The impact of Hilary Clinton’s suggestion in the run-up to the New Hampshire caucus that the US and the UK jointly secure our nuclear facilities suggests that a strong Pakistan policy is a key in this US election. Clinton is far too savvy a foreign policy analyst to champion an idea that undermines Pakistani sovereignty and delivers what many consider our most precious commodity into western hands. But talking big about Pakistan these days is sure to ignite some election heat. Say something provocative about “the world’s most dangerous place”, and you’re sure to make headlines. And while I can’t prove the exact correlation between Clinton’s comments and her subsequent victory in the presidential primary, the media coverage she received is bound to have made a difference.
At this early stage, non of the presidential hopefuls have tossed up an acceptable vision for a US-Pakistan collaboration in the war on terror. But nuggets of wisdom do exist amongst the tangle of voices. Parsing through the different stances yields a vast middle ground in which US aid and intervention could help bolster democratic reform and undermine the threat posed by terrorism while respecting national sovereignty.
The four Democratic candidates–Clinton, Barack Obama, Bill Richardson, and John Edwards–are prepared to launch unilateral military strikes if there is “actionable intelligence” of a security threat, or if Osama bin Laden’s location can be verified. Not surprisingly, this stance rankles with many Pakistanis who are horrified at the thought of a US military intervention–or should I say invasion?–against Islamabad’s wishes.
But just as there’s more to Pakistan’s anti-Americanism, there’s more to the trigger-happy suggestions of presidential hopefuls. Obama is willing to continue hundreds of millions of dollars of military aid to Pakistan, but only on the condition that substantial progress is made towards closing down training camps and preventing the Taliban from using Pakistan as a staging area for attacks in Afghanistan. Obama’s belief that Pakistan ‘needs more than F-16s to combat extremism’ is one that should be adopted by our government as well. For his part, Edwards is willing to maintain ties with Musharraf and continue economic and military aid to Pakistan if our government extends the reach of the legitimate government to the tribal areas. While his suggestion goes against historical trends, Edwards is correct to point out that the Pakistani government needs to exert some authority and regain respect amongst FATA residents to earn their collaboration in the fight against militancy.
Republican candidates also have a few choice suggestions. Ron Paul, who opposes aid to Pakistan, rightfully emphasizes that extremist militancy exists because US forces have ‘invaded’ and ‘occupied’ Muslim countries and maintained bases across the Muslim world for a long time prior to 9/11. His insightful comments can certainly help inform US foreign policy in the coming years. Mitt Romney, meanwhile, has explicitly stated that bombing a potential ally is a bad idea. Finally, John McCain has advocated making “a long-term commitment” to Pakistan, acknowledging that the war on terror cannot be won overnight. Although he has discussed the possibility enhancing Pakistan’s security capabilities, he is more excited about getting children out of seminaries and into schools. In the midst of these myriad suggestions lies a sensible Pakistan policy. It’s our own responsibility to guide the next American president and ensure that unilateral US action does not further destabilize our country.
And there you have it.
It is completely clear that the Clinton, Barack Obama, Bill Richardson, and John Edwards are ‘business as usual’ warmongering monsters who want to drag america deeper into the quicksand, everyone understands this except the american electorate.
What is interesting about this piece is that it seems to be written as if under duress; Ron Paul is right, but, “In the midst of these myriad suggestions lies a sensible Pakistan policy”. This cannot be the case either america should be engaged with Pakistan fully or it should withdraw completely. Those are in fact, the only two different choices on the table. I suppose the writer doesn’t want to get in trouble.
For the record, again, the so called ‘extremist’ militancy is not ‘extremist’ at all, these people are really quite ordinary men who simply want to control their own destiny in their own country. If america disentangles itself from them and stops being the puppet master, they will immediately stand down. They are no more insane or extremist than the original american revolutionaries that kicked out the British, or any other freedom fighters that stood and stand firm against invasion and colonization. Ron Paul understands this, and so do a growing number of people in the west who have finally started to wake up to this and see things from their perspective.