By Adam Levine
Just days after a top American commander in Afghanistan said the situation on the border with Pakistan was improving, the U.S. once again finds itself back in the nadir of relations with the Pakistanis.
The killing of 24 Pakistani soldiers at two military outposts, hit by NATO helicopters near the border area, has pulled the rug out from underneath American efforts to calm a relationship that had been rocked by Pakistani anger at America. (Read the latest on Saturday's incident HERE).
After American special forces snuck into Pakistan to kill Osama bin Laden, an American intelligence contractor killed two Pakistanis, and American officials accused the government of harboring and helping the Haqqani terror network, much work had been done to revive this critical counterterrorism effort though the two countries were barely on solid ground again before Saturday's incident.
A recent Pentagon report to Congress said the ability of insurgents to hide across the border in Pakistan is the greatest threat to success in Afghanistan. The report pointed directly at Pakistani authorities for aiding the strength of insurgents on that side of the border.
The 2012 presidential campaign has also brought forth much heated rhetoric by Republican candidates vying to be seen as standing up to the Pakistanis in a way the Obama administration has not. Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and Texas Governor Rick Perry have called for a zeroing out of foreign aid to the country.
"We were told, a perfectly natural Washington assumption that our killing bin Laden in Pakistan drove U.S.-Pakistan relations to a new low. To which my answer is, well, it should have because we should be furious," said Gingrich at this week's CNN national security debate. "you tell the Pakistanis, help us or get out of the way, but don't complain if we kill people you're not willing to go after on your territory where you have been protecting them."