Friday, March 2, 2007

Move Away From Pakistan

It was good to see the administration distance itself from Pakistan this week. During the Clinton administration, a long Cold War involvement with that country was finally cooled as Clinton tried to improve ties with India, which is the obvious thing to do at this point in terms of long-term American interests in the subcontinent. Pakistan has long been more oppressive politically than India, as well as having mafiosi elements in the military who have been involved in indiscriminate arms dealing including nuclear proliferation. It has played both ends against the middle, making deals with the US while maintaining ties with militant Islamic groups and with North Korea, for example. Should the government fall there, it will be identified as a client state of the US and the US will take the blame for decades of authoritarian rule (a good bit of which blame will be justified). The Clinton administration (underestimated on foreign policy) had made good progress in thawing out formal relations with India, among other things by shutting down some of the massive arms dealing with Pakistan. It was yet another disastrous effect of 9/11 that the Bush administration threw over all of that progress for the expediancy of trying to buy out the Pakistanis once again, and we have got precious little back in exchange for all the money and weapons. Osama Bin Laden is likely living in Pakistan right now; certainly Pakistan is the source of supplies and access for the Taliban in Afghanistan. Maybe the Bush administration has finally and belatedly discovered some sources of useful information: the State Department and the CIA.

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