"This morning, I spoke by telephone with Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar. I once again reiterated our deepest regrets for the tragic incident in Salala last November. I offered our sincere condolences to the families of the Pakistani soldiers who lost their lives. Foreign Minister Khar and I acknowledged the mistakes that resulted in the loss of Pakistani military lives. We are sorry for the losses suffered by the Pakistani military. We are committed to working closely with Pakistan and Afghanistan to prevent this from ever happening again. As I told the former Prime Minister of Pakistan days after the Salala incident, America respects Pakistan’s sovereignty and is committed to working together in pursuit of shared objectives on the basis of mutual interests and mutual respect.”
Secretary of State Clinton Statement – July 3, 2012.
Thanks to this apology, and along with a promise of extra money, the Obama Administration, and Secretary of State Clinton, was able to repair our “strained relations” with Pakistan. As a result of this, it has been announced that Pakistan was reopening its supply lines into Afghanistan, which had been closed to the U.S. after the November killing of 24 Pakistani troops in a NATO airstrike. This is admittedly cost effective, as the closure of the “GLOC” (Ground Line Of Communications), although it did not stop NATO operations in Afghanistan, was still costing an extra $100 million a month to ferry goods from Central Asia. But was it a good idea overall? What sort of precedent does it set?
Keep in mind that the attack which precipitated the airstrike in question was initiated by Pakistan. The U.S. military completed its investigation of the incident, which described how Pakistan not only did not inform the U.S. of the position of the Pakistani soldiers, but also confirmed that these Pakistani border guards fired on U.S. and Afghan soldiers first. Afghani officials have agreed with the U.S. description of the incident. In fact, the incident may well have been deliberately initiated by Pakistan. After all, “(g)iven that Taliban, Haqqani and al Qaeda forces have no helicopters, the Pakistanis cannot claim to be doing this by mistake.” And Pakistan has a long history of firing first on U.S. and NATO troops, and the number of such incidents seems to be increasing.
So why are we giving Pakistan an apology and the promise of more money?
I have already written two separate columns on our erstwhile “allies,” the Pakistanis. I have written about their duplicity and unfaithfulness to the United States here. I have also tackled their “blasphemous” human rights record here. I apologize for repeating myself, but apparently, what I have to say needs repeating. We should not be supporting Pakistan financially, let alone apologizing to them, in any way, shape, or form. Consider just these three important facts:
- At least some elements of the Pakistani government knowingly sheltered Osama Bin Laden – who murdered 3000 Americans on 9/11/01 – for more than a few years.
- The Pakistani government has thrown in jail the Pakistani doctor who UNWITTINGLY helped the U.S. find Bin Laden. And Pakistani public opinion approves of this, as they consider the doctor to be a traitor.
- The Pakistani government sponsors terrorist groups which regularly kill American soldiers.
Looking at these simple facts makes it readily apparent that Pakistan, of course, is really an enemy of ours, not an ally. This makes the Pakistan apology yet another example of the Obama Administration’s noted foreign policy of “rewarding enemies and punishing friends.” And because Pakistan is really an enemy, the Obama administration strongly believes in utilizing a “carrots and sticks” approach to it, as long as “sticks” are limited to only general ambiguous threats followed by no concrete steps. This policy is, as Barry Rubin notes, “wrong, dangerous, and likely to lead to defeats for the United States, the weakening of its allies, the strengthening of its enemies, and the spawning of future crises.”
But we shouldn’t need a well-known foreign policy expert to tell us that. The policy of rewarding enemies and punishing friends should make no sense to anyone with a modicum of common sense. It is a strategy which positively reinforces bad behavior, and negatively reinforces good behavior. For this reason, in the world of foreign affairs, Pakistan is learning that they are better off treating the U.S. as poorly as possible, so that they can gain more material rewards from us. And so, they aid our al-Qaeda enemies, fire on our troops, grab our contractors for ransom, etc. In return they receive billions a year in U.S. foreign aid, and, when appropriate, plenty of apologies and praise.
Perhaps a more useful strategy might have been for us to finally start punishing our enemies for their insults and injuries towards the U.S.
In Pakistan, the most obvious thing we could do would be to completely stop funding them, which I have previously advocated, to cut some funding to them, or to condition our future funding on certain positive actions. There are other possible punishments as well. Luckily, the U.S. House is prepared to lead the way, with its vote for an amendment sponsored by Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX) to cut U.S. aid to Pakistan by $650 billion, about half of its entire U.S. aid package. And the Senate may follow that lead, with Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) claiming he has enough votes in the Senate to end all aid to Pakistan.
The Congress seems intent on providing President Obama with a “stick” with which to address the continuing problem of Pakistan. He should make use of it, and end his current, flawed and dangerous approach. And best yet, for his purposes, he could even continue to call Pakistan our ally.
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Adam Turner serves as staff counsel to the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET). He is a former counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee where he focused on national security law.