Helicopters carried U.S. and Afghan commandos many miles into Pakistan on Wednesday to stage the first U.S. ground attack against a Taliban target inside the country, Pakistani officials said. At least 20 local people died in the raid, according to the officials.Pakistan filed a formal protest with the U.S. government, which had no comment on what appeared to be a new escalation of U.S. pressure on Taliban and al-Qaeda sanctuaries in Pakistan's mountainous border regions.
Now, in terms of operational details, we obviously don't know much, but it seems as if we're talking about a ground attack on Pakistani soil by U.S. forces. That's a fairly significant development.
But in the context of the presidential campaign, it also touches on one of the more unexpected debates of the year. Barack Obama has said, on multiple occasions, that he supports taking actions against terrorists who flee across the border into Pakistan, if Pakistani officials are unable or unwilling to act. Obama's position is consistent with U.S. policy, which Bush has acted on.
John McCain not only disagrees, he's repeatedly criticized Obama's policy, accusing him of wanting to "bomb our ally." Indeed, McCain recently suggested to CNN's Larry King that he, as president, wouldn't even pursue Osama bin Laden if he slipped past the border because "Pakistan is a sovereign nation."
With that in mind, what, pray tell, does the McCain campaign think of yesterday's strike against the Taliban? If he's consistent -- I know, that's too much to ask -- McCain is presumably offended by this violation of Pakistani sovereignty.
I wonder, though, if the McCain campaign would be willing to say so.