US policy: Support Israel, secure Pakistan
While an orgy of outrage and condemnation filled the streets and air waves following the flotilla attack, It was not surprising when Israel was not held to the lofty standards that the US demands of its “key” allies such as Pakistan. We have been quick to call the US out on her hypocrisy.
Israel is perhaps the best example of where both US domestic and external interests converge. She is confident in the durability of its relationship with the US as it has the support of the right of centre politicians who will not tolerate any policy that would undermine the interests of the state of Israel. Right wing voters comprise mainly of the larger American states and form a massive constituency, whom no potential candidate for political office can ignore. Supporting Israel wins votes.
By extension, the “Jewish-lobby” insures the continuation of the special Israeli-US relationship as candidates for political office depend in some part on campaign donations from either lobbyists, grass root support of pro-Israel community groups and American firms with interests in Israel. Politicians from States which host the production lines of Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics etc, recognize that their political survival depends on keeping the factories open.
As the first signatory of a FTA with the US, Israel-US bilateral aid has increased nine-folds since 1985. Coupled with billions of dollars aid, the US government and her economy is heavily invested in Israel.
We should not be surprised by the timid public condemnation of the US administration. Any open criticism by the US will embolden right-wing, Republican supporters in a year in which midterm elections are to be held. President Obama does risk alienating his own liberal minded constituents. However, political pragmatism is likely to hold sway in an election year.
There is a valuable lesson, in this mess for Pakistan. We may criticize US policy towards us, cry hypocrisy and condemn US short-termism. However at the end of the day, an American politician canvassing support for election will not find votes for protecting “Pakistani interests”. That is not to say that there are votes in being “anti-Pakistan”. Either way, we as a nation are not relevant to the daily lives of the US voter beyond security concerns.
A first world military alone, in a third world economy, does not guarantee our long term interests. The moment US jobs depend upon the factories that feed a growing Pakistani economy only then will lobbyists, interest groups and local communities take an interest in Pakistan beyond one-dimensional security concerns.
At present, engaging with Pakistan is purely a security concern. The US tax payer is told that their money spent in aid and support to Pakistan is to insure their security. This incentivises covert operations, drone attacks etc, as the US public believes that such actions are necessary to insure their safety.
As China has developed, the US has become less critical of domestic human rights abuses. As India has developed the US has actively engaged with India, hailing her as an equal power. Vietnam, until recently synonymous with US failure, is increasingly viewed as an important destination for US investments and imports.
Pakistan’s interests will be better served if we are perceived by US voters as an essential economic and security partner. American politicians respond to voter interests, at present there are no votes for Pakistan.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.