The Atlantic07/04/2012By [Printer Friendly Version]
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton saved the United States and its allies upwards of $100 million a month with one little word: "Sorry." Clinton announced Tuesday that she'd smoothed things over with Pakistan, which reopened a crucial supply line into Afghanistan after she apologized directly for that disastrous NATO air strike that killed 24 Pakistani troops last November. State didn't cite the economic factor as a reason for Clinton's belated apology, but that extra money was a clear benefit.
As The Associated Press' Bradley Klapper notes, "with the supply lines closed, the U.S. has been forced to use more costly transportation routes through Russia and Central Asia. [Defense Secretary Leon] Panetta has estimated the cost at an extra $100 million a month." That figure had been set to grow as the U.S. withdraws from Afghanistan.
As The New York Times' Eric Schmitt points out, it really was the word "sorry" that was "the clincher" for Pakistan. Clinton had previously expressed her "deepest regrets for the tragic incident," but on Tuesday she finally said the magic words: "We are sorry for the losses suffered by the Pakistani military." When Clinton finally said it, the country not only reopened the supply route but dropped its insistance that U.S. trucking companies pay as much as $5,000 transit fee per vehicle, up from $250 before the attack. The officials lowered their request to $1,000, Schmitt reported, before finally dropping it back down to the original $250. Sorry really is a powerful little word.