Walter Russell Mead: Pakistan's Failed National Strategy

Roundup: Historians' Take

[Walter Russell Mead is Henry A. Kissinger senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and author of Special Providence: American Foreign Policy and How It Changed the World. He blogs at]

The unremitting spate of bad news from Pakistan continues; rains are still drenching the highlands and the devastation continues to spread down the river valleys. This year’s harvest has been ruined; increasingly, it seems unlikely that farmers will be able to plant fall crops. While visiting Pakistan earlier this month, I posted on the roots of Pakistan’s rage, doing my best to explain why so many Pakistanis are so angry with the United States. That is one side of the story; but equally mysterious to many people and especially in Pakistan is another side of the equation: why so many American policy makers and opinion leaders are fed up with Pakistan.

Listening to Pakistanis, I hear several theories about why the US (and the west more generally) are suspicious or unsupportive of Pakistan. Many of these have to do with religion: that Americans and their western associates dislike and fear Islam, and therefore dislike and fear Pakistan. Worse, some Pakistanis fear that America’s leaders see themselves engaged in a contest with resurgent Islam, and their policy toward Pakistan represents an attempt to keep the west on top and to suppress Islam as a global force.

That’s not the way most American policy makers and opinion leaders understand the relationship. The American foreign policy elite is not particularly religious or interested in religion by and large; it assesses countries on a more pragmatic basis: how well are they doing, and how do their policies and prospects affect American interests. And the problem is that most of the American foreign policy world thinks that Pakistan is doing a bad job, and that its mistakes, failures and vulnerabilities not only threaten its own interests and well being, but threaten to drag down the whole region as well.

Many of the Pakistanis I’ve met think this is horribly unfair; they argue, for example, that without the US abandonment of Afghanistan after 1989 and its strategically shortsighted policies there since 2001, Pakistan would be much better off. Perhaps, but even Pakistanis who think the United States is entirely to blame for everything wrong in South Asia would do well to understand the relationship as Americans see it. It always helps to understand the other side’s point of view...

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Rupee News - 8/31/2010

Editor Rupee News

Rupee News - 8/31/2010

Professor Walter Russell Mead supported the war in Iraq, and then voted for Obama. His schizophrenia can only be described as Islamphobia. However none of us should be intimidated by the hyperbole which creates a sense of unnecessary depression in the minds of people who have been hit by a series of catastrophes.

We will respond to it in due course in a methodical manner and publish the results in and

Foreign Affairs and The American Interest are Neocon sites. In fact Foreign Affairs is the new name of “Plan for a New American Century“–a rabidly aggressive think tank which has gone out style with the demise of the Bush era policies. The PNAC was the one which set out the US on its suicide missions in Iran and Afghanistan.

In 1996, Neo-conservative leaders Bill Kristol and Robert Kagan described their plans in their mouthpiece”Foreign Affairs” in an article titled “Towards a Neo-Reaganite Foreign Policy,”. For the first time they came right out and said the goal for the U.S. had to be nothing less than “benevolent global hegemony,” a euphemism for total U.S. domination, but “benevolently” exercised, of course.

What Professor Walter Russell Mead is saying is nothing knew. The US and the Democratic Party think of Pakistan as an artificial divide. Pakistanis–as long as they continue to call it “partition” we will continue to play into that nonsensical theories. Ayub Khan answered them with “Friends Not Masters” and Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in his book “Myth of Independence” famously said:

The idea of becoming subservient to India is abhorrent and that of cooperation with India, with the object of promoting tension with China, equally repugnant.” Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto

There is nothing new to this garbage. This started even before to the Cold War ended. Pakistan was being forced by the Soviet Union to join the “Asian Security Pact” which would have reduced Pakistan to the status of Chechniya in the greater scheme of things. On the other hand the US wanted Pakistan and India to join forces against China. There is nothing new to this!

The Council of Foreign Relations is a Pakistanphobic thinktank–its employees need to be taken with a pinch of salt. “Ayub Khan’s letter to a US Admiral, in 1955″ needs to be compared to knee-bended Indian pleas to send them arms in 1962, and Kennedy and Johnson’s responses with respect to Pakistan.

Michael Howard the Chilean Professor of History. His overemphasis on the theoretical basis of war tries to justify “the long war”-just like St. Augustine tried to justify the “good war” of the Holy Roman Empire almost 1,600 years ago.

The term “strategy” needs continual definition. For most people, Clausewitz’s formulation “the use of engagements for the object of the war,” or, as Liddell Hart paraphrased it, “the art of distributing and applying military means to fulfill the ends of policy,” is clear enough. Strategy concerns the deployment and use of armed forces to attain a given political objective.

Histories of strategy, including Liddell Hart’s own Strategy of Indirect Approach, usually consist of case studies, from Alexander the Great to MacArthur, of the way in which this was done. Nevertheless, the experience of the past century has shown this approach to be inadequate to the point of triviality.

In the West the concept of “grand strategy” was introduced to cover those industrial, financial, demographic, and societal aspects of war that have become so salient in the twentieth century; in communist states all strategic thought has to be validated by the holistic doctrines of Marxism-Leninism.
The thesis that “The US will not withdraw from Afghanistan” is flawed. The US has to withdraw from Pakistan. The global financial crisis and the American people demand it.

The Long War’ is not sustainable and the US seeks “a face saving” exit. It has learnt that all roads to Kabul lead from Islamabad. NATO and ISAF have tried the Bharati model and it failed to give them the results that they required. Delhi was unable to hand over Afghanistan to them on a silver platter–hence President Obama is trying the Pakistani proposal presented by General Kiyani.

Editor Rupee News