Super! Pakistan lets China see downed US stealth helicopter

Let’s not pretend that our relationships in the Af-Pak region aren’t complicated. We’ve got an unpopular government in Kabul who ostensibly want to help us in our fight against the Taliban. But our allies next door in Pakistan have a deeply embedded intelligence service who seem a little too comfortable with the Taliban. Meanwhile, Pakistan hates India, who is also an ally of ours, and they’ve both got nukes. Nothing’s ever easy, is it? But there’s really no excuse for this.

Pakistan gave China access to the previously unknown U.S. “stealth” helicopter that crashed during the commando raid that killed Osama bin Laden in May despite explicit requests from the CIA not to, the Financial Times reported Sunday.

The disclosure, if confirmed, is likely to further shake the U.S.-Pakistan relationship, which has been improving slightly of late after hitting its lowest point in decades following the bin Laden killing in a Pakistani garrison city.

The report said Pakistan, which enjoys a close relationship with China, allowed Chinese intelligence officials to take pictures of the crashed aircraft as well as samples of its special “skin,” which allowed the helicopter to evade Pakistani radar.

I believe the current talking point of the day is that, “China isn’t our enemy, but they are a competitor.” Still, it’s foolish to think we shouldn’t be on our guard against giving away the farm to China in terms of future military presence on the world stage. (You may recall that they’re doing shake-down trials on a brand spanking new aircraft carrier this month.)

So what do you do with somebody like Asif Ali Zardari when open sores like this keep popping up over and over again? Congress has been debating cutting off aid to them since early this year, but thus far it appears to have all been saber rattling. When so much of the money we send them seems to wind up being poured directly into corruption and decay, it begins to look like we’re actually fueling the problem and paying off the bad guys to act slightly less badly.

But if we do pull the trigger and start shutting off the flow of cash, are we driving them further into the arms of China? (Or worse, strengthening the hand of nations like Iran?) It’s getting hard to remember who we’re fighting for over there anymore.