The tense relationship between the USA and its “ally,” Pakistan just took a major turn for the worse. During a firefight along the ill-defined Pakistani-Afghan border, a US air strike apparently killed three paramilitary Pakistani soldiers. Pakistan, long-angered by American strikes against Taliban targets on Pakistani territory, retaliated by closing a critical US/NATO supply line that hauls heavy cargoes through Pakistan to American/NATO troops in Afghanistan. This is not a minor response. Pakistan is essentially telling the USA to either change its tactics and submit to Pakistani demands or the days of Pakistani cooperation in this war are numbered. Indicative of Pakistan’s anger is the statement by its Interior Minister re: the USA that “we will have to wait and see whether we have allies or enemies.”
The USA and NATO could also be making that same statement re: Pakistan. As the first link below notes, the USA is angry that Pakistan does little to stop the free flow of Taliban militants back and forth across the border region. It does seem sometimes that a portion of the Pakistani government supports the American effort and another part supports the Taliban. Pakistani alliances with Afghan tribesmen goes back a long time. The American CIA used these connections to smuggle stinger anti-aircraft missiles and other weapons to the Afghan tribesmen fighting the Russians during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Now many Afghan tribesmen see the Americans as the new invaders, and seek weapons and support against them from their old friends in the Pakistani intelligence and military branches.
In a classic understatement, the link below observes: “A permanent stoppage of supply trucks would place massive strains on NATO and hurt the Afghan war effort.” Indeed, it would end the war effort. There is no way that enough heavy fuel and supplies could be flown in to Afghanistan to continue sustained American/NATO war operations. The link cites polls showing “many Pakistanis regard the United States as an enemy.” The link also reports that Pakistan has threatened to stop protecting NATO supply columns as they pass through Pakistan.
The Pakistani-American “alliance” seems headed for an eventual, open breach. When this happens, we may see a new photograph of the “last helicopter out of Kabul,” reminiscent of the “last helicopter out of Saigon” photo that became a famous one in photo journalism.
When he came into office, President Obama enlarged the war in Afghanistan even as it was winding down in Iraq. This decision revealed a major lack of military knowledge by Obama and his war-planners. While Bush’s Iraq war had a solid, secure and friendly local base of operations, secure supply lines and a ready avenue of retreat, the Afghan War has none of these advantages. Afghanistan seems to be a war being fought without a strategy, a strategic goal, reliable local allies or any concept of what “victory” would look like. It is rapidly becoming “Obama’s Vietnam” in my view, and Obama seems to be reprising the role of President Johnson in fighting a major “land war in Asia” for no discernible strategic purpose. All the Afghans know that the time is coming when the Americans will be gone, so they are tilting toward the Taliban in order to ensure their own future survival.
The Pakistani-American relationship can be typified by a biblical precedent. In Hosea 8:9, the prophet Hosea noted that the allies of Ephraim (the ancient kingdom of Israel) were “hired lovers” (or allies) who had no real loyalty to Ephraim. Pakistan is a “hired lover/ally” of modern America. It is an “ally” because it receives large payments of money from America in various foreign and military aid efforts. When/if the USA has a budget crisis due to its prolonged profligacy, foreign aid payments will be on the chopping block and a new Congress could cut them off as part of a needed austerity program. When American money is cut off to Pakistan, you will see where Pakistan’s loyalties truly lie. Ezekiel 38:5 already gives us the answer. Where the King James Version includes the word “Ethiopia” as an ally of the Gog-Magog alliance headed by Russia, China and Iran, the correct word should be “Cush.” The name of “Cush” is still stamped on the nations of Afghanistan and Pakistan as the Hindu “Kush” mountains straddle both nations. This region of the world is increasingly anti-American, and a complete breach appears inevitable.
This relationship may stumble on for awhile as it is totally in the long-term interests of Russia and China to help America waste its blood, money and resources in a war of no strategic value to the USA. I think Moscow and Beijing would both mourn if the Afghan War ended because it is bleeding America so massively, a fact most desirable to Moscow’s and Beijing’s long-term war-plans. What would really isolate (and end) the American Afghan War is if Pakistan asked its long-time ally, China, to send Chinese armed divisions to the Afghan-Pakistani border to “safeguard” it. China could also become Pakistan’s new source of foreign aid, as China has real money to give to Pakistan if it wants to do so. America has to have the Federal Reserve Board create more “funny money” dollars out of thin air to pay for the funds going to Pakistan (and all the other “hired lovers” America sends money to around the world).
I see little likelihood of a good outcome for the USA in either Pakistan or Afghanistan. Obama faces a no-win situation. He can continue to waste American resources (and much of his own political support) by prolonging the unpopular Afghan War, or he can cut America’s losses and bring the troops home and let Afghanistan revert to the control of the Taliban and its tribal warlords. The latter action would greatly embarrass Obama and make him look weak in the eyes of the world. So…either way, Obama loses. In expanding the Afghan War, Obama has gullibly allowed himself to be maneuvered into the exact no-win position that Russia and China created for him. In the “great game” of geopolitical chess, Russia and China have been moving their pieces very well through proxies and misdirections. Obama appears to not even realize he is in the “great game,” so he is moving his pieces rather badly. He is also damaging himself politically the longer this war continues. Polls show Americans do not support the Afghan War (see second link below), so the longer Obama fights it, the more Obama will lose his own political base. This may also mean that Obama will be in exactly the weakened state where Hillary Clinton wants him to be when she challenges him for the Democratic nomination for President in 2012.