PAKISTAN….Responding to the recent news that a resurgent al-Qaeda has “stepped up training and worldwide operations from safe havens in Pakistan,” a congressional staffer tells Laura Rozen, “It strikes me that we are in an eerily similar situation to 1999 and 2000.” We know that al-Qaeda is openly operating training camps, we’re getting distinct signs of increasing activity, and there’s an internal debate about what to do about this. The staffer continues:

In 1999 and 2000, we were talking about Afghanistan. Today, it is Pakistan. The Clinton Administration was savaged after 9/11 for “treating terrorism as law enforcement”, excessively taking into account the diplomatic sensitivities of other nations, and too much regard for civilian lives when we could have killed the bad guys with a missile strike. The Bushies said that would not happen on their watch.

So why is it happening again? At least the Clintonites did not have “the lessons of 9/11” as a backdrop.

The reason it’s happening again is that the only military solution available is to invade Pakistan. It would be nice to think that a missile strike here and an occasional special ops mission there will fix things right up, but does anyone really believe that? I doubt it. Conversely, does anyone really think that invading Pakistan would be a good idea? I doubt that too. Surely Iraq has taught us something?

As usual, our military options are very tightly constrained by reality. They always have been. Best to keep that top of mind and instead apply our brainpower to other possibilities.