For seven years the Bush administration has pursued a policy in Afghanistan of killing “militants” on the assumption if you kill enough of them the others will disappear. A few days ago, another US missile strike killed British militant who was linked to a jetliner bombing plot. Every time a US missile strike in Pakistan kills a militant, there are protests by Pakistanis against American military action on their soil. The Pakistan government insists these constant missile strikes may kill some militants but they also undermine the authority of the nation’s government and play into the hands of militants who wish to overthrow the democratically elected leaders and install a fundamentalist Islamic government.
There is not question some militants are being killed, but will that result in a change within al-Qaeda or the Taliban. A strategy based on killing leaders is doomed to failure because it is in the nature of a domestic movement for other leaders to emerge. Killing militants without a program of financial support to create a modern Pakistan education system or to stimulate jobs and economic growth will only result in dead militants and a dead society that is ripe to be overthrown by followers of the dead militants.