President Obama gets lots of brickbats for failing to keep campaign promises, but it's one he is keeping that now deserves fresh attention. He is aggressively making good on a 2008 pledge to follow terrorists from Afghanistan into Pakistan and "take them out."
The dramatic increase in drone attacks and hot-pursuit incursions of CIA and special forces into Pakistan aims to eliminate sanctuaries in ungoverned areas. Battlefield reports indicate the operations are highly successful at killing their targets, with few civilian casualties.
Just this week, as many as eight Germans of Pakistani descent were killed in the border area near Afghanistan. At least one was linked to the ongoing plot to attack European cities.
Yet these operations are hardly cost-free. They are expanding the war zone into a third Muslim country, and anti-American protests and violence are rising rapidly in Pakistan. With 170 million people, a nuclear arsenal and a growing insurgency with links to the Afghan Taliban and al Qaeda, Pakistan comprises a highly combustible mix.
The expansion could go wrong in a horrific way, so we must pay closer attention, lest we find America in a full-scale war there or help cause the collapse of its civilian government.
The lack of public interest so far is odd, given how Iraq and Afghanistan dominated American politics for eight years. But whatever the reasons -- presidential silence, war fatigue, economic obsessions, etc. -- Obama's Pakistan strategy is AWOL in this year's campaign.
Our enemies certainly are paying attention. Attacks on our military supply convoys in Pakistan are rising, with photos of exploding fuel tankers routine.
The convoys are sitting ducks since Pakistan closed border crossings to protest our entering its territory without permission. Even more worrisome, some U.S. helicopters have been shot at by the Pakistan army.
Voters can't say we weren't warned. Back in August 2007, Obama said, "Let me make this clear. There are terrorists holed up in those mountains, that murdered 3,000 Americans," and promised to act if Pakistan wouldn't.
In his first debate with John McCain, Obama named Usama bin Laden as a potential target and added, "You have got to deal with Pakistan."
McCain called Obama "naive" and accused him of threatening to "bomb" Pakistan.
In fact, starting in 2002, the Bush administration formed CIA paramilitary forces it called Counterterrorist Pursuit Teams. It used Afghan troops, some trained in the United States, and Obama has greatly expanded their jurisdiction, along with doubling drone attacks in Pakistan.
In his insider book, "Obama's Wars," author Bob Woodward says getting control of Pakistan is "a theme of the whole Obama presidency."
He writes that Vice President Joe Biden warned Pakistan's leader about "playing one side against the other" by cracking down on some terror groups while supporting others.
And three weeks after the Times Square bombing attempt, CIA Director Leon Panetta and National Security Director Jim Jones went to Pakistan to demand a zero-tolerance for terrorists.
Panetta carried a chart showing how the Times Square bomber, Faisal Shahzad, who was sentenced to life in prison yesterday, got training in Pakistan from the same Islamist group that carried out the 2008 attack in Mumbai.
At some point, any president might well have expanded the war as Obama has done. Our generals believe success in Afghanistan is not possible if Pakistan is a sanctuary where the terrorists can plot and recruit.
But the risk of increasing our footprint there is growing here at home. Shahzad, a Pakistani who said he "didn't mean it" when he swore the oath of US citizenship, defiantly told a Manhattan courtroom he would not be the last of his kind to attack America.
"Brace yourself because the war with the Muslims has only just begun," he said.
Michael Goodwin is a New York Post columnist and Fox News contributor. To continue reading his column, click here.
Michael Goodwin is a Fox News contributor and New York Post columnist.