Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

Why Pakistan is going down the tubes

John Schmidt, who used to be political counselor in the U.S. embassy in Islamabad, has a good piece in the new issue of Survival explaining why he thinks Pakistan is doomed, and why it is a fool’s errand to expect the Pakistani political establishment to help the United States achieve its goals: At the root ...

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584381_090625_tube2.jpg

John Schmidt, who used to be political counselor in the U.S. embassy in Islamabad, has a good piece in the new issue of Survival explaining why he thinks Pakistan is doomed, and why it is a fool's errand to expect the Pakistani political establishment to help the United States achieve its goals:

At the root of the country's problems is a feudal political establishment primarily interested in promoting and preserving its own narrow class interests and unable or unwilling to seriously address the myriad threats the country faces. Unless and until this dynamic changes, Pakistan cannot he counted on to help the United States in its struggle against the Taliban or even to stop the spread of radical Islam within its own borders. Unfortunately, there is nothing in the nature of Pakistani political culture, nor in the performance of the Pakistani political class since the founding of the state, that provides any grounds for optimism."

John Schmidt, who used to be political counselor in the U.S. embassy in Islamabad, has a good piece in the new issue of Survival explaining why he thinks Pakistan is doomed, and why it is a fool’s errand to expect the Pakistani political establishment to help the United States achieve its goals:

At the root of the country’s problems is a feudal political establishment primarily interested in promoting and preserving its own narrow class interests and unable or unwilling to seriously address the myriad threats the country faces. Unless and until this dynamic changes, Pakistan cannot he counted on to help the United States in its struggle against the Taliban or even to stop the spread of radical Islam within its own borders. Unfortunately, there is nothing in the nature of Pakistani political culture, nor in the performance of the Pakistani political class since the founding of the state, that provides any grounds for optimism.”

Basically, Schmidt argues, the country is a kleptocracy:

The highly contentious and sometimes violent nature of Pakistani politics does not reflect deep-seated differences of approach on policy issues, but rather a struggle between competing networks for the right to control state resources. . . . Although often regarded as a class apart, the Army functions in many ways like just another political party, keen to preserve its on prerogatives.”

My thought: It’s even harder to change the political culture of your allies than it is of your enemies.

briPod/Flickr

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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