In the wake of the bin Laden operation, we have seen several points come to the forefront. We have seen Obama and his operatives take credit for the operation which was based on intelligence streams and intelligence gathering methods begun under the Bush administration. These techniques and streams were condemned by candidate Obama, and that condemnation found favor amongst his supporters. Now that he used the same intelligence sources and techniques, no one is casting an eye back because of the results. I won’t condemn Obama for using the same intelligence gathering sources that were advocated by President Bush and conservatives. I will condemn him for not having the guts to come out and say “Bush was right.”
We have seen the predictable “blow back” and fear of reprisals for the Obama’s death at the hands of the United States.
But now there is another storm on the horizon: US and Pakistan relations.
During his remarks on Sunday night, President Obama praised Pakistan for their help and cooperation leading to the demise of bin Laden saying:
So his demise should be welcomed by all who believe in peace and human dignity. Over the years I have repeatedly made clear that we would take action within Pakistan if we knew where bin Laden was. That is what we’ve done. But its important to note our counterterrorism cooperation with Pakistan helped lead us to bin Laden.
And the compound where he was hiding. Indeed Bin Laden has declared war on Pakistan as well and ordered attacks against the Pakistani people. Tonight, I called President Zadari and my team has also spoken with their Pakistani counter parts. They agreed that this is a good and historic day for both of our nations. and going forward, it is essential that Pakistan continues to join us in the fight against Al-Qaeda and its affiliates.
Along the same warm and fuzzy pronouncement, Pakistan president Asif Ali Zardari wrote in today’s Washington Post:
Although the events of Sunday were not a joint operation, a decade of cooperation and partnership between the United States and Pakistan led up to the elimination of Osama bin Laden as a continuing threat to the civilized world. And we in Pakistan take some satisfaction that our early assistance in identifying an al-Qaeda courier ultimately led to this day.
Let us be frank. Pakistan has paid an enormous price for its stand against terrorism. More of our soldiers have died than all of NATO’s casualties combined.
Further into the piece, President Zardari says:
Only hours after bin Laden’s death, the Taliban reacted by blaming the government of Pakistan and calling for retribution against its leaders, and specifically against me as the nation’s president. We will not be intimidated. Pakistan has never been and never will be the hotbed of fanaticism that is often described by the media. (emphasis mine)
Somehow the optimism and “kumbayah” moment has dissipated, if it ever existed at all as evidenced here:
ABBOTTABAD, Pakistan—Pakistan said Tuesday it had “concerns and reservations” about Washington’s decision to attack and kill al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden deep inside Pakistan without seeking their permission or giving forewarning.
“This event of unauthorized unilateral action cannot be taken as a rule,” Pakistan’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
The 1,000-word statement marked a change in tone from a shorter missive put out Monday after a helicopter-borne U.S. military team under the direction of the CIA raided a house in the midsized town of Abbottabad where bin Laden had been living and killed him.
On Monday, the Foreign Ministry said the operation was conducted by the U.S. and noted that Pakistan had been cooperative in intelligence-gathering in the past. But by Tuesday, faced with growing criticism at home that the raid violated national space, the ministry took a tougher stance.
The U.S. action, it said in the English-language version of the statement, “shall not serve as a future precedent for any state, including the U.S.”
The statement appeared an attempt to quiet mounting discontent among middle-class Pakistanis, many of whom are virulently anti-American, for what they see as a loss of face. Owais Khan, a lawyer in Abbottabad, said the bar association of the town had written a letter of protest to Army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and President Asif Ali Zardari to protest the U.S.’s unilateral action. “The act they have done is against the sovereignty of Pakistan,” he said in an interview. (emphasis mine)
So much for not bowing to pressure.
But the distrust is not strictly one sided. Quoting Time Magazine:
In his first interview since commanding the mission to kill Osama bin Laden, CIA chief Leon Panetta tells TIME that U.S. officials feared that Pakistan could have undermined the operation by leaking word to its targets. Long before Panetta ordered Vice Admiral William McRaven, head of the Joint Special Forces Command, to undertake the mission at 1:22 p.m. on Friday, the CIA had been gaming out how to structure the raid. Months prior, the U.S. had considered expanding the assault to include coordination with other countries, notably Pakistan. But the CIA ruled out participating with its nominal South Asian ally early on because “it was decided that any effort to work with the Pakistanis could jeopardize the mission. They might alert the targets,” Panetta says. (emphasis mine)
When it is all put together, it seems that US didn’t trust Pakistan, and despite President Zardari protestations to the contrary, Pakistan is bowing to pressure from radicals within his country.
Douse the campfire. The feel good moment is over.