Sat in on Richard Holbrooke’s reemergence in Washington last night at CFR. This is what he said.
He said that U.S. aid in the Kerry-Lugar-Berman bill was designed to assist the Pakistanis with “large projects” in sectors like energy, water, education and health care. “My own personal view is we ought to increase the aid to Pakistan,” Holbrooke said, including to the Pakistani military. He praised the military for its “considerable progress this year” against extremists in the Swat Valley and in South Waziristan.
The backstory is that the Obama administration has concluded that making demands of Pakistan, especially in public, is counterproductive. If you want the Pakistanis to go after the Afghan Taliban in Baluchistan and al-Qaeda in north Waziristan, first they need to hear about the depth of the U.S.-Pakistani relationship and what’s in it for them. All diplomacy is cynical and a hustle, and no one here is an innocent. At the same time, part of the task of the administration is to make sure we’re not getting taken for a ride in exchange for a promise that’s not going to be fulfilled. You can look at Swat and now South Waziristan and say that the vectors are pointing in the right direction and it’s unreasonable to expect the Pakistanis, who really have made sacrifices all year, to do everything we want the second we want it. (The Peter Campbell school of international relations?) But we want to pay LeBron after first paying Kobe, as a wise man once put it, and not the other way around.