It would be nice if our politicians paid attention to the strategies of other nations.

More than nice, actually. Call it due diligence.

Ali K. Chishti: ISI is widely misunderstood. It’s not rogue.

In fact, it’s a fit unit who has learned the art of maneuvering. It’s obviously run by its separate directorates but acts on the policy guidelines of the Pakistan Military Chief. If you need to understand the working of ISI, I will give you one example — a section of the ISI is deputed to protect Mullah Omar and another is working with the US to catch him.

That is ISI for you.

Pakistan, since its inception, has been a security state governed by fear of India. The 1971 partition of its Eastern bloc — Bangladesh — forever tarnished the ideology of Pakistan. Because of this, the Pakistani security establishment (military) started creating various proxies from Kashmir to Afghanistan to Nepal and, of course, they made the atomic bomb to forever protect national integrity at the cost of food, education and basic facilities.

The whole security establishment of Pakistan is India-specific. And with the increasing influence of China on Pakistan and on its military, the Pakistanis have started relying on China more than the U.S.

U.S. and Pakistan’s strategic, economic and military interests cannot be one in this region. It’s not the “coalition of the willing.” It’s a forced marriage bound to break anytime. Pakistan would never want stability in Afghanistan.

A former ISI chief told me, “Son, we need to keep Yank interests alive to get dollars rolling in.” And that has, unfortunately, been the psyche of Pakistanis.

– from an interview at Carl Prine’s Line of Departure blog. I got carried away in the comments section over there. Oops.

I’ve covered this particular example of “rent-seeking” as national strategy (or part of a national strategy) before at ChicagoBoyz:

“America needs Pakistan more than Pakistan needs America,” was Jinnah’s reply. “Pakistan is the pivot of the world, as we are placed” — he revolved his long forefinger in bony circles — “the frontier on which the future position of the world revolves.”

He leaned toward me, dropping his voice to a confidential note. “Russia,” confided Mr. Jinnah, “is not so very far away.”

Want another one? This one is a doozy:

The clearest evidence of the Iran link came in January 1990, when Pakistan’s army chief of staff conveyed his threat to arm Iran to a top Pentagon official. Henry S. Rowen, at the time an assistant defense secretary, said Pakistani Gen. Mirza Aslam Beg issued the warning in a face-to-face meeting in Pakistan. “Beg said something like, ‘If we don’t get adequate support from the U.S., then we may be forced to share nuclear technology with Iran,'” said Rowen, now a professor at Stanford University. Rowen said former President Bush’s administration did little to follow up on Beg’s warning. “In hindsight, maybe before or after that they did make some transfers,” Rowen said. Rowen said he told Beg that Pakistan would be “in deep trouble” if it gave nuclear weapons to Iran. Rowen said he was surprised by the threat because at the time Americans thought Pakistan’s secular government dominated by Sunni Muslims wouldn’t aid Iran’s Shiite Muslim theocracy. “There was no particular reason to think it was a bluff, but on the other hand, we didn’t know,” Rowen said.

Emphasis mine. But you know what? I’m sick of this topic. The foreign policy establishment in Washington – right and left, both – is a little bit in love with its supposed awesomeness. As a group, they are incapable of sense. And all that aid money we gave Pakistan after 2001? The generals went and made more nukes with it. Brilliant, Republican and Democratic foreign policy mandarins of the DC establishment. You guys are stone cold geniuses.

2 thoughts on “It would be nice if our politicians paid attention to the strategies of other nations.”

  1. When India was allying itself with the USSR, it made some sense to support Pakistan as a counterweight. Several Pakistan leaders have been relatively friendly and helpful, Mushareff being one and Yahya Khan being another. Now that India is adopting free market reforms and the USSR is no more, it makes no sense to be supporting Pakistan. Afghanistan, in my opinion, is a rat hole with no end in sight. We punished the Taliban for giving sanctuary to al Qeada. We can do that again if they get involved with our enemies. Pakistan is a liability.

    I don’t think the Obama people are smart enough to extricate the military which will require some adeptness while the supply line is subject to Pakistani interference.

  2. MK: I’m rushed right now but will say one quick thing: I agree about the support during the Cold War. My series of posts are really directed at much of what I read at think tank blogs and the like. I am trying to understand why how the idea of large amounts of aid is viewed as stabilizing (I read this at Heritage, Brookings, you name it….) in that part of the world when it has almost always been destabilizing and corrupted. You read comments by old CIA station chiefs, or military officers from back in the day, and they have the biggest case of clientitis regarding Islamabad and “the old days.” It’s the oddest phenomenon that I have ever encountered. I am fascinated. Utterly fascinated.

    – Madhu

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