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October 28, 2011

The Pakistani Conundrum
Posted by Michael Cohen

Spencer Ackerman is really pissed at Pakistan: Pakistan

It is very difficult to see how non-punitive measures have aided the U.S. in dealing with Pakistan. Massively generous economic assistance, military relief assistance during floods and earthquakes, literally bags full of cash to the military, nuclear-capable fighter jets -- and this is what we get.

Fuck that. No more. It's time for the U.S. to stop issuing idle threats about how Pakistan must take on the Haqqanis OR ELSE. Cut off all aid until the Pakistanis stop helping any insurgent networks and shut the safe havens down. Pull the drones from Shamsi to Jalalabad and fucking bombs-away. Let the Chinese move into Khyber-Pakhtunkwa and announce a brand new relationship with the subcontinent's real superpower, India. Watch that shit concentrate the Pakistani imagination.

Part of American leadership is not allowing client states to dick us around. If this is how Pakistan wants it, then it should get a commensurate response. 

I sympathize with Spencer's frustration; and he's of course right that our client state is dicking us around, but then ALL of our client states dick us around (think about it). Still his solution to the problem is not helpful and won't work.

First, we need Pakistan - both in the counter-terrorism fight against the remnants of al Qaeda and in transporting resources to the fight in Afghanistan. Both of these factors limit how far we can and should go in putting pressure on Pakistan. And of course the Pakistanis know this. When we've reached the point that we don't care what happens within Pakistan's borders we can get tough. But clearly that hasn't happened yet; and won't any time soon.

Second, Pakistan has interests equal to and greater than maintaining its relationship with the United States - namely protecting its interests in Afghanistan. I realize I've become a bit of broken record on this point, but the simple fact is that the Pakistani security services and likely its government have concluded that a strong, independent Karzai government backed by the India is not in Pakistan's strategic interest - at all. This is why they continue to support the various Taliban insurgent groups; so they can maximize their influence in Afghanistan and prevent what would amount to a Karzai, i.e. Indian victory. Every tool that the US has used to try and shift Pakistan away from that strategic calculus has failed, whether its the carrot or the stick (ish). I don't see any reason to believe that a stronger stick will bring better results. If anything, browbeating the Pakistanis and threatening them will almost certainly backfire and would likely work directly against our interests.

Third, Pakistan is more important than Afghanistan. This is the point that all of this flag-waving over Islamabad's behavior seems to miss. In the end, what happens in Afghanistan is of secondary importance to what happens in nuclear-armed, jihadist terrorist supporting Pakistan. At least that is the case from a narrow reading of US interests in the region. The notion that we should get in a pissing match with the Pakistanis to prop our currently losing fight in Afghanistan is the height of folly. Considering that we are already headed toward the exits in Afghanistan our focus should be on repairing relations with Islamabad not making things worse.

In the end, yes the Pakistanis are waging a proxy war in Afghanistan; yes they have the blood of US soliders on their hands; yes they are a lousy, crappy client state. But none of this was a surprise when we chose to escalate in 2009; and there was no good reason to believe that anything would change in the two years hence (and of course nothing has).

Instead of continuing to try - and failing - to convince Pakistan to act in a manner that is contrary to their perceived national interests we should be doing something we haven't really done for ten years: factoring their strategic calculus into our foreign policy decision-making. That would mean pulling back from fighting a completely pointless war in Afghanistan and rather moving forward with a serious and comprehensive strategy for political reconciliation that protects Pakistan's interests in Afghanistan.

Our problems with Pakistan are a direct result of the failed strategy that we've employed in Afghanistan. Fixing that is a heck of a lot more important and worthwhile then getting in a counter-productive pissing match with Pakistan.


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Furthermore, Donilon said the Pakistani government has taken additional material from composites. "We need access to it.

I really like this section of the article:
Our problems with Pakistan are a direct result of the failed strategy that we've employed in Afghanistan. Fixing that is a heck of a lot more important and worthwhile then getting in a counter-productive pissing match with Pakistan.

Very good article, thank you

I like your article so that I read all of your articles in a day.

A conundrum is a paradoxical, insoluble or a difficult problem, a dilemma. The relationship that the US has had with Pakistan for sixty years now fits that description perfectly like a T.

thank you for sharing your good article :)
maybe the God can solve the Pakistani Conundrum ..

very good post Michael! need to say you did a great job and i really appreciate it!

Thank you. Nice.

Amazing post. I like it!

like your article so that I read all of your articles in a day.

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