Pakistan to U.S.: You bet you’re sorry. Now get out.
The Obama administration’s internal deliberations over whether to apologize to Pakistan will make a fascinating chapter in a future Bob Woodward book.
On one side, we’ll probably hear from the members of the Defense Department camp who say: This is stupid. We had nothing to apologize for. The Pakistanis opened fire on our guys well inside the Afghan border, our aircraft did several low passes to dissuade their attack and they kept it up, so we were well within our rights to defend ourselves.
On the other side, we’ll probably hear from the White House and State Department camp saying: “Who cares? We just wanted Afghanistan to be over.” That is the side that finally won out.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s statement Tuesday reaffirms that more than anything else, President Obama’s central goal for the Afghan war is for it to end — yesterday. The official view seems to be that goal is worth the billions in military assistance; worth the swallowed pride; worth continuing to play patty-cake with an “ally” that harbors terrorists and backs proxies who attack Americans.
Pakistan had Washington’s arm twisted back and wasn’t going to let go until it got an “uncle.” The Pakistanis knew that without the ground supply routes, the Army’s “retrograde” from Afghanistan would have been a complex, costly nightmare. With the supply lines, logisticians can truck 10 years worth of supplies and equipment to ships in Karachi and transport them home. (Still not a walk in the park, but easier than the alternative.)
Pakistan says American war materiel is only allowed to travel south and out of Afghanistan, Clinton said: “Consistent with current practice, no lethal equipment will transit the [Ground Lines Of Communication] into Afghanistan except for equipping the ANSF.” It isn’t clear how or whether Pakistan will enforce this rule — whether it will inspect shipments to satisfy itself that nothing objectionable is getting through — but the message to the U.S. is unambiguous: Get your stuff and get out.
At this point, the U.S. seems only too happy to oblige.