Saturday, February 01, 2014

Haqqani's Magnificent Delusions

An excerpt from ex-Pakistani-Ambassador-to-the-US  Hussain Haqqani's "Pakistan, the United States and an Epic History of Misunderstanding : Magnificent Delusions" (page 277):
The Americans were unaware of {head of the ISI, General Hamid} Gul's ideological predilections and fantasies.   A Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) profile described Gul as "a powerful mediator" who had organized "the unruly Afghan Alliance Leaders into a viable institution".   He was characterized as "a sincere and caring individual who is attempting to do what is best for the Afghan Alliance as well as for Pakistan".  In what turned out to be a massive miscalculation, the DIA believed that Gul was "a strong supporter of Pakistan's ties to the US; is generally friendly towards the U.S and the West and very comfortable with foreigners."  The US intelligence community thought that Gul did not "have any particular political contacts of any significance within Pakistan".  They were wrong on all counts.
Haqqani's book is masterful narration of some 65 years of such "wrong on all counts" by the Americans who set policy.   There were people with a clearer vision, but they were mostly ignored.   The long span - six+ decades -  of the continuous mistaken judgements show that this is no ordinary human error, it is the error of a people who have a strong commitment to thinking in a particular way - a certain inter-generational pig-headed arrogance.  It would almost be funny, but for the cost in lives, including 9/11, as a consequence of such errors.  Scarily, this pig-headedness is still widely prevalent, but Americans take great umbrage at any suggestion about the possibility of thinking differently.  So it is a safe prediction that Haqqani's book is going to have little practical effect.

Pakistanis too, were deluded, thinking that they would get more support for their misadventures than the US was actually prepared to give.  The Pakistani side of the Magnificent Delusion is essentially that of the con-man believing too much his own spiel.   Nevertheless, Pakistan achieved its own survival, always kept afloat by its 3.5 friends.

(BRF dictionary:  Three and a Half Friends
These are countries who have, for various reasons, been the main contributors to propping up Pakistan through its entire history. The three friends refer to the United States of America, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and China. The half-friend refers to Japan because they usually do contribute aid money into the bottomless Pakistani drain, but only with US prompting. )

PS: the Pakistani side of the Delusion is described here.