The except of the Palin interview on this morning’s Good Morning America included things that were not on last night, nor were they in the transcript that I shared in a recent post. Charlie Gibson was asking Sarah Palin if she thought Americans have the right to “go across the border with or without the approval of the Pakistani government, to go after terrorists who are in the Waziristan area?” On what I saw this morning, she said that we need to build a relationship with Pakistan’s government so that it knows it’s in our mutual interest to defeat Al-Qaeda.
And that should be our goal. I myself wonder why we wouldn’t get Pakistan’s permission to enter its territory and defeat Bin Laden. Some of it may be because the Pakistani government’s relationship with Al-Qaeda is complex. It’s been vigorous in cracking down on Al-Qaeda in the past, but I’ve also heard criticism that it doesn’t do enough.
James Carville said there may arise a situation in which there’s not enough time to inform Pakistan. Suppose we know where Bin Laden is, and we only have a brief window of time to get him. Can we contact Pakistan in time to get its permission? Surprisingly, Carville was sympathetic to Palin on this point, while the interviewer was trying to say that going into Pakistan without its permission was an act of war. Even Obama has talked about taking out Al-Qaeda in Pakistan!
I also wonder how we would take Al-Qaeda out there. Would we drop bombs? I remember Hillary saying that we’d need to inform Pakistan if we did that, otherwise it could assume the bombs are from India, and that would spark a major war. That’s supposedly a reason Bill Clinton didn’t go after Osama Bin Laden at one point in his administration. At the same time, Pakistan seems to know the general location where Al-Qaeda is–the Waziristan area. If it saw bombs dropping there, it may conclude they’re from us. Why would India want to single out Al-Qaeda? We’re the ones who were attacked on September 11! But ground forces may be the safe way to go.
I was also thinking about the ramifications of bombing in general, especially as I was reading Jeremiah Wright’s “Chickens coming home to roost” sermon. Our bombing raids have killed innocent civilians–good, hardworking people with wives, kids, and extended family. I think our intentions were good. We thought that dropping the atomic bomb on Japan was the only way to win World War II. We bombed Qaddafi because he was perpetuating terror around the world. And analysts have pointed out that he pretty much straightened up his act after we bombed Libya. But the bombings also had bad consequences for innocent people, and blithely dismissing them with “war is hell” doesn’t comfort those who lost a loved one. These are tough choices–ones I would never want to make.
This whole situation makes me long for the day that Isaiah 2:4 envisions: “He shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more” (NRSV).