Thursday, May 6, 2010

Terrorism-- Pakistan and the GOP connection

In light of the attempted bombing of Times Square, a few politically incorrect observations must be made. First, of course, is Mayor Bloomberg's defense of Pakistan's primary export to the rest of the world: terrorism and terrorists. A news report:
Mayor Michael Bloomberg says New York City "will not tolerate any bias" following the arrest of a U.S. citizen from Pakistan in the Times Square car bombing attempt... The mayor said there are "a few bad apples" among any groups.
The implication is that we are to, under the pretext of civility, ignore that the state of Pakistan harbors, trains, and sponsors terrorists. The point isn't that all Pakistanis are terrorists, but that a clear trend indicates that most terrorists have Pakistani connections, that the Pakistani government is either incompetent in controlling its industry of violence or that it refuses to do so. Most terrorists that have fled Afghanistan have found refuge in Pakistan. The Taliban have resurfaced in Pakistan to plan more strikes. And Pakistan regularly exports these, often state-sponsored, terrorists to India. Most recently we saw the brutal killings in Mumbai followed by the lack of action on the part of the Pakistani government to investigate into the terrorist networks despite ample evidence provided by India.

The second observation is that Republican seem eager to provide military aid to Pakistan. In India After Gandhi: The History of the World's Largest Democracy, Guha writes about Eisenhower's Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles, who readily supplied military aid to Pakistan:
Dulles was the coldest of cold warriors, whose foreign policy was dominated by his obsession with communism. In the battle against the Soviet Union Dulles was prepared to disregard the internal political systems of other nations. Dictators who toed the American line were to be preferred to democrats who didn't: "if he is a bastard, at least he is our bastard," Dulles is famously supposed to have said.
The then Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru wrote to G.D. Birla about "the American military aid to Pakistan, which is a constant and growing threat to us and, in effect, adds to our burdens much more than the actual aid they give to us." Notwithstanding this sentiment, which Birla conveyed to Dulles on his trip to America, Dulles chose to visit India and hold a press-conference. But he could not stand being questioned about his aid-to-Pakistan policy:
Then the talk turned to military aid to Pakistan, and the possibility that it might lead to an escalation of the conflict in Kashmir... Dulles angrily remarked that "we do not feel that because there is a dispute over Kashimr... Pakistan should be unarmed so that it could not resist Soviet Communist aggression." The secretary of state then threatened to walk out if any more questions were asked on Goa or Kashmir.
There is more evidence of the claim that Republicans obsessively think of aid to Pakistan as a short-cut to solving all of American's foreign policy problems. Consider the chart below from the testimony of Lawrence Korb in a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing that shows that each time a Republican President is elected, money starts rolling in for military aid in Pakistan. Observe the beginning of the trend in 1953 and the increase towards the end of Eisenhower's term in 61, the spike under Reagan (81-90), and, of course, Bush 43. This, despite the admission of the administration itself admits that it has very little knowledge of how the aid given to Pakistan is actually used. One wonders: is American sponsoring the terrorists that it is trying to eradicate?
It is best that American policy-makers be careful about what short-cuts are being used to cope with terrorism. In the last elections, the Republicans presented Sarah Palin as an expert enough on foreign policy to be Vice-President (and President, given McCain's age). She described these credentials in a manner that was embarrassing: it involved Putin rearing his ugly head over American air-space and Sarah Palin standing guard from Alaska, where on clear days she could keep a watch on him with her naked eye. Republicans would do well to educate themselves on facts rather than ideology and chose officials that stop creating terrorism that needs to be cleaned out. And all Americans best come to terms with the reality that they have created a terrorism exporting apparatus in Pakistan, and that avoiding discourse on it under the pretext of civility will do them no good.