Tag: station chief

The Pakistan Problem

Obama made absolutely the right call when he did not tell the Pakistani government that we were going after bin Laden. While I think the Pakistani government tries to be sympathetic to us, I also think they are both compromised by Wahabbists within and desperate not to inflame a radical Islamist revolution in their own country.

Whether we should break off things with them is even more iffy. Having their government on our side makes it easier to chase down AQ operatives in their country and try to keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of Jihadists. Pakistan is also being courted by China as a strategic ally, a potentially dangerous power shift.

But the Pakistani’s are not making it easy for us. Beside hiding bin Laden in their country, they’ve threatened to give the wreckage of the stealth helicopter to the Chinese. And yesterday, they outed our CIA station chief:

The public outing of the CIA station chief here threatened on Monday to deepen the rift between the United States and Pakistan, with U.S. officials saying they believed the disclosure had been made deliberately by Pakistan’s main spy agency.

If true, the leak would be a sign that Pakistan’s powerful security establishment, far from feeling chastened by the killing of terrorist leader Osama bin Laden in a Pakistani garrison city last week, is seeking to demonstrate its leverage over Washington and retaliate for the unilateral U.S. operation.

Less than six months ago, the identity of the previous CIA station chief in Islamabad was also disclosed in an act that U.S. officials blamed on their counterparts in Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency, or ISI.

The new station chief, who runs one of the largest U.S. intelligence-gathering operations in the world, played an instrumental role in overseeing efforts to confirm bin Laden’s location before last week’s raid.

This is, to some extent, a temper tantrum by Pakistan. The Soviet Union and the US used to do this to each other in retaliation during the Cold War. But there’s a very real danger here of Pakistan sliding toward China and away from us. (On the other hand, the Chinese would probably find an alliance with Pakistan even more of a mixed blessing than we do).

The future of our relationship with Pakistan is going to be a real test of both Obama and Hillary Clinton. I don’t know if we can keep Pakistan on our side and I don’t know that we should. But without them, things get a lot more difficult. Patching up our relationship as best we can — at least in the short term — may be the least of several evils.

Long term, India is far more important to us and far less insane. We might be better off concentrating our efforts there.