Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Prescription for Disaster: Zalmay Khalilzad on Pakistan

For a man whom the Bush administration touted as a star diplomat, Zalmay Khalilzad comes across (in his op-ed in today's NY Times) as not much better than a smack-em-down bully when it comes to the US and Pakistan. It's widely known that elements in the Pakistani military - especially the military intel branch known as ISI - have been sponsoring  the activities of some Afghan Taliban groups, and that those groups have found easy shelter in Pakistan.  ZK's solution?  Get tough:
The United States should demand that Pakistan shut down all sanctuaries and military support programs for insurgents or else we will carry out operations against those insurgent havens, with or without Pakistani consent. Arguments that such pressure would cause Pakistan to disintegrate are overstated. Pakistan’s institutions, particularly the country’s security organs, are sufficiently strong to preclude such an outcome.
Overstated? Really? Here's a country
  • reeling in the aftermath of the most catastrophic floods in its history, with millions of poor villagers dislocated, struggling for food and shelter that their government has proved itself woefully unable to provide
  • aflame with anger and suspicion toward the United States, which (in their view) dragged their country into a war more America's than Pakistan's and which is compounding that insult by ramping up drone attacks that kill dozens of Pakistani civilians
  • saddled with a highly corruptible political leadership (led by Mr. Zardari, the infamous "Mr. Ten Percent") that represents the country's feudal elite vastly more than its urban and rural masses
  • trying to overcome a legacy (promoted by the Mr. Bush for whom ZK worked) of dictatorship by the same "security organs" (i.e., the military) upon whom, he says, the US can rely to ensure Pakistan's stability if the US intervenes inside the country.

Meanwhile, says ZK, if Pakistan responds to such US intervention by closing the convoy routes on which the US military in Afghanistan so heavily relies, the US can abandon those routes and make more use of the northern routes as well as air transport.  Does he not realize that, even with the Pakistani routes open, the costs of supplying the US war in Afghanistan are almost prohibitively expensive, and that losing the Pakistan routes would increase that expense almost exponentially?

When does the bill for all of this come due?  On whose shoulders will it fall?  What is the man thinking?

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