Monday, May 09, 2011

Prof. Walter Russell Mead on US-Pakistan relations

This is a must-read.

We are going to have to get tough.  The Pakistani security establishment lives to a very large degree in what, to American eyes, looks like a dangerous and delusional imaginary world.  As I’ve written before, Americans (and virtually everyone else in the world who looks at this question) sees Pakistan locked into a profoundly dysfunctional combination of misguided security ideas and comprehensive domestic failure.  Pakistani strategists embrace these seemingly destructive policies out of some very deeply-held beliefs and in response to what they see as existential questions of national identity and cohesion.  They will not be lightly diverted from this long-established and cherished course, however suicidal, and as is often the case with people whose goals are unrealistic, they are accustomed to very high risk strategies and brinkmanship.  Defeat after defeat by India, progressive deterioration of the domestic security climate and the utter collapse of political morality in what passes for the governing class in Pakistan have not forced a reevaluation.  Charm and appeals to sweet reason by American officials and emissaries won’t do it either.  Neither will humanitarian aid: the suffering of ordinary Pakistanis has little impact on the elite, and in the short to medium term public opinion in Pakistan is so anti-American and so politically marginal that we could die of old age waiting for spending however generous to change our image in Pakistan enough to change the politics of the relationship.