Raymond Davis, the former Special Forces operator and CIA contractor who stands accused of murdering two men in Lahore, Pakistan, is the tipping point of US-Pakistani relations. If he is murdered in his jail cell, as many expect he will be, the Obama Administration will be forced to respond. You don’t leave your warriors on the field of battle. You don’t let “allies” kill your people. It offends every fibre of Jacksonian America.
If Mr. Davis is released, as the US is requesting on grounds of diplomatic immunity, the Pakistani government will face the wrath of its people as never before. It is not clear whether it can survive the blowback.
For the time being, both the United States government and the Pakistani government are letting the impasse stand; the theory being that perhaps time will lower temperatures and something can be worked out once passions have cooled. One hopes that this turns out to be true.
Given everything else that is going haywire around the globe, the last thing US policy-makers can handle right now is the collapse of the Pakistani government. So, for the time being, letting Mr. Davis sit in jail makes sense.
But there’s a limit. The friction point comes when the American electorate adopts Mr. Davis as their cause; when they perceive him not as a prisoner awaiting trial, but as a hostage to hostile forces.
That moment is fast approaching. It will change the dynamic immediately when it does.
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