U.S.-Pakistani Ties in a Tailspin
by PETER BROOKES
August 19, 2011
The Pakistani army takes U.S. stealth helicopter parts from Bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, May, 2011.
If true, America should be outraged that Pakistan reportedly gave China access to the tail section of a downed U.S. “stealth” Black Hawk helicopter that was involved in the Osama bin Laden take-down in May.
China and Pakistan deny the matter, but we shouldn’t really be shocked. In fact, the troubling twist of events should serve to better inform our thinking about Washington’s relationship with Islamabad.
Sure, some assert that giving Chinese spies a peek at the chopper was just a fit of Pakistani pique over having been roundly embarrassed by the raid on Osama’s compound. But, it’s almost certainly more than that.
First, Islamabad and Beijing have been tight for half a century, especially since the Chinese fought a 1962 border war against their mutual rival and neighbor: India.
China is a major arms supplier to Pakistan, helping Islamabad distract and balance New Delhi. Beijing helped Islamabad develop its nuclear weapons, sold it nuclear-capable ballistic missiles and co-produces jet fighters with it, too.
In return, Pakistanis give the Chinese access to Arabian Sea ports near the oil-rich Persian Gulf and try to keep the lid on Islamist extremists who may be training or plotting in Pakistan for attacks in China’s restive Muslim West.
Plus, China is involved in a disturbing military buildup and getting their hands on advanced U.S. technology is Beijing’s high spy priority.
The Black Hawk’s tail section, especially its design and coating, would be of interest to China’s military, which sees us as a likely future foe. This incident should clarify that Pakistan, while no enemy of the U.S., is no ally either. It’s unlikely Islamabad is in our corner on fighting terrorism or Afghanistan.
The U.S.-Pakistan relationship continues to reach new lows, giving rise to what should be a serious policy pause, including continuing to condition American security aid on counterterrorism cooperation.
This latest report out of Pakistan should serve as another caution sign to us as we stumble forward with Islamabad on issues of common concern. Forewarned is forearmed.
FamilySecurityMatters.org Contributing Editor Peter Brookes is Senior Fellow, National Security Affairs and Chung Ju-Yung Fellow for Policy in the Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation. He also spent some time aboard Navy EP-3 recce birds checking on Cold War bad guys. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.