June 1, 2011  


For lacking a communications plan with Pakistan that might have helped reduce, if not remove, the embarrassment the Osama bin Laden raid caused Islamabad. Another consequence of the White House’s undisciplined approach to its public communications plan immediately following the raid was the inevitable finger-pointing that swiftly humiliated Pakistan, which was left with no face-saving option. There was no avoiding exposing the proximity of bin Laden’s home to Pakistan’s premier military academy after the raid, but more thought could have been put into how the Pakistanis were told, and more behind-the-scenes diplomacy was needed. Getting through this crisis will require more astute and discreet handling than what the White House exhibited in the immediate aftermath. Washington can ill afford the risks associated with a failed Pakistan, a situation that could put nuclear weapons into terrorist hands. So while the removal of bin Laden helps bring closure to 9/11 and enables an Afghanistan exit strategy that would have been impossible as long as he was still alive, the long-term fallout could prove to be a nuclear nightmare. Rebuilding this relationship with Pakistan must be a top U.S. priority.