And they’ll pay for it
“The aid—and particularly its pledge of five years of uninterrupted help—is intended,” the New York Times writes in today’s editorial, “to demonstrate that this time Washington is in for the long haul. Many Pakistanis still accuse the Americans of using and then abandoning them after the Soviet defeat in Afghanistan. We fear that any more delay on the promised assistance would only reinforce that suspicion and bitterness.”
Astounding naivete from the NYT, because Washington has already delivered seven years of uninterrupted help amounting to US$15.449 billion in direct overt assistance (according to Alan Kronstadt/CRS) and yet, almost 6 in 10 Pakistanis feels that the United States is the greatest threat to their country (according to Al Jazeera/Gallup).
Unwarranted as their fear is, it leads the NYT’s editors to throw diligence through the winds. Arguing against attaching strings to the aid package in a hopeless attempt to be loved it warns against “bullying language on Pakistan’s nuclear program that would inevitably increase tensions with Islamabad and alienate the Pakistani public.” But isn’t nuclear proliferation something that it should care about? “We, too, are very concerned about Pakistan’s history of nuclear proliferation” it says, “But this aid bill is clearly not the vehicle.” Then pray, what is?
The editorial is silent about the real issues: how does the United States ensure that Pakistan delivers on its many promises on fighting al-Qaeda, fighting the Taliban, fighting the Lashkar-e-Taiba, preventing nuclear proliferation? How does the US government ensure that the money is spent on reforming education, healthcare and economic development?
This kind of loose thinking is perhaps symptomatic of the general mood in the United States these days: just throw more taxpayers’ money at the problem and hope it’ll go away.