Column: Drone strikes seem like quick solutions, but instead increase tension

The death of Taliban leader jeopardizes hopes for peace

Column: Drone strikes seem like quick solutions, but instead increase tension

A U.S. drone attack identified and killed the leader of the Pakistani Taliban, Hakimullah Mehsud, on Nov. 1. Domestically, that was seen as a great success. For President Obama, he was finally able to point to a concrete example of drone strikes successfully doing their job, since arguments against them had been growing since the last large success in May, when Mehsud’s deputy Wali ur-Rehman was killed. For the people of the United States, it was comforting to know that another leader of a large-scale terrorist organization was eliminated, therefore reducing the risk of another attack of 9/11 magnitude.

Elsewhere, however, this attack has not been met with such widespread praise. In terms of reduced risk, Pakistani officials are not relieved, since the Taliban shura, or governing leaders, have been meeting over the weekend to elect a new predecessor to Mehsud. So any risk-relief that comes from Mehsud no longer being able to lead will soon be rescinded, since a new leader will be instated. And the risk may even be greater now, since tensions will run higher.

Even more antagonizing to international politicians, though, is the threat to peace talks that this hit represents. The Pakistani Taliban had recently been opening up to some level of peace negotiations with the surrounding community, but Pakistani officials now fear that those newfound negotiations will be jeopardized. Pakistani Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan claimed that the drone strikes will be the “murder of peace in this region,” according to The New York Times. Furthermore, the Pakistani government has begun to warn American politicians, saying that they must “take [the Pakistani] government seriously. If drone attacks don’t cease there will be a standoff.”

This type of response isn’t secluded to Pakistan, either. Multitudes of politicians and governments from around the world have questioned the United States’ use of drone strikes in this situation. The international response has been less than favorable, and leaves us asking a few questions. Primarily, are the use of drone strikes truly effective on all levels? Clearly, they can take out high-profile targets. No one can argue that they are safer for American troops, since no American lives are directly or inherently at risk. But are the ramifications too large to warrant the benefits? Risking the cooperation of both the Taliban and the Pakistani government in creating new peace negotiations seems to be a much greater detriment than having Mehsud still in power, especially because there will soon be a new leader to follow in his footsteps. Instead, the United States should focus their efforts on helping to facilitate the negotiations that the Taliban is (or at least was) willing to have. This will ensure long-term peace in the region and will reduce Taliban tensions in our posterity. While less aesthetically pleasing to the American people, this option seems like the much more solvent solution to this problem at hand.