H.D.S. Greenway has a long and distinguished journalistic career and his NYT op-ed on US-Pakistan relations is nuanced, balanced, sensitive — and misses the main point.
Greenway attacks the Obama administration for cutting military aid to Pakistan and tries to explain US-Pakistani relations. They are angry, he says, because we want a “transactional” relationship and they want a “strategic” one. Well, yes — but it doesn’t help to know that.When Pakistanis say they want a strategic relationship, they mean they want us to take their side against India. That’s one cup of Kool-Aid that we aren’t going to drink. It’s partly because India matters more than Pakistan, and it’s partly because Pakistan wants the impossible: for us to make India do what Pakistan wants. We can’t do that and wouldn’t do it if we could.That’s why the relationship is troubled: Pakistan thinks we are helping their worst enemy while bribing Pakistan with crumbs. They need the crumbs too much to say no. They hate us, and they hate themselves for needing us.The administration has made its share of mistakes in Pakistan — but this relationship’s dysfunction is baked in the cake. There is no way to get this right.