The latest American air strike blunder in Afghanistan could mark a major shift in US military operations in south Asia. The bombing, against a home the military believed was housing a Taliban militant, wound up killing 18-civilians, mainly women, children and elderly Afghans.
Western commanders had agreed to no airstrikes without prior Afghan approval yet in the most recent case they went ahead unilaterally.
Now Karzai says there'll be a new policy - no airstrikes on residential targets, period.
This new edict, if it's actually accepted by western forces, gives the Talibs a significant tactical advantage and increases the strain on Afghan security forces. But the greatest repercussion may lie across the border, in Pakistan.
How will the Americans justify already unauthorized drone strikes on residential targets within Pakistan when those same type of targets are "off limits" in Afghanistan itself? Obama is already acting in defiance of Islamabad by waging drone war in Pakistan. Karzai's gambit will presumably ramp up the pressure on Pakistan's civilian and military leadership to stand up to Washington as never before. And, with China and Russia now openly courting Pakistan, this could open an opportunity for them to push American back in that region.