There's a grade-school-level international game being played. It's like the one you played as a kid when you would have a friend punch you as hard as possible in the stomach to see how long you could keep a fake smile plastered on your face. "Oh, THAT didn't hurt AT ALL! Hit me harder, you wimp!" That, right now, is America -- and it needs to stop.
Let's take two recent beneficiaries of the goodies-for-abuse program: Russia and Pakistan.
Russia apparently doesn't feel that granting asylum to National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden and his multiple laptops and thumb drives is a big deal. Well, Russian President Vladimir Putin, who served as a Russian intelligence chief for the KGB (an agency not known for taking such things lightly), would think that defecting with national intelligence is a big deal. But that's him -- and you're not him, America. And now Putin has something to put on the show-and-tell shelf along with French actor Gerard Depardieu, who apparently decided that the harsh Russian winters and rampant warrantless wiretapping would be worth a tax cut.
But we'll see you in Sochi, America, where you're expected to assist Russia with security for the 2014 Winter Olympics -- at considerable risk for terrorism due to the fact that a Chechen terrorist leader said so. Not to mention the fact that (as predicted in a previous column) analysts are now expressing widespread concern over the movement of al-Qaeda from Syria into the nearby Russian Islamic hotbed of the Northern Caucasus (from where the alleged Boston Marathon bombers hailed), not far from Sochi.
Perhaps America should just say, "Good luck with that Olympic security thing. Hopefully global national-security icon Ed Snowden will keep everything under control for you."
Worse, Russia is still whining about America not letting it bring its scrappy little buddy Iran to the next backstabbing fiesta, also known as the "Geneva 2" negotiations on the Syrian conflict. America should simply respond, "Look, you can bring your Iranian friends, IF they pull all Iranian proxy and state-sponsored fighters out of the region first."
Next up: Pakistan, the third-biggest recipient of U.S. foreign aid last year, at $2.1 billion, behind only Israel and Afghanistan. Pakistan was supposed to use American aid to help fight terrorism along its border with Afghanistan, and to assist in finding Osama bin Laden, who was believed to have been in Pakistan long before the U.S. Navy's SEAL Team 6 ever raided his compound.
A secret Pakistani report -- the Abbottabad Commission report -- about the killing of bin Laden was filed and declared classified in January, but it was recently leaked, unredacted and in its entirety. The report suggests epic levels of backstabbing by America's supposed ally, as might have been deduced by anyone who wondered on that fateful day on May 2, 2011, "How did the world's most wanted man live so comfortably?"
The report reveals that "the CIA did not fully trust the ISI (Pakistani intelligence service) to fully cooperate in the hunt for OBL," and that "the ISI did not properly monitor the phone numbers that were given to it by the CIA." Further, the report concluded: "Regarding the reason for the decision by the U.S. to opt for a unilateral action (in capturing Bin Laden), the (Pakistani) Foreign Secretary believed it was either due to a desire to take sole credit for the operation or due to a lack of trust in Pakistan." The same foreign secretary told the commission it was embarrassing that bin Laden had spent a decade in Pakistan, and that his various wives had even received hospital treatment there.
The former head of the ISI, now-retired Gen. Ziauddin Khwaja, said that former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf knew about bin Laden's safe house, according to an article that former CIA official Bruce Riedel wrote for the Daily Beast.
Musharraf is also being charged in the 2007 death of former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, which the Pakistan Interior Ministry initially chalked up to Bhutto hitting her head on a sunroof when the vehicle she was riding in was attacked. Who knew that "sunroof" meant "bullet" in Pakistan?
Can't America at least make the goodies-for-abuse program more of a meritocracy? In other words, you screw up less, you get more money in your goodie bag. You screw up more -- although it's difficult to imagine that bar being raised any higher -- and you get your allowance cut.