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The U.S. and Pakistan
December 22, 2011 2:44 PM   Subscribe

The Pakistanis Have A Point: Sure they can be infuriating, not to mention duplicitous, paranoid and self-pitying. But you try being a U.S. ally. -Bill Keller, NYTimes Magazine

Previously:
Pakistan: The Ally From Hell
Pakistan and India
posted by beisny (38 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
Oh, hey, Pakistan, did you carry out a massive terrorist attack on Mumbai a few years back? Yes? And you also turned out to be hiding your best mate Osama bin Laden? Is your intelligence service barely separable from Al Queda? Oh it is? And you feel a little hard done by? Go fuck yourself, Pakistan.
posted by Artw at 2:53 PM on December 22, 2011 [21 favorites]


Those things don't violate what seems to be the actual deal, which is that they'll stick to terrorism using conventional weapons as long as we fund it.
posted by longtime_lurker at 3:07 PM on December 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Pakistan is not a monolith. Just like every other country there are more or less conservative elements in it that are jockeying for position. Every time people tell Pakistan to go fuck itself, you're giving the conservative elements more ammunition. Let's try to separate the government from the people, as well as the civilian government from the military and ISI.
posted by peacheater at 3:09 PM on December 22, 2011 [12 favorites]


Maybe, but i don't think we are doing anyone any favors by playing daft games of "let's pretend" about which of those is actually running the show and what they are up to.
posted by Artw at 3:13 PM on December 22, 2011


The problem with the plea that we separate the various parts of the Pakistani government in our consideration is that it plays into Pakistan's endless willingness to try to deal with the US simultaneously as our dependent, our ally, the friend of our enemies, and our deadly enemy. For example, which is the ISI?
posted by bearwife at 3:14 PM on December 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


this is from last month. we already discussed this.
posted by facetious at 3:15 PM on December 22, 2011


They should have got Frank Miller for the illustrations.
posted by The Hamms Bear at 3:17 PM on December 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Bill Keller, the nytimes B-team when Friedman isn't available for big picture navelgazing... gotta keep the dinner party circuit fresh.
posted by ennui.bz at 3:23 PM on December 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Pakistan is a nuclear power.

The end.
posted by Sys Rq at 3:39 PM on December 22, 2011 [5 favorites]


A valid point.
posted by Artw at 3:42 PM on December 22, 2011


I just recently read that famous Taliban book by that guy who I don't remember. It was one excellent cure against all easy judgements. Because, after all, the summary of the book could perhaps run like this: Taliban was allied to Pakistan who was allied with USA who was allied to Mujahediin who had relations to Taliban whom the USA hated but who was supported by Pakistan who was supported by the USA who hated Iran who hated the Taliban thus who was allied to USA but no since it was Iran and then oil and Turkey who was US ally then not and then Pakistan was Taliban was with USA against USA then Iran and anyway Saudis supported Taliban and were allies with the USA but since they supported Taliban Iran hated them and Pakistan hated them and USA liked them until USA hated them because Taliban.


And then feminists went to see Hillary Clinton and after that USA has hated Taliban ever since.

True story!
posted by Pyrogenesis at 3:43 PM on December 22, 2011 [6 favorites]


U.S.: ‘Lack of Trust’ in Pakistanis Fueled Helo Disaster
posted by homunculus at 3:45 PM on December 22, 2011


What other country do we know that is infuriating, not to mention duplicitous, paranoid and self-pitying? Practically every critical word that applies to Pakistan so far in this thread equally applies to the USA, except that instead of specific terrorist attacks they started an illegal war which killed at least 100,000 people.
posted by biffa at 3:47 PM on December 22, 2011 [12 favorites]


The same description applies to Ralph Nader.
posted by humanfont at 4:02 PM on December 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Let's try to separate ... the civilian government from the military and ISI.

This part can be pretty hard.
posted by snofoam at 4:21 PM on December 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


self-pitying
Self-pitying? Seriously? The other day We bombed a Pakistani military outpost, in error. And there have been a lot of civilian deaths in Pakistan due to drone strikes and Keller wants to criticise them for being "self-pitying"? ? Seriously?
Oh, hey, Pakistan, did you carry out a massive terrorist attack on Mumbai a few years back? Yes? And you also turned out to be hiding your best mate Osama bin Laden? Is your intelligence service barely separable from Al Queda? Oh it is? And you feel a little hard done by? Go fuck yourself, Pakistan.
Yeah, what kind of fucked up country acts in it's own best interests instead of ours! Don't they know that the only moral thing is to do what America wants them to do!?

Not that their government any sort of paragon. And the Mumbai attacks were horrible, and done by a group associated with the intelligence services, although I know if a clear line has ever been drawn between the pakistani government, and the attacks.
The same description applies to Ralph Nader.
Is this sarcasm, or a "it's your fault your husband beats you because you let him get drunk" logic where because he ran for president and lost, bush got in and pushed the war in Iraq?
posted by delmoi at 5:12 PM on December 22, 2011 [7 favorites]


And the US is not its military, govt, FBI, NSA, CIA etc and just love the people
posted by Postroad at 5:13 PM on December 22, 2011


Here's how I understand the situation Pyrogenesis:

The three biggest countries in Asia are China, India and the USSR. Of the three, India was the one that wasn't Communist, so it would be the most likely US ally.

BUT WAIT! See India and the USSR were sort of friends, since they both had beefs with China over borders and some such. They weren't allies by any means because one of them was communist and the other was not communist, but they got along well enough because they had a mutual enemy: China.

BUT WAIT! See China and the USA were sort of friends, since they both had beefs with the USSR over borders and some such. They weren't allies by any means because one of them was communist and the other was not communist, but they got along well enough because they had a mutual enemy: the USSR.

There was also Pakistan, which hated India and no one else. Pakistan wasn't communist, so that wasn't a reason for China to support it; and it wasn't in danger of ever going red, so that wasn't a reason for the US to support it. But because Pakistan and China both didn't like India while the USSR kind of did, THAT was a good enough reason to for them both support Pakistan and yadda...yadda...yadda we're still in the region despite bin Laden dead and anyone else involved in 9/11 dead or in custody, because of reasons.
posted by riruro at 5:41 PM on December 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is your intelligence service barely separable from Al Queda?

The same could be asked about the CIA.
posted by ymgve at 5:55 PM on December 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


There was also Pakistan, which hated India and no one else. Pakistan wasn't communist, so that wasn't a reason for China to support it; and it wasn't in danger of ever going red, so that wasn't a reason for the US to support it.

Well, except for their neighbour,Afghanistan, which did "go red." Ta-da, Pakistan and the US are allied with the Mujahideen against the USSR in the Afghan war.
posted by Sys Rq at 5:59 PM on December 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is all a consequence of the "Great Game"
posted by Renoroc at 6:06 PM on December 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


The game isn't that great. Maybe the Pakistanis should stop helping the Taliban and trying to turn Afghanistan into their colonial outpost. Also if their soldiers wern't shooting at our people and helping jihadi's come over the border to suicide bomb downtown Kabul then they would be less likely to get "bombed by mistake" in a "tragic accident".
posted by humanfont at 6:41 PM on December 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is this sarcasm, or a "it's your fault your husband beats you because you let him get drunk" logic where because he ran for president and lost, bush got in and pushed the war in Iraq?

The "its all the fault of Bush" crowd should answer exactly how the general US policy of intervention would have been different. How the sending of money and support to elements like Bin Laden or even Saddam Hussein would have stopped.

There is a long-term pattern going on. How does swapping figureheads change that pattern?
posted by rough ashlar at 7:59 PM on December 22, 2011


As much as I admire Ronald Reagan's frankness (*) and his uncompromising stance against communism, I can't help thinking that if he had just left Afghanistan the hell alone it might have become part of the Soviet Union, but when the USSR collapsed it would just be another failed ex-Soviet state, Pakistan wouldn't have battened on three decades of US largesse, and we wouldn't be facing a nuclear power riddled with terrorist supporters. Oh, and the USA would be several trillion dollars richer.

(*) Well, yeah, he was frankly lying about the Contras.
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:11 PM on December 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Jimmy Carter and Zbigniew Brzezinski were at least as responsible if not more so than Reagan. Not to mention Zia Al Haq the Pakistani dictator at the time. Pakistan always trying to get us into some shit in Central Asia so they can keep the US military aid flowing.
posted by humanfont at 8:49 PM on December 22, 2011


ymgve: "Is your intelligence service barely separable from Al Queda?

The same could be asked about the CIA.
"

Really? Please.
posted by Splunge at 12:07 AM on December 23, 2011


Pakistan wouldn't have battened on three decades of US largesse,

Pakistan was always going to be battened on to US largese. The US has long been Pakistan's strongest supporter, including through the pogroms in what is now Bangladesh.
posted by rodgerd at 1:20 AM on December 23, 2011


The game isn't that great. Maybe the Pakistanis should stop helping the Taliban and trying to turn Afghanistan into their colonial outpost.
But, from their perspective, why would they? The reason they want to keep Afghanistan as an ally is that they are concerned they might need to use that region if India were to invade, while on the other hand, if Afghanistan is free of Pakistani influence, then India might gain influence. That is as scary to them as the soviets gaining influence in Mexico and Canada would be to us in the cold war.
Remember, Pakistan doesn't really care that much about us or our fight with the Taliban. They fear India. This is a cold war between two countries that share a border, with a larger combined population then the U.S and Russia combined, but with a much greater divergence in economic output.

So the question is, if you think Pakistan should get out of Afghanistan, how would be able to remain as safe as they currently are from India if they do?

To be clear, I don't really care how safe Pakistan is from India. I certainly like India more then Pakistan. However, what you're seeing sounds very arrogant here. You're demanding that Pakistan act in the interests of the U.S. instead of their own interests. Well, of course they're not going to do that. Why on earth would they?

And seriously, what's your answer here? why should Pakistan prioritize our national interest over their own here? Is there something that the U.S. could offer them in return for giving up control over Afghanistan by dropping taliban support and shutting down the border? If so, what is it?

If you were a U.S. negotiator, what would you be telling them?

---

My solution: GTFO. Keep CIA around to keep tabs on any Al Quaeda resurgence, but 9/11 was 10 years ago. A lot of the current crop of Taliban fighters were just kids at the time. They weren't responsible. It would suck for the women there, but it sucks for women in Saudi Arabia, and we aren't bombing there. And it actually sucks worse for women in Iraq then it did in the pre-Saddam era, since Saddam was a modernist who wanted to emulate the west, now the country is run by much more theocratic people.
posted by delmoi at 1:49 AM on December 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


rodgerd: "Pakistan was always going to be battened on to US largese. The US has long been Pakistan's strongest supporter, including through the pogroms in what is now Bangladesh."

Speaking of which, this 40-years-and-a-few-days old article is worth a read.
posted by vanar sena at 3:47 AM on December 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


rodgerd: "Pakistan was always going to be battened on to US largese. The US has long been Pakistan's strongest supporter, including through the pogroms in what is now Bangladesh."
The U.S. is a pretty fickle friend. Just ask Qaddafi
posted by delmoi at 10:46 AM on December 23, 2011


And there have been a lot of civilian deaths in Pakistan due to drone strikes and Keller wants to criticise them for being "self-pitying"?

Pakistan's legal fight to end the drone war: As civilian deaths in Pakistan mount from the US drone war, legal groups work to raise awareness - and impose justice.
posted by homunculus at 11:28 AM on December 23, 2011


Obama Should Apologize. The facts are in: NATO forces mistakenly killed Pakistani soldiers. It’s time to swallow American pride and say we’re sorry.
posted by homunculus at 1:51 PM on December 23, 2011


The "its all the fault of Bush" crowd should answer exactly how the general US policy of intervention would have been different. How the sending of money and support to elements like Bin Laden or even Saddam Hussein would have stopped.

That's what the UN is for.

There is a long-term pattern going on. How does swapping figureheads change that pattern?

If you mean "Regime Change," the answer is simple: When a puppet government, installed with neither oversight nor foresight, goes a bit funny in the head (as puppet governments are wont to do) it is in the puppetmaster's interest to scrap the puppet show and start over from scratch. Instigating a coup, while an incredibly messy process that fails to address the fundamental fuckedupness of the situation, creates a convenient power vacuum (read: lawless bombed-out hellscape in which civilians will accept any authority over none) into which a newer, more obedient puppet government can be installed. Lather, rinse, repeat.

But if you mean to suggest that the President of the United States is a figurehead, you either don't know what a figurehead is, or what the Executive Branch does.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:07 PM on December 23, 2011


So the question is, if you think Pakistan should get out of Afghanistan, how would be able to remain as safe as they currently are from India if they do?

Stop sending terrorists into India and Kashmir. Pakistan is punching out of its weight class and picking fights like a drunk on Red Bull. They are waving a loaded gun around the bar. Right now we'd just like them to calm down. Sooner or later if they don't some bad shit will happen.
posted by humanfont at 6:13 PM on December 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Little Girl Mutilated by Obama's Drone Warfare Comes to U.S. For Surgery

First comment calls it manipulative, but ... well, it's accurate.
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:36 AM on December 24, 2011


Al-Qaida leadership almost wiped out in Pakistan, British officials believe. Senior members of al-Qaida are feared to be moving to north Africa to open up a new front after being weakened in Pakistan
posted by homunculus at 12:40 AM on December 26, 2011


We've made progress fighting 'blame al-Qaida syndrome', but the search for new threats creates another dangerous disorder
posted by Grangousier at 3:44 AM on December 26, 2011


In other news: India, Pakistan renew talks to avert nuclear clash
posted by homunculus at 1:43 PM on December 27, 2011


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