Friday, October 21, 2011

Pakistan - Why You Will Soon Miss Washington

The A-Team's In Town
ALEXANDRIA VA, October 21 - The United States has sent the foreign policy A-Team to Islamabad to deliver a stark new message - renounce support of terrorist organizations or else. SECSTATE, DCIA, and CJCS traveled together and presented a united front to the Pakistani government and military.  
“This is a time for clarity,” Mrs. Clinton declared in Kabul, Afghanistan, where she met President Hamid Karzai before leaving for Islamabad, the Pakistani capital. “No one should be in any way mistaken about allowing this to continue without paying a very big price.”
In the wake of the Haqqani attacks on the US Embassy and NATO HQ in Kabul, Admiral Mullen publicly acknowledged what he had known for years "Haqqani Network--which.. is, in many ways, a strategic arm of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence Agency". Mullen did his best to wrestle with the compound problem of the relationship with Pakistan. Those around him have said to MIL INT that he thought he could bring his counterparts around. Regrettably, the US has been played for years. Thankfully, Washington seems to be finally realizing this and taking a harder line at the same time as moving closer to India - a welcome move.

After years of squandering money on Pakistan, America appears to have finally woken up.
The senior administration official said that the administration’s previous efforts to press the Pakistanis to sever support for extremists had clearly failed and now required a more confrontational approach. “Soft love hasn’t worked,” the official said.
The question remains, exactly what the US is implying will be the "very big price". Cutting back on the billions we pay each year to support the regime or bombing? We don't want to be caught in an inverse Teddy moment, where we walk about shouting while wielding a twig. The US doesn't want to expose itself to a "Hans Blix" moment where the worst we can do is "write an angry letter".

In a recent CFR speech the straight talking Senator Levin has said that Pakistan's continued intransigence "is a show-stopper to a normal relationship with the United States". He has argued that the US should walk from the 'partnership' with Islamabad and be prepared "to defend our troops" in the region. This is not the first time Senator Levin has got it right. 

Pakistan might respond by turning to China. So what? They are already deeply engaged with China anyway. Yet there too MIL INT suspects there may be trouble ahead. There is nothing the Chinese hate more than internal trouble makers and if 'elements inside Pakistan' are behind cross-border strife in Western China, then look out Islamabad! The Chinese wont shower you with cash hoping you'll decide to play nice. Oh how you'll miss Washington.

In the same speech Sen Levin also spoke about the dilemma of dealing with GIROA

We should acknowledge that while we can cajole, encourage and pressure the Afghan government to provide good governance, we cannot guarantee it. Only the Afghans can do that. Hopefully the lessons of the Arab Spring have reached Afghanistan: Leaders who fail to deliver accountable and transparent government lose their legitimacy, and they are more and more finding that their political survival is at risk.

The same is true in Islamabad. However change in either capital will not have a shred of hope of leading to democracy. The result of Arab Spring forces in Pakistan might well end in nuclear winter.

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