War of ideas:

Over the weekend, hundreds of Pakistani paramilitary forces moved into the north-western city of Peshawar and its outskirts to drive out Islamist militants who had been kidnapping local notables, taking over courts and jails, and imposing their own brand of Taliban-style justice.

The fact that Pakistan’s Frontier Corps was called on to conduct this operation implies that the coalition government elected in February is losing ground to extremists, and that its efforts to negotiate a truce agreement with Pakistani Taliban groups have failed. The most immediate danger for Americans comes from the sanctuary that Al Qaeda enjoys in the tribal areas of Pakistan.

The next US administration will need to lower its profile in this war. It will have to cooperate more extensively, and quietly, with intelligence services and law enforcement in the Arab world, central Asia, and Europe. Bush’s inflating of the terrorist threat to the scale of a third world war has helped Islamist ideologues propagate the notion that the US is waging a war against Islam. To win a war of ideas with violent Islamists, the next president must counter this dangerous propaganda. That will mean resisting any temptation to conduct military operations in Pakistan that can be depicted as one more occupation of a Muslim country. — The Boston Globe