The New York Times on Al Qaeda’s resurgence:

Al Qaeda’s comeback didn’t have to happen. And it must not be allowed to continue. The new Qaeda sanctuaries in Pakistan do not operate with the blessing of the Pakistani government. But Pakistan’s military dictator, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, has not tried very hard to drive them out. In recent months he has virtually conceded the tribal areas to local leaders sympathetic to Al Qaeda. President Bush needs to warn him that continued American backing depends on his doing more to rid his country of people being trained to kill Americans.

Washington also has to enlist more support on the Afghan side of the border. NATO allies need to drop restrictions that hobble their troops’ ability to fight a resurgent Taliban. Afghan leaders need to wage a more aggressive campaign against corruption and drug trafficking. And Washington needs to pour significantly more money into rural development, to give Afghan farmers alternatives to drug cultivation. One reason General Musharraf has been hedging his bets with the Taliban and Al Qaeda is his growing doubt that Washington is determined to succeed in Afghanistan.

What if, as is highly probable, reversing al Qaeda’s comeback requires the U.S. to bomb its training camps in Pakistan? Even if Musharaff were to approve in private, there’s not a snowball’s chance in hell that he would in public.

Does the exclusion of this possibility from the editorial mean the Times would disapprove? Or could the Times simply not risk the opprobrium that would result from its approval of “aggression” against an ungoverned part of a sovereign state?

“It must not be allowed to continue” is an unconditional statement. Ruling out U.S. military action in Pakistan would place a condition on the unconditional.

Politics Al Qaeda’s Resurgence