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THE US-PAKISTAN RELATIONSHIP June 16, 2011

Posted by wmmbb in South Asia, US Politics.
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Juan Cole seems to have got the critical points on this relationship right it seems to me. Relationships do not work without insight and respect.

He observes:

. . .the US covert activities in Pakistan have become public and are unpopular among the public, just as the US would not react positively to being spied on, bombed and having rogue operations go bad on city streets– all by even a close ally. Pakistan’s democracy is fragile, but it does have parliamentary elections and parties can win or lose on public opinion, and the ruling Pakistan People’s Party has suffered in the public eye by its complaisance toward US interference in the country. Moreover, the powerful military establishment in Islamabad is furious at US high-handedness. The British ruled what is now Pakistan from the 1840s until 1947, and Pakistan was supposed to be about South Asian Muslim independence and self-reliance, so that having a super-power’s deputy commissioners reinserted into the country is most unwelcome to a lot of Pakistanis.

The United States needs to put things like drone attacks in the hands of the Department of Defense rather than in those of the CIA, so that they are not covert operations but rather elements of war-fighting. The US needs a Status of Forces Agreement with the Pakistani government laying out the terms of legitimate US actions in that country. And the Obama administration needs to come to Congress for authorization to bomb Pakistan (just as it should have gone to Congress with regard to Libya).

US bad relations with Pakistan at the moment derive from using the CIA in paramilitary ways in a no-man’s land of covert action that lacks any framework of international or bilateral law. If Washington goes on like this, it will push Pakistan altogether into the arms of the Chinese and it will set up a negative situation for its likely withdrawal from Afghanistan, in which Islamabad has powerful perceived interests that the US has not respected.

What happens if the American relationship with nuclear-armed, and China backed, Pakistan spins out of control?

This lack of skill and understanding that Obama has simply kept the modus operandi of the previous Administration in place, evidence of the president’s lack of experience in these areas and his habit of keeping with the proponents of the status quo – as in economics policy. It does seem to be an effective president some prior relevant experience, such as a stint as Secretary of the Navy, is a condition for a successful tenure. Rhetorical skill and intelligence are necessary, but they are not sufficient.The marvel is that people even without the minimum capabilities seek the office without any sense of humility.

ELSEWHERE: The fundamental issue is leadership in a democratic society.

As Glenn Greenwald points out the the use of cluster bombing and drone-based missile attacks in Yemen is evidence of the doctrine of presidential discretion that places consent of one man above the US Constitution or any practical concept of the rule of law that may pertain in Global Society. Immunity does not require consideration of the long term consequences, or that others who equally believe they should and can then act in a similar way, if not now, then in the future.

Perhaps the suggestion here are too generous as to the intent of decisions, as in the instances of the denial of human, civil and political rights, best illustrated by the incarceration (and torture) of Bradley Manning. As Wikileaks observes “the red scare” precedent is simply evidence of an organizational police state mentality that has a momentum of its own, albeit invidious to a democratic society. Presidential decisions and determinations have not inhibited the behavior, rather they have abetted it, whether intentional or otherwise. The best light would for this to be seen as executive office and presidential incompetence.

At Consortium News, Marvin A Goodwin argues that paying the Pakistan Military for favours has not worked for American purposes but has worked against them.

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