Sunday, March 27, 2005

Hypocrisy Is The Greatest Luxury

Saturday's San Francisco Chronicle featured the odd juxtaposition of two articles which, in a rational universe, would come to symbolize the sort of cognitive disconnect 300 million Americans are forced to endure under the current reign of error.

First up is the official okey-doke from the Bush administration to sell F-16's to our good buddy Pakistan, for all their "help" in the ongoing War On Terror. Yes, from harboring Osama bin Laden in their tribal provinces, to keeping Abdul Qadeer Khan safe from US interrogation about nuclear proliferation to rogue entities, to enabling the rise of the Taliban and Islamic militants in the first place, Pakistan has done A-OK by us, no matter how you slice it.

President Bush rewarded a key ally in the war on terrorism Friday by authorizing the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan, a move that reversed 15 years of policy begun under his father and that India warned would destabilize the volatile region.

The United States banned the sale of F-16s to Pakistan in 1990 out of concern over its then-undeclared nuclear weapons program, but the Bush administration has forged a close relationship with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf since Sept. 11, 2001, and considers his help crucial in the battle against Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda terrorist organization.

Forget the usual Oedipal analyses that surround these sorts of policy reversals from Bush pére to Bush fils -- the fact is that Pakistan has not been a "good" ally, but rather an ally at gunpoint. After 9/11, they were given a stark choice, to get with the program or watch Karachi get turned into a parking lot. This was a reasonable proposition on our part, and Pakistan certainly made the correct choice, but they have dragged their feet from day one.

Then again, were bin Laden actually to be captured, it would be as purely symbolic as the capture of Saddam Hussein. It would not solve a thing -- indeed, it might very well provoke another 9/11. The real crux of this biscuit is that we don't know. Keep that in mind, no matter what the supposedly well-informed and high-minded talking heads may tell you. They just don't want you pulling the curtain.

Pakistan initially wants to buy about two dozen aircraft, but administration officials said there would be no limits on how many it could purchase.

The administration tried to balance the sale by announcing simultaneously that it would allow U.S. firms the right to provide India the next generation of sophisticated, multirole combat aircraft, including upgraded F-16 and F-18 warplanes, as well as develop broader cooperation in military command and control systems, early warning detection and missile defense programs.

Uh-huh. That's exactly what a good sheriff does, gives everyone in town a gun -- especially the Hatfields and the McCoys. As long as they point them at each other, I suppose. Still, just how high a role does placation have in our foreign policy? Apparently pretty high.

Congressional leaders have criticized the prospect of renewing F-16 sales given Musharraf's refusal to allow U.S. investigators to interview Abdel Qadeer Khan, the father of the Pakistani nuclear bomb who for years ran an illicit international ring providing nuclear technology to rogue nations.

Precisely. If we look at the "good ally" accounts ledger, Pakistan is found to be severely wanting by any honest measure. If we are serious about this war on terror, it beggars the imagination to try and honestly defend this action.

Which leads us to our second story, ironically placed next to the first one in the Chronicle.

A federal criminal investigation has uncovered evidence that the government of Pakistan has made clandestine purchases of U.S. high-tech components for use in its nuclear weapons program, in defiance of American law.

Federal authorities also say the highly specialized equipment at one point passed through the hands of an arms dealer in Islamabad, Pakistan, named Humayun Khan, who they say has ties to Islamic militants.

What exactly does Pakistan have to do to get pimp-slapped from these would-be tough guys -- nuke Houston? Really, this is getting fucking stupid, not to mention dangerous.

Even though President Bush has been pushing for an international crackdown on such trafficking, efforts by two U.S. agencies to send investigators to Pakistan to gather more evidence have been stymied for more than a year by other American officials, according to U.S. officials knowledgeable about the case.

"This is the age-old problem with Pakistan and the U.S.," said David Albright, director of the Institute for Science and International Security in Washington. "Other priorities always trump the United States from coming down hard on Pakistan's nuclear proliferation." A former U.N. weapons inspector in Iraq and elsewhere, Albright favors getting tougher with Pakistan.

Selling them F-16s must be the "crackdown" part. Showed you, didn't we? Recognize, motherfucker, we crackin' down!

Pakistan must be positively quaking in their collective boots at this point, with this unprecedented show of force. Let us briefly compare and contrast with what it took for us to launch a full-scale invasion into Iraq -- a couple of doctored documents and bullshit rumors of what might happen. And here we have proof on top of proof on top of a systematic pattern of dangerous behavior working at direct cross purposes with American interests and security.

So once again we ask, what exactly does Pakistan have to do to get the smackdown it sorely deserves? It is a disruptive, unstable, corrupt troublemaker of a nation, good for little more than stirring up shit with the world's largest democracy (which would be India, for those of you who experienced the wonders of the American public educational system). It has been fucking with us for years, and has yet to even be "consequenced", as yuppie behavioral therapists would term it.

If ever a kid needed to be yanked up by his collar and had the shit beat out of him right in the middle of the aisle at the supermarket, it is now. Pakistan is that kid, and we keep indulging his bullshit. Apparently we won't get the message until the Space Needle or LAX has a dirty bomb go off.

So. Feel safer? Still think you got the right team on the job?


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