The belated dispatch of Osama testifies to what the United States does well – elite warriors, superbly trained, equipped to a level of technological sophistication no other nation can match. Everything else surrounding the event (including White House news management so club-footed that one starts to wonder darkly whether its incompetence is somehow intentional) embodies what the United States does badly. Pakistan, our "ally," hides and protects not only Osama but also Mullah Omar and Zawahiri, and does so secure in the knowledge that it will pay no price for its treachery – indeed, confident that its duplicitous military will continue to be funded by U.S. taxpayers.
Yeah, folks, despite the fact that we have found Pakistani intel operatives with Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan (see Tony Shaffer's book Operation Black Heart) and have known they have been stonewalling us, we still pay for much of their military. Here is some instructional points:
But the big picture is bigger than Hollywood convention. In the great sweeping narrative, the death of Osama bin Laden is barely a ripple, while the courtesies afforded to him by the Pakistani establishment tell us something profound about the superpower's weakness and inability to shift the storyline. Bin Laden famously said that when people see a strong horse and a weak horse they naturally prefer the strong horse. Putting a bullet through his eye is a good way of letting him know which role he's consigned to. But the strong horse/weak horse routine is a matter of perception as much as anything else. On Sept. 12, 2001, Gen. Musharraf was in a meeting "when my military secretary told me that the U.S. secretary of state, Gen. Colin Powell, was on the phone. I said I would call back later." The milquetoasts of the State Department were in no mood for Musharraf's I'm-washing-my-hair routine, and, when he'd been dragged to the phone, he was informed that the Bush administration would bomb Pakistan "back to the Stone Age" if they didn't get everything they wanted. Musharraf concluded that America meant it.
A decade later, we're back to Sept. 10. Were Washington to call Islamabad as it did a decade ago, the Pakistanis would thank them politely and say they'd think it over and get back in six weeks, give or take. They think they've got the superpower all figured out – that America is happy to spend bazillions of dollars on technologically advanced systems that can reach across the planet but it doesn't really have the stomach for changing the facts of the ground. That means that once in a while your big-time jihadist will be having a quiet night in watching "Dancing With The Stars" when all of a sudden Robocop descends from the heavens, kicks the door open, and it's time to get ready for your virgins. But other than that, in the bigger picture, day by day, all but unnoticed, things will go their way.
In the fall of 2001, discussing the collapse of the Taliban, Thomas Friedman, the in-house thinker at The New York Times, offered this bit of cartoon analysis:
"For all the talk about the vaunted Afghan fighters, this was a war between the Jetsons and the Flintstones – and the Jetsons won and the Flintstones know it."
But they didn't, did they? The Flintstones retreated to their caves, bided their time, and a decade later the Jetsons are desperate to negotiate their way out.
When it comes to instructive analogies, I prefer Khartoum to cartoons. If it took America a decade to avenge the dead of 9/11, it took Britain 13 years to avenge their defeat in Sudan in 1884. But, after Kitchener slaughtered the jihadists of the day at the Battle of Omdurman in 1897, he made a point of digging up their leader the Mahdi, chopping off his head and keeping it as a souvenir. The Sudanese got the message. The British had nary a peep out of the joint until they gave it independence six decades later – and, indeed, the locals fought for King and (distant imperial) country as brave British troops during World War Two. Even more amazingly, generations of English schoolchildren were taught about the Mahdi's skull winding up as Lord Kitchener's novelty paperweight as an inspiring tale of national greatness.
That last bit would have been instructive on the disposition of Osammy's remains. Would have made a nice lawn jockey. I'm just sayin. Oh, and then there is this gem from our "ally" Pakistan--
Pakistan Outs CIA Boss
Does this sound like an enemy or an ally?
Amid bitter, recriminatory exchanges between the United States and Pakistan over the Osama bin Laden extermination, planned bilateral visits of President Asif Ali Zardari to Washington DC and a return trip of President Barack Obama to Islamabad are both in jeopardy. Ties between the two sides are expected to slide further following Pakistan's "outing" of the CIA station chief in Islamabad on Saturday.
In a sign of how bad ties are between the two countries, Pakistani media on Saturday once again publicly named the CIA station chief in Islamabad, a breach of both protocol and trust, that is bound to enrage Washington.
A Pakistani TV channel and a newspaper considered mouthpieces of the country's military said the ISI chief Ahmed Shuja Pasha had met CIA station chief Mark Carlton to protest US incursion into Abbottabad to kill al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden. CIA station chiefs remain anonymous and unnamed in public although the host government is told.
Earlier, the Obama administration had asked Pakistan to disclose names of its top intelligence operatives to determine whether they had contact with Osama or his agents.
The latest breach indicates that a section of the Pakistani military-intelligence establishment is determined to run the CIA out of the country fearing that the ISI's links with terror groups and its sheltering of terrorist leaders will be exposed.
Sadly, this does not start with Obama. Bureaucrats at both State and Defense were apprised of Pakistan working with the Taliban and al Queda as early in the two war fronts as 2003. Tony Shaffer talks about capturing an ISI (Pakistan Intelligence Service) Operative in an al queda/taliban raid. (see Operation Black Heart, his excellent book on the subject.) Once again, bureaucrats are more concerned with protecting their assets than in assessing and naming threats, and we are stuck in bed with this clown.