“Round up the usual suspects,” snapped the chief of the Pakistani army.
“Which set?” his aide wanted to know.
“We better round up all of them this time,” said the chief. He was thinking, how the hell did we get into this mess! The Americans were mad because no one had “noticed” bin Laden’s compound a few feet from the military college in Abbottabad. The Pakistanis were mad because no one had “noticed” American helicopters crossing into Pakistani air space, landing at bin Laden’s compound, making all sorts of ruckus, and not leaving until bin Laden had been blown away.
Everyone was screaming betrayal.
When the Pentagon called it was just ridiculous. “We want our $20 billion in military aid back,” some general was screaming. “Talk about money down the toi—“
The chief broke in. “I’m on another line. I’m putting you on hold,” he said. He hated to be rude but someone else was already screaming at him — the American general would have to wait his turn. Then he had a bright idea. He pushed a couple of buttons, hung up his own phone, and poured a cup of coffee.
Ten minutes later the American general called back. “Who the hell was I just talking to?” he said.
“The Taliban,” the chief said.
“Well, the Taliban and the USA agree on one thing,” thundered the general. “You and your pissant country are not to be trusted.”
“We just want to be left alone so we can have our little skirmishes with the Indians in Kashmir and eat mutton,” said the Pakistani chief.
“The American people need answers,” said the general, and hung up.
So now it was time to make a show of concern. Fortunately, no one would demand too much of a show. The chief understood how the game is played. Every great power needs an ally who is not to be trusted. That way, when things go wrong there is a lesser civilization of moral inferiors to blame. An ace in the hole, so to speak. And often enough, things go wrong.