Interviewed by CBS at the recent Aspen Security Forum, former Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair criticized the administration’s reliance on U.S. drone strikes. He called for them to be curtailed in Yemen, Pakistan, and Somalia because they are hurting foreign relations and domestic reform, as well as fuelling anti-American sentiment.
“We’re alienating the countries concerned, because we’re treating countries just as places where we go attack groups that threaten us. We are threatening the prospects for long-term reform raised by the Arab Spring … which would make these countries capable and willing allies who could in fact knock that threat down to a nuisance level”
While acknowledging their tactical success in killing key al-Qaeda operatives, he was more sceptical of their long-term strategic success:
“I just see us with that strategy walking out on a thinner and thinner ledge and if even we get to the far extent of it, we are not going to lower the fundamental threat to the U.S. any lower than we have it now.”
In addition to calling for Pakistani troops to move into the tribal areas, he added the best way to control terrorism was to partner with Pakistan.
“Pakistan with American assistance could bring peace to the valleys and it would benefit both of us. … That is the only way that we are going to get that witches brew of terrorist groups in the northwest part of Pakistan under control.”