Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Clinton: It's OK If Pakistan Lets Anti-American Terror Attacks Be Planned There As Long as NY Street Vendors Stop Them

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By Barry Rubin

After ascertaining that the Times Square bomber had connections with the Pakistani Taliban, secretary of State Hillary Clinton was asked about her view of Pakistan's cooperation. She responded:

"This is a threat that we share. We have a common enemy. There is no time to waste going after that common enemy." She would not criticize Pakistan and in fact said, “I have to stand up for the effort that the Pakistani government is taking....We’ve gotten more cooperation and it’s been a real sea change" in their efforts.

But the tip-offs are the phrases about how effective the Pakistani government is being against terrorists "in their own country" and about a "threat that we share." In other words, as I've previously pointed out, the Pakistani government fights against terrorists that want to overthrow it (Pakistani Taliban) but not against those who merely want to kill Indians (several Pakistani-backed groups) or Americans (al-Qaida, Afghan Taliban).

Let me underline this point. The Pakistani government may act regarding threats that "we share," but does not regard al-Qaida and the Afghan Taliban--in contrast to the Pakistani Taliban--as threats to itself.

It is hardly surprising that Pakistan would struggle against those who want to bring down its own government, line up its leaders against the wall, and shoot them. But how much help is U.S. aid buying against those who aren't targeting Pakistan or are even cooperating with the regime there? Not much.

Then Clinton made one of the type of "tough" statements with huge loopholes she is fond of uttering:

“If an attack like this which we can trace back to Pakistan had been successful there would be very severe consequences.”

So since the attack failed, the U.S. government apparently sees no need to change its policy toward Pakistan.

I don't want to be unfair. Presumably there is a lot of chatter going on behind the scenes. Yet the massive flows of money from the United States to Pakistan simply hasn't brought results in terms of an all-out effort to wipe out al-Qaida and Afghan Taliban forces along the border or even to round up the top leadership of al-Qaida.

Of course it isn't easy to get Usama bin Ladin but when the history of this issue is written Pakistan's permissiveness and even aid to these terrorists will be clear. The story has already begun to come out, as when a reporter saw first-hand the warm cooperation between the terrorists and the Pakistan authorities.

But then Clinton apparently forgot her annoyance at Pakistan before the Times Square attack. As the Pakistani government does a worse job the criticism disappears. It should be the other way around. Moreover, all these American efforts (and spending) has had no effect within Pakistan, where people view the United States and India--not al-Qaida and the Taliban--as the enemy.

What should U.S. policy be? Simple, the basic type of policy that should be used everwhere. American aid and support has to be conditioned on real effort and real results. If these things don't happen, there should be criticism, pressure, and reduced support. There seems no hint of this in U.S.-Pakistan relations and the implication is that Pakistan is doing the U.S. government a favor by not collapsing and taking American money.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). His new edited books include Lebanon: Liberation, Conflict and Crisis; Guide to Islamist Movements; Conflict and Insurgency in the Middle East; The West and the Middle East (four volumes); and The Muslim Brotherhood. To read and subscribe to MERIA, GLORIA articles, or to order books. To see or subscribe to his blog, Rubin Reports.

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