As we noted earlier, those looking for a bombshell buried in the 90K+ documents released by Wikileaks this weekend regarding the Afghanistan war will be disappointed.
The documents paint a picture of frustration and the hell of war, but in terms of a smoking gun that will hasten the US withdrawal, there probably isn’t one.
The most salient news is the confirmation that our supposed allies in Pakistan — who just received $7.5 billion in fresh aid from the US last week — have been covertly working with the Taliban. Well, at least the Pakistani spy service has been doing that. But then, this is only news in the modest sense that there had never been confirmation of this. But it’s been presumed that our friends in Pakistan weren’t always necessarily on our side.
But this is actually a huge deal, as David P. Goldman, writing under his pseudonym Spengler, notes in his latest column at Asia Times Online. The fact is, everyone wants to maintain the Pakistani lie, rather than acknowledge the scary alternative.
To exit the Afghan quagmire in a less than humiliating fashion, the United States requires Pakistani help to persuade the Taliban not to take immediate advantage of the American departure and evoke Vietnam-era scenes of helicopters on the American Embassy roof. The politicians in Washington know they have lost and have conceded to the Taliban a role in a post-American Afghanistan. They can only hope that once the country plunges into chaos, the public will have moved onto other themes, much as it did after the Bill Clinton administration put Kosovo into the hands of a gang of dubious Albanians in 1998.
India does not want America to call Pakistan to account. In the worst case, Pakistan might choose to support the Taliban and other terrorist organisations – including Kashmiri irredentists – openly rather than covertly. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, of whom the Economist on July 25 wrote “the strength of his coalition depends largely on how weak he is as Prime Minister”, does not want to confront Pakistan. If Pakistan’s support for anti-Indian terrorism became undeniable, India would have to act, and action is the last thing the Congress party-led coalition in New Delhi wants to consider.
China has no interest in destabilization in Pakistan; on the contrary, Beijing lives in fear that radical Islamists in Pakistan might infect its own restive Uyghurs. And Iran, which shares the fractious Balochis with Pakistan on their common border, lives in terror that a destabilized Pakistan would free the Balochis to make trouble.
Wow! You’re not going to find many situations in which India, China, Iran, and the US are all on the same side, but Pakistani stability may just be it.
So, will the confirmation that Pakistan is a frenemy (at best) change anything? Well, we know Hamid Karzai is corrupt, and that doesn’t change much.
Expect the official line to be: Well, Pakistani’s leadership is committed to rooting out corruption. We must give them our support.
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