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Can't Live With Them, Can't Live Without Them

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.

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  • Asok

    OK, I understand why we can’t live with them, but why, exactly, can’t we live without them?

  • Jack

    We can’t live with them but we can live without them

  • homer

    Problem with America is; they still think in cold war environment. The new challenge is China. Pakistan is ally of the Chinese. It tolerates America it needs the money.
    On the other hand, India will never trust the USA while it has open or covert links with Pakistan, which is working against a democratic country.
    The question is can Americans take on the Chinese; with India or with Pakistan. It seems in the end USA will have [alienated both]neither?

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