Droning On

The United States has been going after insurgents in Pakistan with increased urgency and frequency, newspapers are reporting this morning. In fact, the New York Times reports, in September the CIA has already broken the record for most drone strikes in one month (twenty). According to the Times, the bump in UAV attacks signals American and Afghan "frustration" with the Pakistanis over their refusal to launch more counteroffensives to dislodge militants from North Waziristan and areas along its northwestern border.

And that's not all. Times defense correspondents Mark Mazzetti and Eric Schmitt report that the U.S. military has also launched recent helicopter raids into Pakistani territory, aided by improvements in intelligence technology, and Special Ops forces are planning for cross-border incursions in case President Obama wants to go that route.

The Wall Street Journal says the record-number of drone operations has a more specific target. The strikes reportedly were intended to disrupt a major terrorist plot against Europe, involving at least Britain, France and Germany. But regardless of what's behind them, the Washington Post notes that the Pakistanis are none too pleased with all the new activity.

In his analysis of the Times story, NPR's Pentagon correspondent, J.J. Sutherland, thinks, "The piece reads like a classic sourced story," meaning all the evidence was harvested "on background." In the meantime, all the news is making Neptunus Lex happy. But Robert Dreyfuss of The Nation says he can't "see any coherence in all of this," meaning the increased bombing raids and other U.S. activity combined with Gen. Petraeus's announcement that Taliban fighters have started signaling that they'd like to negotiate. And David Rothkopf worries that America's ability to project power by using technology (robots, cyberops, etc.) is a "harbinger" that major powers will no longer be forced to "resolve diputes" based on "rational calculus," but may feel empowered to go on the offensive more often with little cost. Rick Rozoff is also disturbed by the drone spike and laments the effects the uptick in attacks is having on the Pakistani population, which he says will likely cause widespread post-traumatic stress disorder.