"These are the days of concrete and steel.
Everything is possible but nothing is real."
-- Corey Glover
One of the implications of the jabs at McCain that Obama lobbed in his 'caves' soundbite a week ago was that he would be willing to cross from Afghanistan into Pakistan. As I mentioned last Friday on NPR, this happens over Musharraf's dead body. Musharraf is now about as lame as GWBush. Actually lamer because his life may be in jeopardy - you know how it gets in Pakistan. News is trickling through that Bush is letting loose some dogs in cross-border skirmishes right now. So I would guess that there is some consensus in Washington that it's open season, or at least the beginning of open season in Pakistan.
I would keep an eye out for improvement in the American - Indian relationship, especially on military cooperation. Musharraf has been undermined by double crossers in the Pakistani intelligence service, the ISI. And they most certainly have tossed a fair bit of disinformation our way. Though I haven't revisited in detail the ways to look at the three legs of the Pakistani political stalemate, it's clear that as uncle Pervez steps down, the central government is getting weaker. Whether that means jihadis in country are getting stronger is anybody's guess, but surely America at this interesting opportunity doesn't appear to be beholden to any Pakistani leader in particular. Now is a good time for some covert and special ops.
BTW. France's Sarkozy is making moves towards the puny and weak Syria.
I read all this as a kind of shoulder shrug of the great powers. Clearly our Democrats have no respect for the ideas of strong allied nations and overt forces of liberation against presidentially identified evildoers. And Bush hasn't been able to convince anyone for several years, even though it's working in Iraq. This augers for a lot more military advisors, Contra forces, deniable special forces ops and the like - which is just what I think is happening in northern Pakistan as we speak.
If McCain gets elected, he is likely to continue with the shift of troops from Iraq to Afghanistan, especially if Petraeus makes the case for a reasonable drawdown. The political prize of nabbing bin Laden, no matter how anti-Westphalian the means, has got to be too big a temptation to resist for the price of Vietnam & Nicaragua-style deniable ops. I cannot imagine that Obama would resist it given his calculations of individual solidier's lives over strategic military objectives. Who can doubt McCain wouldn't also slide a few of those troops over the nebulous border regions?
If the bad war is Iraq and Iran and the good war is in Afghanistan, and the deniable war is on Pakistani soil, is there no one to stop McCain or Obama? Yes, there is no one. After all, to whom in Pakistan is America accountable?