Snap Fact #249
The Chess Master President Takes Two More Pieces in the Global Chess Game He’s Playing in Pakistan & Afghanistan! 
Gambit #1 Supply trucks roll again after 7 months 

While his detractors still carp that Barack Obama is over his head in his job, The Rational Majority of this country knows better. Observant spectators watch as the President keeps coolly playing one brilliant move after another. 

The irony is that the critics have neither the imagination nor the courage to have come up with any of President Obama’s strategies. Their only job is to snipe and second guess; while his job is being performed brilliantly and imaginatively like no one ever has before him. The President is quietly rewriting the textbooks for both twenty-first century military strategy and modern diplomacy. 

Although the true victory will be when our troops leave Afghanistan in 2014, the President took two more pieces off the board on July 4th and 5th, 2012. Seemingly out of nowhere, U.S. Army trucks started to roll across the Pakistani border after 7 months of a full shutdown of the crossing. The very next day our brilliant Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, made a surprise visit to Afghanistan to formally tighten up our relations with that government so our exit in 2014 leaves that country more secure. 

Rest assured that these events were not suddenly created seat-of-the-pants gambits; they were well planned and calculated moves to achieve a successful end game to the wars that were irresponsibly started and run by the previous administration. 

Today and tomorrow we will look at these latest of President Obama’s foreign relations accomplishments in a game that seems to astonish and baffle everyone but the master chess player himself. We will start with the reopening of the Afghanistan–Pakistan border today and move on to study the significance of our up-graded relationship with the Karzai government of Afghanistan tomorrow. 

On the morning of July 5, 2012 we woke up to headlines reading “NATO supply trucks cross Pakistan boarder for the first time in 7 months”. 

While so much campaign attention is focused on domestic issues the crucial foreign relations component of running our government must not be ignored. In a word, our President has been absolutely BRILLIANT in orchestrating our interaction with the world beyond our shores. 

He has been conducting his foreign policy like Toscanini flawlessly conducting the New York Philharmonic; transforming a diverse potpourri of instruments and artists into a divine blend of celestial harmonic resonance. 

President Obama’s facile baton has conducted much of the world to again view the United States of America as THE world leader. Through his unerring ear for taking the right path, and his many successes he has earned the respect and confidence of the various elements of the world orchestra. He has done this without ever threatening or bullying, but by using logic and reason that leads people to see mutual benefits and act accordingly. 

On a concrete level he has brought the disparate players into a harmonic blend time after time. Consider just a few examples of his leadership on the world stage. The Iran sanctions have made a difference in that state of affairs; even Russia and China have unbelievably fallen into line on that issue. His economic advice has been sought after by most other countries, even the Europeans who were going in another direction now seek his council. His innovative and courageous fight against terrorism has kept out shores safe while he has decimated a reeling terrorist movement. His unambiguous and unqualified support of Israel has helped to shore up that little bastion of democracy and his strong leadership has, at least for now, avoided a devastating war. His brilliant Yemen policy has made a former basket case country relatively stabilized and aggressively pursuing the hotbed of terrorists residing within their borders. One could go on and on.  
Of course in such a divisive and complex world it would not be possible to have everything go exactly the way you’d like it to go every time. The incredibly multifarious society and fragmented government of Pakistan present the President with an almost hopelessly tight spot to maneuver in. How is the First Chess Master doing under such difficult circumstances? 

The game took a disastrous turn 7 months ago. The border was closed to our use one day after a NATO attack regrettably killed 24 Pakistani soldiers on November 26, 2011. These friendlies were mistakenly believed to be enemy combatants and their unit was wiped out. Nato's supplies have been stuck in Karachi, Pakistan and other boarder locations ever since. 

The blunder has cost us heavily in the strategic, political, and financial realms. Looking ahead to our 2014 Afghanistan withdrawal we stood to lose hundreds of millions more and be mightily burdened in our attempt to move our men and equipment out of the country. 

Politically, the incident upset our already shaky relations with the sharply divided Pakistani government. Pakistan immediately unleashed its most potent weapon against the U.S. – it shut down our only practical supply lines into Afghanistan. It should be noted that this had been done before, once in 2010 and again in 2011, but these were mild rebukes and only lasted a short time. 

This time it was different. Tensions, already near a breaking point over our persistent drone attacks as well as the Bin Laden raid, exploded into a practical breakdown in relations between the two governments. Both sides hardened positions and neither could hear the other’s side of the argument. 

So on July 5th the BBC reported that “trucks supplying NATO in Afghanistan crossed the border from Pakistan for the first time in seven months after Islamabad reopened transit routes.” How did President Obama get us from there to here? 

The answer lies with his usual respectful, firm, and sensible diplomacy that Mitt Romney nor his “shoot first ask questions later” handlers ever would have begun to understand much less implement. 

Ultimately, an apology was in order. Big men know how to apologize when they’ve done something wrong while their lessers stick to their guns no matter if they are empty of ammunition. The President tendered that apology but several moves had to be made before he arrived at the point that it was going to effectively serve the United States. 

The Pakistani authorities had a legitimate complaint and the muscle to give us major grief. Rather than threatening or, on the other extreme caving, the President called the Pakistani’s hand by immediately withholding over $1 billion in military aid to Pakistan’s military. 

Pakistan countered by increasing their border toll from $250 for each truck that crossed, to $5,000 for each vehicle loaded on our trucks. The President refused to pay a cent over the original fee. 

The negotiations went back and forth but the President stood firm in his resolve. Finally the Pakistanis got their apology and the withheld funds began flowing again along with our supplies. Just by standing firm and pointing the way two what was mutually beneficial the President again proved his mettle and his leadership qualities. Those who know the truth ought not dare question Barak Obama’s strength of character. 

As a postscript to this exploit, it is of interest to note that on December 12, 2011, Pakistan's prime minister said that, “neither country trusts the other”. On July 5, 2012 Pakistan has said it hopes the move will improve relations with the US and other NATO countries. This shift in attitude is an intangible but these intangibles are the things that lead the dog.