Sunday, May 10, 2009

No real strategy in Af-Pak

Just saw Presidents Zardari of Pakistan and Karzai of Afghanistan on the late-night repeat of "Meet the Press." I'll give Karzai credit for acting as if he is really an independent president of an independent country and taking the U.S. to task for a "strategy" that too often involves bombings that kill innocent civilians. But the fact is -- and maybe I'll soften when he wins the next election -- he was chosen and installed by the west, and however personally impressive he is (I want a cape like his!), his writ does not run much beyond Kabul, and probably nopt there after dark.

Perhaps he deserved the question David Gregory seemed so obsessed with, whether Afghanistan passed a law that permits husbands to rape their wives (I suspect it's not so simple). When a country becomes completely dependent on another country for security, etc., it can expect citizens of that country to expect it to live up to the subsidizing country's values, indeed to think nothing much of imposing values. He who pays the piper and all.

Andrea Mitchell and Steve Coll, who "analyzed" the appearances, were especially lame. They have no idea what sensible objectives would be, though Steve Coll insists we simply have to be there.

I spent most of yesterday with a friend who is slated to go to work in the press section of the U.S. embassy in Islamabad. He didn't try very hard to persuade me that the U.S. knows what it's doing there. Good thing. Beyond wanting to make sure the Paki nukes are secure, there's little we should do and even less we can realistically accomplish. But despite all our sour experiences, too many Americans continue to think we have to intervene and build nations in our image whenever other countries get into trouble.

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