Belmont Club

A Tangled Web

Bill Roggio cites Pakistani newspapers which report that hundreds of people, including politicians and a federal lawmaker, have gathered to commemorate Bin Laden. They also denounced the U.S. for killing him and violating Pakistani sovereignty. Another newspaper urged the government to counter the impression that Pakistan provided “safe sanctuaries of terrorists on its soil.”

The Pakistani Army said “a decision had been made to reduce the number of U.S. military personnel to the ‘minimum essential’ levels.” They warned that

it would review its military and intelligence cooperation with Washington if the United States carries out any more similar raids. Earlier, the government had warned of “disastrous consequences” if the U.S. staged a similar attack on its territory.

They would say that, wouldn’t they, after Osama bin Laden had been found hiding less than a mile from their military academy.

The government of Pakistan, or a rogue element within it, has for some time been waging an undeclared and treacherous war on the United States. Their public responses so far have not been to regret this fact, but to haughtily insist that they be allowed to continue this belligerence undisturbed and, if possible, at the expense of the U.S. taxpayer.

They are free to wish for anything they want. But sooner or later history demonstrates that those who wage war in treachery are sooner or later the object of return fire. Unless Pakistan changes its policies, it will eventually provoke a reaction that cannot be deflected by insincere protestations of innocence. And that day will be a day of disaster for Pakistan and its people.

The response will not necessarily come from America. But it will come from somebody. Islamabad has shown a shocking willingness to use force outside its borders. In India. In Afghanistan. In Bahrain. And in downtown Manhattan. It is out of control. Even if it decided to amend its ways, the numerous terror groups it has spawned may yet continue to rampage on their own, like berserk Frankenstein monsters. Pakistan is its own worst enemy.

What the Bin Laden raid should tell Islamabad is that its cover stories are blown. They don’t work any more. The secret pathways of its belligerence are no longer hidden. It cannot know the extent to which its communications, human networks, funding sources, and strategic direction have been penetrated by America. Or to what extent that penetration has been shared with others it has attacked through the years. Yet it must realize that at the minimum their plots have been laid bare enough to find their deepest secret and to brandish it in their faces.

Their cloaking device has failed and the U.S. is now pointing out that their fly is unzipped.  Walter Scott, in his poem Marmion, argued that plots have a tendency to go astray.

The poem tells how Lord Marmion, a favourite of Henry VIII of England, lusts for Clara de Clare, a rich woman. He and his mistress, Constance De Beverley, forge a letter implicating Clara’s fiancé, Sir Ralph De Wilton, in treason. Constance, a dishonest nun, hopes that her aid will restore her to favour with Marmion. When De Wilton loses the duel he claims in order to defend his honour against Marmion, he is obliged to go into exile. Clara retires to a convent rather than risk Marmion’s attentions. Constance’s hopes of a reconciliation with Marmion are dashed when he abandons her; she ends up being walled up alive in the Lindisfarne convent for breaking her vows. She takes her revenge by giving the Abbess who is one of her three judges documents that prove De Wilton’s innocence. De Wilton, having returned disguised as a pilgrim, follows Marmion to Edinburgh where he meets the Abbess, who gives him the exonerating documents. When Marmion’s host, the Earl of Angus, is shown the documents, he arms De Wilton and accepts him as a knight again. De Wilton’s plans for revenge are overturned by the battle of Flodden Field. Marmion dies on the battlefield, while De Wilton displays heroism, regains his honour, retrieves his lands, and marries Clara.

It contains these lines, which doubtless British-educated Pakistanis know by heart.

Yet Clare’s sharp questions must I shun
Must separate Constance from the nun
Oh! what a tangled web we weave
When first we practise to deceive!

Plots have a way of rebounding on the plotter. If Pakistan continues to war against its neighbors, continues to kill and bold-facedly deny it while their hands are dripping red, then that favor, in open or in secret, will one day be returned. The wheel of karma turns and it will turn the circle.


“No Way In” print edition at Amazon
Tip Jar or Subscribe for $5