Let’s face it, dealing with Pakistan is like child rearing. All the more dangerous when its done by academics finding themselves facing the unrelenting realism of militant fanatics.
How else are we to see this wavering ally?
Pakistan suffers from an abandonment complex rooted in history. The U.S. Congress performed miserably in Indochina with the Bolen amendments that sought authority outside the enumerated powers clause of the Constitution. We caught a glimpse of such tragedy when Reagan found himself in the middle of a shoving match between Ed Meese and Dr. Jeane Kirkpatrick. Both advisors knowing the domestic implications of possible impeachment if Reagan began to restore the qualified unitary power of the Presidency in dealing with both Iran and Cuba in Central America. We were lucky to have John Yoo and Bush at the helm when Congress began to usurp Presidential power throughout our engagement in Iraq. Given the need for strong executive leadership in the AfPak theatre, we are worse off from the political impact of Congressional adventurism.
The Pressler Amendment cut the U.S. ties to Pakistan in the 1990’s. We are paying for that today as did Reagan in 1987 with Iran Contra.
The domestic abandonment complex that dominates the Pakistani psyche is compounded by national paranoia that is the by product of conspiracy theory, misplaced indignation and xenophobic jingoism.
The countries elites are divided between secularists that harbor feudal aristocratic mores and corrupt Presidents that fuel radical Islamism. Standing astride this divide is the military which profits from cultivating political and social agendas to perpetuate itself as bulwark against any enemy, foreign or domestic. This institution is the most competent simply because its the least accountable institution in the region.
The overarching logic that dominates the thinking of Pakistan is the existential drive to preserve its options.
Uncertainty over American fortitude in our engagement throughout the AfPak region helps explain why Pakistan will not forsake the Taliban. The missing ingredient in Pakistan’s counterinsurgency effort is not technical tactical superiority. ITS THE WILL OF THE PAKISTANI GENERAL STAFF TO COOPERATE MORE FULLY WITH THE U.S. IN THE LONG WAR AGAINST ISLAMIC MILITANTS.
Simply put, the problem here is intellectual.
Pakistan maintains a good grip on fueling the popular mania that Indian hegemony is dangerous. This has nothing to do with reality. It has to do with maintaining a grip on an ideologically passionate population. Let me explain what is patiently obvious. Pakistani fears of an Indian hegemony stem from an intrinsic Pakistani weakness. India has less to fear from a well armed, confident Pakistani army that has strong ties to the U.S. than it does from a poorly armed Pakistan that mistrusts the U.S. and continues to consort with militant Islamists for compensatory reasons.
Team Obama’s need to placate his left Marxian base in announcing an August 2011 withdraw was bound to effect Islamabad’s domestic calculations.
How else to put it: we must get our own political domestic house in order if we wish to excoriate Pakistan.