With friends like these…

By Joshua Steinman

There is a common phrase used in U.S. foreign policy: “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” This mantra is sometimes referred to as “The Jackal Politique,” a term coined by President Jefferson. During his presidency, our country was in danger of being overwhelmed by the French and the British. In order to preserve our existence, Jefferson and others postulated that using our enemies against one another would achieve short- to medium-term foreign policy goals (the most important of which was survival).

Even after the United States established itself as a global power, the Jackal Politique remained. In World War II, the United States used Communist Russia as a bulwark against Nazi Germany. A defeated Third Reich was replaced the by the “Red Menace” threatening to overtake the world. At the height of the Cold War, the United States employed a perversion of the Jackal Politique which was referred to as ABC, Anything But Communism. This policy led the U.S. to back dictators from South America to South Asia.

The ABC/Jackal Politique strategy was tested when the USSR invaded Afghanistan in 1978, when the existing Communist government collapsed. The United States immediately responded by funding the native opposition, the mujahidin. These fighters, led by the eccentric son of a Saudi construction magnate and funded by the United States through an international shell company, successfully routed the Soviets and re-took the country. This unconventional and charismatic leader who routed one of the world’s superpowers? Osama bin Laden. The dark side of the Jackal Politique and ABC foreign policy has always been this: that in funding our enemies’ enemies, we consistently create organizations that not only have U.S. funding, but training. And when the time comes, they know exactly how to fight the hand that fed them.

With the war in Afghanistan over, the prospect of a period of military interdictions in Central and South Asia, and the imminent renewal of war in Iraq, we are again in a position to pick and choose our allies. Major regional military powers Pakistan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia seem to be strategic partners in achieving short-term U.S. foreign policy goals. However, alignment with these powers presents the United States with the same dilemma as did using Islamic mujahidin against the Soviets.

Case in point: two weeks ago, The New York Times reported that North Korea and Pakistan have, over the past year, been carrying out an extensive trade in black-market missile technology. The trades, carried out in full view of U.S. spy satellites, show Pakistani military officers unloading missile technology in North Korea. The greatest insult? The method of their transportation was an American-made C-130 air transport. Pakistan’s fragile government (in fact a military dictatorship established when General Pervez Musharaaf took over the country in a coup d’etat in 1999) has in recent months experienced troubles as a result of its seeming acquiescence to American interests. “Busharaaf” signs have labeled the current Pakistani dictator, as the mullahs in Northern Pakistan have continued to rail against the “heretical government.” In Egypt, which was once a Middle-Eastern partner in peace, the most popular television shows are miniseries that are dedicated to exposing the supposed control Jews hold over world finances, media, and government. In Saudi Arabia, the royal family refuses to take active steps to prevent its upper class from giving money to terrorist organizations including Hezbollah, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade (which pays the families of suicide bombers), and al Qaeda. In the coming months, we must reevaluate our foreign policy priorities. Does the Jackal Politique have a place in the twenty-first century world? Will the allies of today become the enemies of tomorrow? While the State Department, Pentagon, and White House have a need to often use less-than-credible sources and less-than-reputable operatives in achieving short-term goals, by establishing lasting ties with countries whose long-term interests aren’t concurrent with ours, we expose ourselves to dangers unparalleled in a world where allies are temporary, enemies are global, and danger is just a plane ride away.