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Monday, February 14, 2005

Pakistan and the U.S.

At a recent press conference, George Bush was asked why we haven't yet been able to capture Bin Laden. His response was, "Because he's hiding."

He's most likely hiding in Pakistan, a country that has often been at odds with United States policy, but now finds itself in the enviable position of having a superpower groveling at its feet begging for support. The U.S. will never find Bin Laden without the active support of the Pakistanis, yet Pakistan is not ignorant of past U.S. practice. Usually, after we get what we want, we go home and then proceed to support India in the war over Kashmir or whatever else they are fighting about.

One of the few reasons for subscribing to cable is to receive C-Span and especially C-Span2 because of BookTV on weekends. I rig my computer to record the shows I want to listen to and convert them to MP3 files for listening at my convenience. Steve Coll's Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001 was one of the interviews this past weekend, and Coll had a great deal to say about the U.S. relationship with Pakistan.

Obviously, Pakistan would benefit from the capture of Bin Laden, but at the same time, runs the risk of then losing whatever influence -- not to mention huge quantities of military aid -- it now has over the United States should he be caught. Seems to me this might be a marvelous opportunity to cement some long-term relationships in that part of the world that always seems ready to blow apart.
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