(CNN)It's an old tactic for an old war, but it shows the focus and emotions are fresh for the Trump administration. By suspending hundreds of millions of dollars of security aid to Pakistan, the White House is striking the first geopolitical blow of its renewed war in Afghanistan. And it's a familiar -- and not entirely unfair -- message: if the war isn't going well, Pakistan is to blame.
- 1. Pakistani officials dig in, taking the broader view that the Trump administration is a short-lived outlier in the global community, and deciding that they don't need to launch a massive and costly military operation in the tribal areas that will bring reprisals to their populated cities. They decide to live without the money, for now, cut off the land supply route into Afghanistan that the American operations there depend upon, and wait it out. Security in Afghanistan continues to worsen, and eventually the US tries to restore aid and relations to get Pakistan on side again.
- 2. Pakistan launches some short-lived and tokenistic operations against the Taliban and the Haqqani Network, which has been behind a lot of the more sophisticated attacks in Afghanistan. The US beings to pay the aid money again, and the Pakistani military elite -- who run a lot of the country and economy -- keep seeing the millions they depend upon. Not a huge amount changes, but the point is made, likely to the sacrifice of Pakistani lives.
- 3. There's a fudge: Pakistan keeps letting the US use the land route to resupply its 14,000 troops in Afghanistan (that's a very expensive 42,000 meals that would otherwise have to be flown daily into a landlocked country). The US slowly allows some "exceptions" to the aid ban to increase, and essentially most of the money keeps coming. But Trump has made his rhetorical point.