Should we be surprised that federal authorities have arrested a Washington businessman who, we’re told, was working on behalf of Pakistan's spy agency? Or that the Justice Department says it’s part of a "long-term conspiracy" to influence U.S. officials? No.
Anyone who’s unaware that nations, even friendly ones, spy on or try to influence each other, has no business offering an opinion on foreign policy, frankly. It is – or should be – common knowledge that this goes on.
In "The Irregulars," journalist Jennet Conant relates how the British established an “organization known as the Rumor Factory, which dated back to 1941…” They even manufactured evidence of German aggression that wound up in an FDR speech. As for the Russians, stealing the secrets to the atom bomb was just an average day at the office.
It is particularly unsurprising to hear that Pakistani intelligence (known as the ISI) may be up to shady dealings. What they are doing over here is the least of our problems.
As Heritage regional analyst Lisa Curtis has noted, the “U.S. now possesses evidence that Pakistan-based terrorist groups with ISI links helped harbor bin Laden.” ISI also has links to the Haqqani network, which has engineered terrorist attacks inside Afghanistan, and other groups that have fanned the flames of violence in Kashmir.
But this latest revelation is not an excuse to pull the plug on engaging with Pakistan. The last time the U.S. walked away from dealing directly with the Pakistanis, things in that part of the world only got worse -- and that road led to 9/11.
Furthermore, the nation and the people of Pakistan deserve better than they are getting. Pakistanis have suffered more than their fair share of terrorism in their part of the world. A recent video showed Pakistan policemen being lined up and executed by the Taliban.
The U.S. needs to play tough with Pakistan -- pressing them to what is in the best interest of both our countries -- putting the fight against Islamist terrorist at the top of the agenda. Unfortunately, the president’s policies, which call for a premature drawdown in Afghanistan and talks with the Taliban, don’t help make the case that spying on Islamist terror groups will yield a bigger payback than secretly lobbying Americans.
James Jay Carafano is Deputy Director, The Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies and Director, Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies at the Heritage Foundation.
James Jay Carafano is vice president of foreign and defense policy studies The Heritage Foundation. Follow him on Twitter @JJCarafano.