Jackie Northam emerged from Think Tank World to catch us up on how critical "relations with Pakistan's military are...to US national security." Her story simply endorses and builds on the US government's long policy of focusing on maintaining (and engorging) the Pakistani military at the expense of Pakistani civil society.
Ahmed Rashid in an interview in Harper's Magazine offers a stinging assessment of this kind of approach:
"The U.S. has relied upon the Pakistan army in the Cold War in the 1950s and 1960, in the Afghan war against the Soviet Union in the 1980s and so for it to depend again on the army in the war on terrorism is not unusual. The problem is that this is not an external war but an internal war or even a civil war in parts of NWFP [Northwest Frontier of Pakistan]. Here what is needed is a government and local authorities which have the confidence of the people so that they can fight the extremists but also deal with public problems and deliver services. None of this the army is capable of doing and the Americans have utterly failed to realize this."NPR's Jackie Northam likewise has "utterly failed to realize this," too. But, God forbid history or critical thinking get in the way. NPR can always go dipping into the pro-US government think tanks for backup help. Northam turns to
- Fredrick Barton with the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). The CSIS states that it was founded for "finding ways for America to sustain its prominence and prosperity as a force for good in the world."
- Kurt Campbell (notice his bio is from his days at the CSIS )the CEO of the Center for a New American Security.
- Professor Anatol Levin with the Department of War Studies at Kings College, London. He has connections to IISS, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and the New America Foundation.
I guess you can't expect much from a story that begins with Steve Inskeep saying, "Here's a question for you: What does Pakistan's military have in common with the game of cricket?
Well, they both have intricate traditions and rules, they're both difficult for outsiders to follow, and according to some observers, the army and the popular sport may be the only two things still holding Pakistan together."
Northam closes her report by noting that the US has stepped up its "counterterrorism" role in Pakistan and states that "there have been several air strikes recently on suspected al-Qaeda hideouts - reportedly from American drones."
Inskeep opening, Northam closing: I'd definitely say American drones.