EDITORIAL: ‘War on Terror’ can be a ‘War on Diplomacy’

In elementary school, when we wanted to beat someone up, we made sure to find out what bus he or she rode home on, and we waited for him or her at the bus stop.

Over the weekend, however, the CIA didn’t follow that advice. Last Friday, The Associated Press reported an alleged CIA mission in northern Pakistan missed its target and killed 17 people including innocent women and children.

The United States was acting on intelligence reports that Ayman al-Zawahri, al-Qaida’s No. 2 leader, was in the area. Pakistan intelligence officials had told the CIA al-Zawahri and other extremist officials were invited to a dinner.

The press is still uncovering more information on this story. As more bodies from the bombing are identified, it appears al-Zawahri was not there for the dinner. On a positive note, the AP reported yesterday four or five terrorists did die in the strike.

Regardless of which terrorists did or did not die in the strike, the entire fiasco has damaged a critical relationship between the United States and Pakistan. Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has been a close ally to President Bush in the war on terror by providing critical intelligence information to our government.

Musharraf and his cabinet, despite their strong relations to us, have their priorities with the people of Pakistan.

Pakistan Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz has publicly condemned the attack but stressed his country will work toward improving Pakistan/U.S. relations.

“The relationship with the U.S. is important, it is growing,” Aziz told the AP. “But at the same time, such actions cannot be condoned.”

Many citizens of Pakistan, however, haven’t been as diplomatic. After the Friday’s bombing, widespread protests hit the streets of Pakistan. On the surface, it appeared Pakistani citizens were simply staging another anti-American protest. More importantly, the protesters were speaking out against Pakistan’s ties to the United States. Alongside the every “death to America” chant mentioned on the news over the weekend, there were even more cries for Musharraf’s resignation.

As any U.S. history book will tell you, strong relationships with foreign dictators are always bound to blow up in your face. We agree the United States needs to aggressively bring terrorists to justice, but any mistake such as the ones made over the weekend will disintegrate U.S. ties to other countries even further.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.