If anyone wondered why the death of Baitullah Mehsud would make our job easier in Afghanistan, the Taliban may have provided an example. When leaders of violent movements suddenly die without succession plans, the people below them usually rely on the methods they know best to determine who gets to be the next supreme leader. So far, this report is unconfirmed … but it’s still instructive:

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This is why the US has stepped up its campaign to target Taliban leadership with drone-based attacks — a decision for which Barack Obama should get credit, as it goes against his stated positions during the presidential campaign. The increasing success of these attacks sows paranoia and distrust among the terrorists as they have to start wondering how we’re getting our intel, and the sudden removal of leadership creates a vacuum in which factions form and fight amongst themselves. Rarely is that so explicit and specific as reported by NBC here, but schisms and splits serve our interests even when it doesn’t result in duels fatal to both leaders.

Will this story get substantiated? Let’s hope so.

Tags: Barack Obama