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Sunday, September 05, 2004

The Flash Backs Continue -- Afghanistan and Pakistan

We're back with more hits, this time a couple of 'graphs from Case 365a, published by the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, on U.S.-Pakistani relations immediately following the Cold War. This paragraph comes from the background information. To wit, Afghanistan, Pakistan and the 80s:

'As part of its worldwide effort to put pressure on the Soviet Union, the new Republican administration in Washington began a program of covert assistance to the mujahedin under the Reagan Doctrine. American aid to these anti-Soviet "freedom fighters" grew steadily in size and visibility until it reached almost $300 million a year by the mid-1980s. The aid was distributed to the insurgents by the Pakistan military's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). The ISI favored Islamic insurgent groups who were as opposed to the West as they were to Moscow and who had links with terrorist organizations in the Muslim Middle East. At first the program was designed mainly to keep the resistance in business and contain further Soviet advances, but in 1984, hawks in Congress allocated $75-80 million to Pakistan for the express purpose of forcing a Soviet withdrawl. Then in 1986, Congress again escalated U.S. involvement by persuading the administration to provide shoulder-fired Sttinger antiaircraft missiles to the mujahedin, effectively neutralizing the helicopter gunships that were at the heart of the Soviet counterinsurgency strategy. This American aid was among the factors that by 1986 had brought Mikhail Gorbachev to refer to Afghanistan as a "bleeding wound" and to agree in 1988 to a staged withdrawl from the war.'

Not only did the U.S. funnel money to the mujahedin through Pakistan (we remind our readers of certain now-famous terrorists with ties to the mujahedin. That decision to give them shoulder-launched missiles doesn't look quite so good in retrospect), but it fought year after year to certify Pakistan as free from nuclear weapons, even though it was not:

'...In the summer of 1987, for example, a Canadian national of Pakistani origin, Arshad V. Pervez, was arrested in Philadelphia while attempting to bribe U.S. customs agents in an apparent violation of the Solarz ammendment. Pervez worked for a firm in Lahore headed by a Pakistani general and was seeking a license for the export of high-strength maraging steel, a material essential to one method of producing fissile material. Inconveniently, his arrest came just as Congress was considering the Reagan Administration's request for a six-year, follow-on program of $4.02 billion in aid to Pakistan and a renewal of the Symington-Glenn wavier needed to make this renewal possible. In the uproar caused by the arrest, Congress not only failed to pass the new waiver before the earlier one expired but also suspended American aid for six weeks while the Reagan Administration tried to get further assurances from Pakistan.'

'While aid languished, arguments flew back and forth. State Department spokeswoman Phyllis Oakley said that the cutoff "sends the wrong signal about the continuing U.S. commitment to Pakistan's security." Senator Glenn [sponsor of a nuclear nonproliferation bill], worriedabout the effect that ignoring Pakistan's violations could have on the credibility of other U.S. nonproliferation efforts, argued that "if the price for sustaining this partnership is to encourage the spread of nuclear weapons worldwide, then the price is too high." Representative Edward J. Markey (D-MA) thought that Pakistan would follow its national interests on Afghanistan regardless of what the United States did: "We are paying a high price, both in dollars and in non-proliferation policy, to reward Pakistan for what it would do anyway." The Reagan Administration had contended for years that offering military assistance and a strong defense commitment would provide Islamabad a sense of security that was perhaps the best and perhaps the only way to convince Pakistan to forego a nuclear option... Representative Solarz summed it all up as a classic struggle between competing objectives of "whether we attach more importance to our nuclear nonproliferation objectives or to the support of our Afghanistan policies.'

Nuclear nonproliferation (boy, that's a big word there) or supporting the "freedom fighters" in Afghanistan. Who do you think won that particular policy battle? If you guessed "Afghanistan", you get a cookie:

'As might have been predicted in 1987, Afghanistan won. In mid-December, conferees on the appropriations bill granted Pakistan a two and one-half year waiver from nuclear nonproliferation laws, the same day Arshad Prevez was convicted of conspiring to defraud the U.S. government and of making false statements to obtain an export license. On January 15, 1988, President Reagan invoked the waiver authority to bypass both the Symington-Glenn legislation and the Solarz amendment, arguing that "disrupting one of the pillars of the U.S. relationship with Pakistan would be counter-productive for the strategic interests of the United States, destabilizing for South Asia, and unlikely to achieve the nonproliferation objectives sought by the sponsors." Representative Markey's conclusion was that the "history of Pakistan and U.S. non-proliferation law is violation, violation, violation from Pakistan and waiver, waiver, waiver from the United States."'(all paragraphs from Terry L. Deibel, "Pakistan In the Bush Years: Foreign Aid and Foreign Influence", Case 365A, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.)

Violation violaton violation, waver waver waver -- sound familiar in context with Pakistan? I don't think I need to remind our sharp readers that Pakistan was recently caught with its hand in the cookie jar, selling nuclear weapons information under the table to people like Iran and, possibly, North Korea. We also note that the "freedom fighters" in Afghanistan turned out to be a bit more committed to their anti-American cause than most Republicans thought at the time. Those forward-thinking Republicans, so strong on the issue of national defense.

Andrew 8:46 PM : |


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