[…] The assault this morning is part of a wave of violence perpetrated by brutal extremists who seek to undermine Pakistan’s democracy and sow fear and discord. The Pakistani people have suffered grievous losses, but they are standing firm in the face of this intimidation — and the United States stands with them. … – Sect. Clinton

As we get closer to August and our commitment to pull back forces in Iraq, our involvement in the region of Afghanistan – Pakistan will come into view. In the last election cycle we saw the rise of Ron Paul and his non-interventionist stance, something neocons abhor, with preemption coupled with tax cuts having ruined Republicanism. As Tea Party members raise the roof on spending in 2010, it makes you wonder if they will join the non-interventionist political streak that began rising through Ron Paul’s candidacy, taking it forward to 2012. It’s not where Republicans want to go, but what have they got left? Meanwhile, the Democrats are deeply sunk into Afghanistan – Pakistan, with the region roiling right now.

The U.S. consulate in Peshawar was attacked today. So, it must be April, for the god of war is on a rampage. Via Bloomberg News:

Taliban guerrillas attacked the U.S. consulate in Peshawar with bombs and gunfire in the heaviest assault on an American diplomatic mission in Pakistan since 1979.

Militants exploded nearly simultaneous bombs at paramilitary police posts guarding roads to the complex, and detonated a larger bomb that damaged the consulate and killed two of its Pakistani security guards. No U.S. casualties were reported.

Guerrillas battled police in “a very coordinated, commando-style attack that involved many people,” said Imtiaz Gul, executive director of Center for Research and Security Studies in Islamabad, the capital. After 14 months of escalated U.S. and Pakistani attacks that have forced the country’s Taliban out of several of their strongholds, violence today “showed that it will take many years to undermine the guerrillas’ capacities,” Gul said by phone. […]

Graphic via the New York Times.

The graphic above from the New York Times focuses on U.S. drones hitting Pakistan, which the article goes on to delineate in harrowing specifics.

The strikes have become so ferocious, “It seems they really want to kill everyone, not just the leaders,” said the militant, who is a mid-ranking fighter associated with the insurgent network headed by Jalaluddin and Sirajuddin Haqqani. By “everyone” he meant rank-and-file fighters, though civilians are being killed, too. …

[…] “Definitely Haqqani is under a lot of pressure,” the militant said. “He has lost commanders, a brother and other family members.”

While unpopular among the Pakistani public, the drone strikes have become a weapon of choice for the Obama administration after the Pakistani Army rebuffed pleas to mount a ground offensive in North Waziristan to take on the militants who use the area to strike at American and NATO forces in Afghanistan. …

Two of the government supporters said they knew of civilians, including friends, who had been killed by being in the wrong place at the wrong time. But, they said, they are prepared to sacrifice the civilians if it means North Waziristan will be rid of the militants, in particular the Arabs.

“On balance, the drones may have killed 100, 200, 500 civilians,” said one of the men. “If you look at the other guys, the Arabs and the kidnappings and the targeted killings, I would go for the drones.”

The part in bold above is tucked into this article, bit is a striking bit of truth. The substance of which reminds me of what SecDef Gates said last year about our presence inside Pakistan. From an interview Gates did with Fareed Zakaria back in May, 2009, which I covered:

GATES: They don’t like the idea of a significant American military footprint inside Pakistan. I understand that. But we are willing to do pretty much whatever we can to help the Pakistanis in this situation. I think that we have been willing to do that for quite some time.

Zakaria: Will there be American military advisers in Pakistan now training the Pakistani military in counterinsurgency?

SEC. GATES: Well, I think that remains to be seen. There are some very small number now. But I think it will depend on how the situation develops and the views of the Pakistani government. I would just say we are prepared to provide whatever help in developing this counterinsurgency capability to the Pakistanis that we possibly can. But it’s their country, and they’re sovereign, and we’ll let them dictate the rules.

We’ll likely be digging down into this region for some time to come, regardless of Obama’s pledge to remove resources in Afghanistan in the summer of 2011. Pakistan is quite a different beast than Afghanistan, not the least of it being it’s a nuclear state.

No doubt Bush-Cheney broke Iraq, so we had to stay to fix it; but that goes the same for Afghanistan, which actually goes back to Bill Casey and the Reagan era (though Carter and Zbig authorized the first cash).

Interestingly, if the Tea Party’s so called populist conservatism is taken beyond domestic issue to include thinking about national security, you have to wonder if they’ll stay true to fiscal conservatism, or turn tail and run back to Bush Republicanism and support the industrial military complex of Cheneyism.

As we look forward to 2012, if there is a credible challenge to the two parties who traditionally duke it out, no matter how unlikely it is that an outsider candidacy could win, it would be a positive development if there was a continuing discussion about how we get enmeshed in countries so deeply, spending billions of dollars we have to borrow. It’s quite possible that Afghanistan is the last we’ll see of this type of U.S. interventionism with so many troops at play. A smarter, smaller and more surgical attitude is likely on the horizon.

Then the question becomes what leader can make the Pentagon culture adapt, and if people rising up will force the change, or if it will be our teetering financial deficit that will finally bring it to a halt.