The overwhelming question now is what exactly is our relationship with Pakistan? Bin Laden was not in a cave in FATA, but in a mansion in a major city. Are Pakistani security services so incompetent or is the whole country just pulling the wool over our eyes?
The reality is complicated (with Pakistan it is always complicated.) There are elements of Pakistan’s ISI that have worked very closely with US intelligence. ISI HQ has been bombed by Islamists. There are other elements that have played a less positive role – certainly providing support to groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba. Reports indicate that Pakistani intelligence provided tips to OBL’s location but probably had to make sure their info didn’t leak to other components of Pakistani intelligence.
So what does the US do about this difficult – and nuclear-armed – country?
It is certainly tempting to walk away from Pakistan, treat them like DPRK for supporting terrorism and proliferating nuclear technology. It might be the tough love Pakistan’s leaders need to get their act together.
But Pakistan is sitting on a demographic cliff. The country is already struggling to feed itself and its population is going to double by 2050. Considering that the country is already ungovernable, with the longer-term trends how is this situation likely to go?
On the other hand, so far the US has been terrible at leveraging our aid to get Pakistan to do what we want. (Truth is this is tough to do – the US faced similar challenges fostering reform in Russia in the 1990s, see my analysis of the Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission.)
I expand on these thoughts in Politico‘s Arena where I am a contributor. Some other relevant thoughts along the lines of the geopolitics of terror are here.
Finally, here were my first thoughts on 9/11, seems fitting to repost them.