Our friend Kapil Komireddi has a devastating essay in Foreign Policy on the Obama administration’s acquiescence in Pakistan’s continuing slide back to military rule.
Kapil opens with this question:
Pakistan is indignant about the killing of 25 of its troops in a NATO air raid on Saturday. The circumstances that led to the assault are still unknown, but Washington and Europe have expressed contrition and promised an investigation. Pakistan has every reason to feel angry. But after a suitable period of mourning, shouldn’t the United States, in the interests of fairness if nothing else, ask the Pakistani army if it plans ever to apologize for — or, at bare minimum, acknowledge – its role in the deaths of hundreds of coalition forces and many more Afghan civilians?
Kapil then notes the Obama administration’s bizarre reaction to the dismissal of Pakistani ambassador Husain Haqqani, one of the few genuine democrats and liberals in the Pakistani governing elite:
[Haqqani's] forced resignation puts an end to the pretence of civilian rule in Pakistan — and heralds the unapologetically solemn re-takeover of the country by the military-intelligence camorra that spawned the forces of destruction in Afghanistan. So it is astounding that, rather than treating Haqqani’s departure as a setback, officials in the Obama administration see it as something of a boon. Haqqani’s private criticisms of the Pakistani army led, according to a report in the New York Times, “to a diminishing of his influence in Washington, especially in the White House.”
Why would the White House choose to belittle a man championing civilian rule in Pakistan? Isn’t that also the objective of the Obama administration? The answer increasingly appears to be no.
Kapil traces the yielding US attitude directly to the president’s own inner weakness.
Obama had an almost providential opportunity to squeeze the army in the immediate aftermath of bin Laden’s discovery in May in the garrison city of Abbottabad. The khakis were at their weakest in four decades. That was the time to bolster civilian rule, to corral the army with fresh ultimatums. Instead, Obama seemed more anxious about pacifying Pakistan for having breached its sovereignty than holding its army to account for harboring bin Laden — which explains the White House’s rush to finesse Amb. Mike Mullen’s candid testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee in September.
Then, in a craven abdication of American responsibility to the citizens of Afghanistan, Obama talked about the need for nation-building at home. For a man who attained the presidency by invoking Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi, Obama has rarely displayed any compunction in retreating from battle with men who, given the opportunity, would have lynched King and Gandhi — indeed men who have presided over the slaughter and torture of too many potential Kings and Gandhis of our age. Could there be a more forceful testament to the failure of Obama’s foreign policy in South Asia than the sight of terrorist leader Sirajuddin Haqqani operating with impunity in Pakistan six months after bin Laden’s killing?
Washington grovels before Islamabad even as American soldiers die at the hands of Pakistan’s clients.
Read it all!