Long before he became president Barack Obama had carved out a reasonably aggressive policy towards Pakistan and its equivocating stance towards Al Qaeda. In fact, it was early on in his candidacy (August 1, 2007, in fact) that he gave a speech to the Woodrow Wilson International Center which promised that the Americans would do to the terrorists what the Pakis would not. Of course, almost all of Obama's opponents jumped on him, including Joseph Biden, now his vice president and still taking pot shots at his policies, and Hillary Clinton who ... well, she's all over the place. So what else is new? Christopher Dodd said he wouldn't say anything, then went on to say too much.
Pakistan is sabotaging the American effort to rescue the country from the Taliban and also its Al Qaeda allies. The dilemma this presents to the United States is laid out in a characteristically spot-on dispatch by senior New York Times correspondent Jane Perlez: "Rebuffing U.S., Pakistan Balks At Crackdown.
Demands by the United States for Pakistan to crack down on the strongest Taliban warrior in Afghanistan, Siraj Haqqani, whose fighters pose the biggest threat to American forces, have been rebuffed by the Pakistani military, according to Pakistani military officials and diplomats.
This is a case of both concrete and cosmic chutzpah. The Pakistani details in the Perlez story are paradigmatic of the behavior of Muslim states besieged by forces even more religiously extreme than themselves. They know that the U.S. is their singular protector. Saudi Arabia, for example. But, somehow, they can't behave in logical and practical comradeship with America. And it's not that the monarchy is so finicky in using their arms. For example, as the New York Times reported, the royal air force dropped bombs on a market in Houthi Shi'a area of Yemen, killing at least 35 civilians. The targeted announced that twice the number were killed. Who knows?
But the stakes in and for Saudi Arabia are very big. So the kingdom can be counted on not to be too finicky about observing the rules of war.
Pakistan is very different. The country is compromised and corrupt through and through. It might not fight at all.