Once More, Do More
By Mowahid Hussain Shah
When Susan Rice was in Islamabad, it was yesterday once more with the same old “do more” song. It boils down to withholding $300 million of US aid to Pakistan military if the US deems it is insufficiently vigorous in halting designated militants from launching attacks from Pakistan into Afghan territory.
Susan Rice’s posture is a repetition of tired tunes of yore. First, it was Condi Rice – under sway of the pro-India lobby – who wanted to “de-hyphenate” America’s approach in the subcontinent. The legally dubious Indo-US nuclear deal was transacted under her watch.
And, then, it was Hillary, in an interview with ABC News Good Morning America, who on April 22, 2008 – with one eye to assuage the pro-Israel lobby – used the inflammatory term “to totally obliterate” Iran. Earlier, another Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, in an interview with Leslie Stahl of CBS-News 60 Minutes on May 12, 1996, said that maintaining US sanctions on Iraq was worth the loss of 500,000 Iraqi babies.
Lesley Stahl: “ We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?
Madeleine Albright: I think this is a very hard choice, but the price – we think the price is worth it.”
America has not been well-served on the foreign policy front. This is a far cry from the tenure of the distinguished Secretary of State, Cyrus Vance, who openly dissented on the Carter Administration’s attempt to militarily rescue American hostages in Iran in 1980, and resigned when he was overruled.
Susan Rice has already fumbled on Libya. She showed her inexperience when she rushed to put a spin on the Benghazi burning of the US embassy on September 11, 2012, in which the US ambassador died, while Hillary deftly kept herself out of harm’s way and the public eye. Its aftermath sank Susan’s chances of succeeding Hillary as Secretary of State.
There was a good reason why for decades the US navigated a careful balance between India and Pakistan. Tilting now toward Modi – whose visa was revoked by the State Department in 2005 for his complicity in the Gujarat massacres in 2002 and who remained banned for nearly 10 years – shows how the US erodes its leverage on Pakistan, which is now pushing back.
Pope Francis, who is shortly due to visit the United States, has identified “inequality as a root of social evil.” It is a message with larger applicability. The US posture with respect to India and Pakistan is now uneven. It is someone’s idea of a brilliant policy in continuing to berate the Pakistan military while beseeching it to help bail out and extricate the US from the Afghan quagmire of its own making.
Transactional relations have a short expiry date. Green card marriages may bring immediate benefits but they seldom work out in the long run. The “user” approach may hold some sway in Washington but who in Islamabad would like to be continuously used? It is seldom wise to drop the moral element.
Besides, they are not all duds there.