Pakistan Update

| Thu Sep. 4, 2008 12:30 PM EDT

PAKISTAN UPDATE....Here's the latest news from the border regions of Pakistan:

Helicopter-borne American Special Operations forces attacked Qaeda militants in a Pakistani village near the border with Afghanistan early Wednesday in the first publicly acknowledged case of United States forces conducting a ground raid on Pakistani soil, American officials said.

....The commando raid by the American forces signaled what top American officials said could be the opening salvo in a much broader campaign by Special Operations forces against the Taliban and Al Qaeda inside Pakistan, a secret plan that Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has been advocating for months within President Bush's war council.

This is, apparently, all that we know. None of the news reports I read gave even a tiny clue about what this raid was about, whether any high-value targets were killed or captured, or what instigated it.

But I wonder what the political fallout is going to be? In one of those weird inversions that you occasionally get in presidential campaigns, Barack Obama is semi-committed to supporting this kind of action and John McCain is semi-committed to opposing it. Both would probably prefer to stay quiet about this particular raid, but what if the Times is right and this is just the "opening salvo in a much broader campaign"? Then they have to say something. But what? McCain strongly criticized Obama earlier in the year when Obama suggested he might follow actionable intelligence over the border ("Pakistan is a sovereign nation," McCain said), but that's not a winning formula in these latter days of base-appeasing jingoism. So I imagine he'll change his mind on this. There's an election to win, after all.

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