We, the undersigned, urge President Obama to keep his June 20, 2009 promise that “we have no intention of sending United States troops into Pakistan.”
We oppose the looming threat of US cross-border raids into Pakistan, as well as the continued escalation of drone strikes. Peace cannot be won by lopsided Western military intervention, but only by negotiated compromise and regional diplomacy. As Pakistani journalist Zahid Hussain concludes, “a political settlement is the only endgame.”
As the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan gradually wind down, now is the time to de-escalate the US war in Pakistan and adopt a diplomatic exit strategy.
Instead, the US is on the verge of sending ground troops into Pakistan as well as escalating its aerial drone attacks.
We call for bipartisan Congressional hearings to recommend a Pakistan peace strategy to the administration.
The September 22 testimony of Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, may well “pave the way… to new unilateral military actions inside Pakistan,” including more drone strikes and, “even cross border raids into Pakistan to root out insurgents from their havens.” (New York Times, September 22-23, 2011)
After Mullen’s testimony, the Heritage Foundation immediately called for aggressive military and diplomatic escalation. (Christian Science Monitor, September 26, 2011) House Republicans are pushing an open-ended authorization for war against any insurgents anywhere in the world “associated” with the Taliban or Al Qaeda.
Enough is enough. Escalation in Pakistan is not in the national security interest of the United States. Already our drone attacks have provoked two terrorist near misses against American civilians, one at the Detroit airport on Christmas Day 2009 and another at Times Square on May 1, 2010. It is not in the economic interest of the United States; we cannot afford another trillion-dollar war. It is not in the moral interest of the United States; the drone attacks kill innocent people and inflame millions of Pakistanis against America.
The military pursuit of terrorist sanctuaries, first in Iraq and then in Afghanistan, has left behind thousands dead and wounded and only pushed the sanctuaries to new locations. Each escalation begets another. Besides Pakistan, our government is pursuing undeclared air wars against terrorist cells with drone attacks in Somalia and Yemen. (Washington Post, September 20, 2011)
It makes no sense to escalate attacks against the Pakistan sanctuaries of the Afghan Taliban while the US ends its combat role, gradually withdraws from Afghanistan, and supports a power-sharing arrangement with all parties. It is irrational to bomb the Taliban’s sanctuaries while inviting them to the peace table. A genuine diplomatic settlement requires a phased ending of the drone attacks as US troops phase out their role in Afghanistan.
Sending in ground troops backed by air power is as foolish as President Nixon’s 1970 invasion of Cambodia allegedly to wipe out Vietcong sanctuaries.
For more on the war in Pakistan, see "An Expanding War in Pakistan."