Oil and Afghanistan Mean That the United States Has Little Leverage Over Pakistan

We need to keep the troops in Afghanistan supplied, Robert Bryce writes.

A Pakistani tribal man walks past burning oil tankers parked near the Torkham border, the bordering area of the troubled Khyber tribal region where Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked insurgents have carried out a series of attacks.

A Pakistani tribal man walks past burning oil tankers parked near the Torkham border.

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If the U.S. loses its fuel supply line from Pakistan, "there's no way we can fly enough fuel into Afghanistan to supply the troops. We don't have enough tankers or enough personnel," says a senior civilian analyst at the Pentagon who asked that his name not be used because he was not authorized to speak to the press. "Even if we could do it the cost would be horrendous—maybe $40 to $50 per gallon of fuel delivered."

The U.S. military now has about 32,000 troops in Afghanistan. And while those soldiers may be hoping to uproot the Taliban and bring some measure of stability to Afghanistan, their key vulnerability involves one of the oldest problems in warfare: logistics. Those logistics are largely controlled by Pakistan, an unstable mess of a country that could devolve into chaos at any time. The latest hostilities between Pakistan and India only add to America's hypercomplicated diplomatic and logistical challenges in the region.

Robert Bryce ' s latest book is Gusher of Lies: The Dangerous Delusions of "Energy Independence."

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