Pakistan has promised to reopen NATO supply routes into Afghanistan now that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said that the U.S. is sorry for the killing of two dozen Pakistani troops by U.S. airstrikes during a November border flare-up. Pakistan's concession ends a stand-off that had threatened to hamper the U.S. war effort, but Clinton's apology is also fodder for Mitt Romney and other Republicans who have accused President Obama of dimishing America's power by apologizing for U.S. policies abroad. Was this a smart diplomatic move, or a sign of weakness that Obama will regret?
Apologizing was a terrible idea: This is hugely damaging, and unnecessary to boot, says Aaron Goldstein at The American Spectator. First of all, it was Pakistani soldiers who allegedly fired first at a joint U.S.-Afghan force, suggesting that our troops were only acting in self-defense when they killed these Pakistanis. Furthermore, apologizing makes us look weak, and our allies in Afghanistan can't be "too happy about it." If anything, the terrorist coddlers in Islamabad should be apologizing to us "for harboring Osama bin Laden."
"Obama admin apologizes to Pakistan"
The end here clearly justifies the means: Even if it took a humbling apology, getting Pakistan to open its mountain border crossings into Afghanistan was a worthy goal, says Doug Mataconis at Outside the Beltway. "At the very least," it makes it easier to move our military equipment out of Afghanistan. And disengaging there is a step toward untangling ourselves from "this odd relationship with Pakistan that the September 11th attacks forced us into."
"After apology for air strike deaths, Pakistan reopens border crossings"
But the apology is no cure-all: "It never hurts to say sorry," says Ishaan Tharoor at TIME. In this case, it saves everybody money, too, since NATO's alternative supply routes proved quite costly, and Pakistan will now get $1.8 billion in military aid that we were holding back. But Islamabad could face a backlash from a population still furious over ongoing U.S. drone strikes. And Washington can't expect "one symbolic phone call" to magically turn Pakistan into a reliable partner in the war on terrorism.
"Pakistan reopens Afghan supply routes, but larger diplomatic crises loom"