So President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari met with members of our esteemed Senate yesterday for lunch, and proceded to get “grilled,” according to this account in the WaPo. The topic: more American bucks and aid($7.5 billion for Pakistan; 21,000 troops to Afghanistan.)It was also a chance for our Senate folks to do a bit of posturing, and ask “very pointed and very direct questions.”
Senator Bob Corker, a Republican from Tennesse, wasn’t impressed with K&Z from Af/Pakland. He said their answers were “vague” and that they probably now had “less support.”
Corker described one particularly annoying exchange with Zardari. When Zaradari was “asked about Pakistan’s porous border with Afghanistan, which allows Taliban fighters to easily pass through, Zardari pushed back, Corker said, noting that the United States was unable to control its border with Mexico.”
Wow. Hey. Hold on a second there, Ali.
Prez Zardari just broke one of the main rules of the American foreign policy game. He made an obvious, common sense, totally appropriate point. He also sort of called us hypocrites for giving him such a hard time about his border while ours is such a mess.(You aren’t supposed to say that we’re hypocrites, Prez.) Zardari took an example of the United States own border control problems to illustrate the point that the demands to close down or stop the “porous” border with Afghanistan were highly unrealistic.
The kind of common sense point Zadari made usually doesn’t make it into foreign policy debates. For example, if someone says, “We need to send 50,000 troops to Afghanistan,” and you answer, “I don’t know if that’s a good idea, I mean, would Americans in Montana or Texas like it if 50,000 Afghans set up bases and patrolled their streets and accidentally dropped bombs on the Holiday Inn wedding parties and everything?” Ask that question, and you’re considered a Ron Paul fringe type. Or with Iraq:”We need to go reshape the Iraqi government to become a democracy so the athletes foot of freedom can leave its imprint on other Middle Eastern countries.” And you say, “But common sense wise, do you think anybody in America would like it if some foreign power changed our gov’t? Haven’t you seen Red Dawn? And if some foreign power did change our government, do you think then the Mexican and Canadian governments would topple like dominoes too?”
There are probably better examples, but it’s Friday.
Anyway, those kind of statements are considered taboo. They’re almost too obvious, so much so that they’re on some level insulting to the intelligence of our foreign policy thinkers.
And Zardari has been doing a good “you Americans don’t know jack about Pakistan” routine lately. He even had the gall to tell Der Spiegelthat, “we understand our country better than outsiders,” (another shockingly obvious notion) that Pakistanis know how to fight Pakistanis better than Americans do, and that “nuclear weapons aren’t Kalashinkovs.” This last point also falls under the blindingly obvious, a way to get at the fact that the scenario of the Taliban “seizing” Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal borders on a Jack-Bauer like fantasy.
(Update: In my early excitment to post and gently mock Sen. Corker, I incorrectly called Zardari prime minister. He’s the president. Corrected thru-out. )