The GOP & Bibi


My latest column, which appears in tomorrow's print editions of Gulf News, looks at the quite extraordinary spectacle in Washington last week, in which Congressional Republicans lined up publicly behind a foreign leader in opposition to the President of the United States.

Differing loudly and publicly with the President on foreign policy is not the issue. That is a correct and time-honored feature of American politics. But what we saw last week was something very different, and it sets a very bad precedent.

Click here to read the column. Please return here to the home page to leave comments.

As news of Bin Laden's death broke last night Gulf News moved my column up to Tuesday's paper, instead of my usual Wednesday slot. You can read the finished column here. Please return to this page to leave comments.

There is nothing wrong with celebrating the death of Osama Bin Laden. America, as a society, clearly needs a sort of collective form of closure and it has been obvious over the last 12 hours that Bin Laden's death offers that.

At the risk of being a party-pooper, however, I think it is important to offer two warnings. The first, outlined at greater length in the column, is that we do ourselves a disservice if we believe that Bin Laden's death 'ends' something. The man is gone, but the vicious ideology he came to embody is far from dead. Closure regarding 9/11 is good in a narrow sense, but just as it was always a mistake to think of ourselves as being at 'war' with a tactic, it is an equally grave mistake to believe that killing one man will make that tactic go away.

Second, it is difficult to see how the circumstances surrounding Bin Laden's demise can do anything other than complicate our already-difficult relationship with Pakistan. It is simply impossible to believe that Bin Laden could have been living for an extended period in a suburb of Islamabad - a suburb reportedly popular with retired Pakistani generals, and in a compound only a few hundred meters from a military academy - without some very senior Pakistani officials being aware of that fact. In his statement Sunday night President Obama declared that the Pakistanis had offered unspecified assistance in the Navy SEAL operation that killed Bin Laden. I find this very, very hard to believe and think we must assume those comments were little more than an effort to help the Pakistanis save face.

Not that we really needed further evidence, but here, again, is proof that Washington and Islamabad are playing from vastly different scripts where both Al-Qaeda and Afghanistan are concerned. We and the Pakistanis are clearly stuck with each other, and this is only going to make our shotgun marriage that much more dysfunctional.