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Bombers Without Borders

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Reposted from Foreign Policy In Focus

The United States, so obsessed with policing its own borders, shows precious little concern for those of other countries. When it comes to waging war, the Pentagon is like a little kid with crayons and a coloring book. It has great difficult staying within the lines.

Last week, for instance, Special Ops carried out a helicopter attack on a small Syrian village six miles from the Iraqi border. U.S. forces went after Abu Ghadiya, a leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq. It's still not clear whether he was killed, though several Syrian civilians certainly were.

"Numerous questions abound about the timing, purpose, and legality of the strike," writes Foreign Policy In Focus (FPIF) contributor Farrah Hassen in Strange Strike. "Was the attack directed specifically against Syria, which has cooperated with the United States in the War on Terror and the Iraq War, or is it more of a desperate pre-election move by the Bush administration to showcase the image of stability and U.S. resolve? Other pundits have called the attack a 'parting shot' from President George W. Bush and neoconservatives in his administration, who have long advocated but failed to bring regime change to Damascus, particularly in response to Syria's early opposition to the invasion of Iraq."

It wasn't the first time that the Pentagon crossed the line with Syria. In 2003, Special Ops botched a cross-border operation that left 80 people dead. Syria barely protested the violation of its sovereignty. This time, although Damascus has officially registered its complaints, the media has been buzzing with rumors that Syria approved of the raid in order to curry favor with the United States and get rid of an insurgent it didn't particularly like.

While the Iraq War has spilled over into Syria, the war in Afghanistan has long involved border areas in Pakistan. For a while, "our man in Islamabad," Pakistani strongman Pervez Musharraf, allowed us to treat his country's borders like Swiss cheese. After at least 15 U.S. cross-border missile strikes and one commando raid just since August, the new Pakistani government is drawing the line. Or, rather, Islamabad is pointing out that the line was drawn many years ago, and the United States should start respecting it.

October is now past, and the U.S. presidential election is upon us. There have been no surprises. The Bush administration didn't begin a new war against Iran or launch a preemptive strike to wipe out North Korea's nuclear program. Instead, Washington merely continued with business as usual: fighting two failed wars and spreading the collateral damage as widely as possible. Over the last seven years, the Pentagon has bombed indiscriminately. Finally, though, one of those bombs seems to have found a just target. On Election Day 2008, it looks as though someone called in the wrong coordinates and the Party of War is going up in flames. Who would have thought that collateral damage could taste so sweet?

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