Just got finished reading an excellent essay by Bill Keller (who has transitioned nicely from NY times Executive Editor to a writer again) on the extremely complex US/Pakistani relationship.
I’ve posted a few times about that relationship, and argued many times with Rindy–on the blog, by email, over drinks, we may have even text-argued about it, mainly about the use of drones. I’m pretty unsympathetic when it comes to the Pakistani point of view. There’s no doubt that it stems in part because of a conviction that the Pakistani security forces bear some responsibility for the horrible murder of Daniel Pearl, a killing I felt very closely.
But mainly I just find it exasperating that we are paying billions of dollars in aid to a country that takes our money and helps our enemies, all of which has led directly to loss of American lives.
On the day that the US officially declares its war over in Iraq, we are also moving towards ending our war in Afghanistan. I fully support this–sick of propping Karzai’s bizarre and corrupt government, spending billions that is much needed at home and, most of all, still losing American lives in that barren graveyard of a country.
But this essay did what good journalism can do at times: educate and demonstrate a different point of view. There is much to be gleaned from Keller’s piece about the Pakistani point of view, some of which was new to me (the details on how effective the Pakistani military has been in Swat and the loss of life it suffers when it battles the Haqqani clan, for instance) and some of which wasn’t (its all-consuming obsession with India and how that drives its policy).
It may have gotten me thinking a bit more broadly about Pakistan and how it views its relationship with the US, but I still support what former CIA official Bruce Riedel wrote in this op-ed about the US pursuing more of a “containment” policy when dealing with Pakistan. And I definitely support both opening the textile trade in the US while drawing down on the amount of direct financial aid we are giving to essentially a military run country that enables the people that kill US soldiers and undermines our policy.