Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

I Digress

I'm sure that by now you have heard all about the CIA attack, using Predator drones, that destroyed 3 houses in Pakistan and killed numerous civilians. (The Pakistani government is saying 18, some local reports give much higher numbers.) If you weren't up late Friday night, however, you may not know that the U.S. administration leaked word of this attack, and the hairhatted elocutionists were stumbling all over each other with anticipation that Ayman al-Zawahiri had been killed. It turns out, of course, that he was apparently nowhere in the area.

The disastrous consequences for international relations, and for the pursuit of the al Quaeda conspirators, are obvious. Also obvious is that the Commander in Chief authorized this action. The CIA and hence the top national security leadership knew that the intelligence could be wrong, and even if it was correct it clearly wasn't very specific since they destroyed three different houses. Therefore they knew it was nearly certain that innocent people would be killed and maimed, and entirely possible that only innocent people would be harmed. From the standpoint of the War on Terror™, the action was clearly insane. At best, if Zawahiri were killed, it would still have damaging repercussions for the stability of the Musharraf government, and do little or nothing to reduce the probability of future attacks. But the worst has happened, and the U.S. national interest has been severely harmed.

But that doesn't matter to the administration, because the calculation in this case was purely political. Killing Zawahiri would go a long way toward rescuing their standing with the public, while the U.S. electorate will care little about the murder of Pakistani civilians. It really pains me to say that, but that's how it is.

And now, an administrative statement. I'm going to do the Today in Iraq post tomorrow. In preparation I'm going to do a review for this blog of what we know about the public health situation in Iraq, which will probably go up tomorrow morning. I'm honored to have the opportunity to contribute to the important volunteer effort at Today in Iraq, and I hope that you'll pay us a visit.

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