Pakistan Flips Off U.S. on Copter: Losers Can't Be Choosers

It is no surprise at all that Pakistan's intelligence services would show Chinese military staff the wrecked "stealth helicopter" in Osama bin Laden's Abbottabad compound.

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"Losers can't be choosers," former Pakistan ISI Chief Hamid Gul told a packed audience at last year's Al Jazeera Forum in Doha.

Gul was sharing his impression that America had essentially lost the battle with the Taliban in Afghanistan -- but that the Taliban would be 'honorable', in his words, and would allow America a graceful but loser's exit out of the country.

Bravado or not, Gul's perspective is shared by many in Afghanistan and Pakistan.  A "stalemate", the current messy equilibrium between the Taliban and ISAF forces in Afghanistan, translates to those on the ground here as American failure.

And on the flip side of less faith in -- and less fear of -- an America in decline, is greater solicitation of China.

It is no surprise at all that Pakistan's intelligence services would show Chinese military staff the wrecked "stealth helicopter" in Osama bin Laden's Abbottabad compound.

On one level, if this Financial Times story is confirmed and Pakistan did show China the copter, this is absolutely outrageous behavior by a supposed ally.  On another level though, the US is naive not to expect this -- and now must assume that Pakistan will smile at the US, declare that it's interests are aligned with America's, and then slip a knife into the US gut when it it helps position Pakistan with China's top tier.

Until the US -- meaning the White House, the Congress, leaders of both political parties -- get serious about resetting US strategy to reinvent American leverage in global affairs and to overcome the widespread doubt about America's ability to achieve the things it says it will, the world will chase China's affections -- and take their incumbent relations with the United States for granted.

Power is a function of future expectations, and in that department -- the US is not playing its hand well.

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Steve Clemons is Washington editor at large for The Atlantic and editor of Atlantic Live. He writes frequently about politics and foreign affairs. More

Clemons is a senior fellow and the founder of the American Strategy Program at the New America Foundation, a centrist think tank in Washington, D.C., where he previously served as executive vice president. He writes and speaks frequently about the D.C. political scene, foreign policy, and national security issues, as well as domestic and global economic-policy challenges.

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