Thursday, August 19, 2010

Are We Really Prepared to Prove the Extremists Right? Prove Them Wrong, Double That Aid to Pakistan.

There's another article on Pakistan and US security worries today.

While the administration has kept its public emphasis on the relief effort, senior officials are busy assessing the longer-term strategic impact. One official said the disaster would affect virtually every aspect of the relationship between the United States and Pakistan, and could have ripple effects on the war in Afghanistan and the broader American battle against Al Qaeda.
With Pakistan’s economy suffering a grievous blow, the administration could be forced to redirect parts of its $7.5 billion economic aid package for Pakistan to urgent needs like rebuilding bridges, rather than more ambitious goals like upgrading the rickety electricity grid.

Some security officials sound rather tone deaf:

“It certainly has security implications,” said another official who, like others interviewed for this article, spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss internal policy deliberations. “An army that is consumed by flood relief is not conducting counterinsurgency operations.” 

 Despite realizing the difficulties of the situation we remain sufficiently out of touch that we're bragging about low numbers:

On Thursday, the United Nations will convene a special meeting devoted to the floods, hoping to galvanize what has been a lackluster global response. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is expected to announce that American public aid has surpassed $100 million, an official said.

 How many drone strikes does that buy?

There are some bright spots:

In recent days, the United States has sent 15 helicopters, rescuing nearly 6,000 people. On Wednesday, military cargo planes delivered 60,000 pounds of food and other relief supplies, bringing total deliveries to 717,000 pounds. The speed and scale of the effort, officials in both countries said, have helped bolster the checkered American image in Pakistan. 

But Pakistani officials can still be relied on to state the obvious:

“Americans have not yet registered the enormity of the crisis,” Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States, Husain Haqqani, said in a telephone interview from Islamabad, the capital. 

This problem has about the most obvious solution imaginable, double the aid spending, at least.  Doing this will save a multiple of that in security expenses down the road.  These people need help, without it they'll be desperate and turn where they can, in some cases undoubtedly to militant groups.  Much of the Islamic world has long been condemning us for being so willing to spend money on killing and comparatively so little on saving.  Are we really prepared to prove them right?

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