In view of the current lust of Republican politicians for the environmentally dangerous Keystone Pipeline that would pour filthy shale oil from Canada into the U.S., one can only imagine how those same politicians would react if a foreign country tried to prevent the U.S. from solving its energy problems. But that is exactly what Washington appears to be doing to poverty-stricken Pakistani efforts to emerge from its energy crisis.
The lead paragraph in the Pakistan's English-language daily The Nation says it all:
Notwithstanding the US threats, [my emphasis] Pakistan has not only conveyed its willingness to Iran, it has also stepped up the pace of work on Pak-Iran Gas Pipeline Project. [The Nation 12/20/11.]
Pakistan has many reasons to improve relations with Iran at the expense of the U.S., about which most of official Washington appears oblivious. Indeed, the trend appears very much in the direction of Pakistani-Iranian detente. Pakistan's decision to accelerate construction of a long-planned gas pipeline from Iran, which would represent a huge battlefield defeat for Washington's economic war against the Islamic Republic,will--if not overturned--also accelerate Pakistani-Iranian detente. Combined with separate efforts to construct a joint electricity network, it could make Iran an essential part of Pakistan's future. [A regional perspective on Pakistani-Iranian electricity cooperation is provided by Pakistan's Frontier Post.] Creative U.S. diplomacy might theoretically transform a burgeoning Pakistani-Iranian detente into an opportunity for a trilateral dialogue, perhaps led by Pakistan, which desperately needs cooperative relations with both countries, but little sign of diplomatic creativity has been seen in Washington since Obama's now long-forgotten Cairo address.
The reality seems much grimmer. Unidentified "sources," according to the Pakistani report, claim that Washington has "gone to the extent of threatening President Zardari of economic sanctions if work is not stopped immediately." The minister cut to the chase:
Asked how Pakistan would sustain unprecedented American pressure against this project, the minister said: “Come what may, we will have to learn to live on our own.”
Muslim states simply are not to be allowed to engage in bilateral economic projects that interfere with global superpower strategy. One wonders if anyone in Washington can see how all this, so conveniently for American adversaries in Iran, neatly places Iran and Pakistan in the same box: two innocents suffering from U.S. economic warfare.
The potential size of the U.S. blunder in shoving Pakistan into that box with Iran is suggested by a comment by none other than Pakistan's petroleum minister, who noted that Iran's eager trade partner China would be serving as financial adviser to the project. Can anyone in Washington see the strategic implications of defining the U.S. role as spoiler? If Washington fails in its spoiler role, it nevertheless alienates both Pakistan and China and confirms in their minds the need to work closely with Iran and any other candidate to resist U.S. pressure. If it succeeds in its spoiler role, same outcome. A no-win policy is great policy.