Bin Laden: Now, what about Pakistan?

The question in the headline arose almost as soon as Americans learned our guys found and killed Osama bin Laden. Al-Qaida’s leader was hiding not far from Pakistan’s capital in a town called Abbottabad, where the country’s future military officers go to be trained and its past officers go to retire. There is speculation he may have lived in a large, walled compound there for up to six years.

Pakistan’s leaders, CIA Director Leon Panetta reportedly told congressional leaders this week, were either “involved or incompetent” in allowing bin Laden to live securely right under their noses. The White House didn’t notify Pakistan’s government of the mission beforehand, worried that someone in Islamabad’s hierarchy would warn bin Laden and allow him to escape again.

All this, despite our spending billions on foreign aid for Pakistan. If our foreign aid dollars can’t buy competence or confidence, what are we buying?

Public opinion polls routinely list foreign aid among the most dispensable of federal spending programs (they also reveal the public thinks foreign aid takes up a far larger share of the budget than it really does, but that’s another story). The only surprise was that it took until Wednesday for a member of Congress to introduce a bill cutting off aid to Pakistan until its government proves it wasn’t sheltering bin Laden.

Foreign policy “realists” will point out that Pakistan is an unsteady nuclear power sandwiched between a country where we’ve spent much blood and far more treasure (Afghanistan) and one that ought to be a key American ally in the 21st century (India). Pakistani instability, they’ll say, would cost more than the $9.5 billion in foreign aid we’ve sent there during the past five years, according to the federal government.

There may be some truth to that — if we assume the same Pakistani leaders who abided bin Laden’s sanctuary would draw the line at letting terrorists acquire nukes. However, of that $9.5 billion:

  • Just $101.1 million, or 1 percent of total aid, has gone to counterterrorism efforts in Pakistan; and
  • A microscopic $4.2 million, or four-hundredths of 1 percent of total aid, has gone to safeguard Pakistan’s nukes and otherwise “combat weapons of mass destruction.”

The bulk of the money, which in 2009 equaled the annual income of almost 2.3 million Pakistanis, essentially went to prop up the political and military ruling class. This is the same political and military ruling class, remember, that was “either involved or incompetent” regarding bin Laden — and goodness knows how many other leaders and foot soldiers of al-Qaida and the Taliban.

Meanwhile, just 6 percent of our aid to Pakistan since 2006 has gone toward “democracy, human rights and governance” programs — and just one-sixth of that pittance went expressly to non-government groups.

The Arab revolutions taking place across North Africa and the Middle East remind us that propped-up authoritarian regimes are only stable until they’re not. When the regime falls, the people know exactly who our billions supported. And it wasn’t them.

Pakistanis aren’t Arabs, and the government in Islamabad is somewhat more democratic than the ones overthrown in Cairo and Tunis. But, as in those countries, the military ultimately holds the reins in Pakistan. The stability we buy there is no sturdier than the peace we rented in those other lands.

The Arab Spring has not (yet) yielded a democratic bounty like the one after the Berlin Wall fell in Eastern Europe, where we invested in budding democratic institutions rather than thuggish regimes. As we see there, and now in Pakistan, it’s quite costly to buy allies who won’t even stay bought.

– By Kyle Wingfield

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67 comments Add your comment

jconservative

May 4th, 2011
7:23 pm

And yet we captured Khalid Sheikh Mohammed with the active participation of Pakistani agents.

As is usual in foreign policy/affairs nothing is as simple as it appears on the surface.

Did Pakistan hide and protect Bin Laden? Maybe.

Pakistan did, in fact, help capture Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of 9/11.

Where was the “enhanced interrogation”, the 183 waterboardings, of KSM conducted? Pakistan? Jordan? Toledo, Ohio?

This is the danger of conducting foreign policy in the mass media. There is a reason the CIA does not publish every move they make on You Tube. The head of station in Amman does not do Twitter.

Easy folks, easy.

buck@gon

May 4th, 2011
7:31 pm

Looking for leadership regarding Pakistan? My bet is on Panetta or Hillary. Don’t expect anything from the big-O except to take credit for anything that happens by luck to turn to our benefit. Then we will get our earfull of “gutsy move” and “genius” spouted by your buddies Civil Cynthia and Jocular Jay. We’ll also hear much about “I did this” and “I ordered that”—all by MYself!

Freedom Lover

May 4th, 2011
7:39 pm

Cutting off all foreign aid to EVERY country on the planet would be the right move. Of course that has been Ron Paul’s stand from his very first day in congress

But since there is nothing that americans like more than seeing innocent brown people dying at the hands of the US military (especially muslim ones) and there is nothing more that the military industrial complex likes more than watching the products explode inside occupied houses and other locations all over the world, we can certainly expect that the two-headed war party will do whatever it can to give Obama all the encouragement he needs (no constitutionally-required declaration of war of course – there is an election coming up after all – and in war you have to respect certain rules and such) to lauch an invasion and occupation of that country.

Meanwhile at home the dollar will collape, people will be rioting in the streets, food will fly off shelves, but CNN, FOX and the other government medial outlets will have plenty of “entertainment” from the war zone to keep everyone distracted.

We have been at war in Pakistan since Obama took office. He has sent hundreds if not thousands of drones into the country that have killed thousands of innocent men, women, and children. Why should things change now???

Le Bourgeois

May 4th, 2011
8:57 pm

Keep enough direct dollars flowing into just a couple of key pockets via the CIA in Pakistan that would ensure that the nuclear program is either contained or outright dismantled in a behind the scenes fashion and then if terrorism continues let Indians unleash the fury on Pakistan once the primary nuke threat is deterred.

wampum

May 4th, 2011
9:52 pm

Buckybeaver: “We’ll also hear much about “I did this” and “I ordered that”—all by MYself!”

The final decisions were his to make, take responsibility for, and be accountable for. Name one president that has done otherwise.

wampum

May 4th, 2011
9:53 pm

Kyle’s foreign policy is sounding more and more like the liberal’s.

KOOL

May 4th, 2011
10:02 pm

I think the US should arm India with tons several tons of WMDs, and let them blast Pakistan back to the stone age (even thought they’re not too far removed from the stone age)

JF McNamara

May 4th, 2011
10:10 pm

Pakistan is a nuclear power. We need to prop up whoever is stable and sane enough to make sure they don’t get out. Period. Point Blank. I don’t care where the money goes. The new leaders will forget what happened as soon as they get that first check from us.

If they have free election, what if the Taliban wins? If we don’t prop them up, and the Taliban overtakes their military, then what? Now we have a radical government with nukes, and we need to send our military in there. Maybe, just maybe, the government is doing the right thing here.

Ret

May 4th, 2011
10:52 pm

Pakistan is NOT a US ally–or those pieces of that secret helicopter would be headed back to US, not, as is more likely, too China–no doubt for $. The US has been paying Packistan for PROTECTION–and not getting much of it. Time to stop filling those generals wallets.

Ret

May 4th, 2011
10:52 pm

Ret

May 4th, 2011
10:53 pm

Protection in the sense that hoodlems demand it so those same hoodlems will create somewhat less problems than otherwise.

Le Bourgeois

May 4th, 2011
10:54 pm

I mostly agree JF, however propping up the puppet of the month only slows the incremental slide towards an unstable force, i.e. terrorists or terrorist supporters, in acquiescing the existing nukes for purposes of reprisal against the West and/or India.
We need a new, clear containment and dismantlement policy with Pakistan. One with a timeline that if not met will be enforced with heavy economic and lastly potential military consequences. If we push this on North Korea, why should the two-faced Pakistanis be any different?

Michael H. Smith

May 4th, 2011
10:56 pm

@ KOOL – India is and has been a nuclear power, or nuclear pawn, depending on whose prospective is in political play or rather whom is being played politically, which usually means the U.S.

Michael H. Smith

May 4th, 2011
11:21 pm

@ Le Bourgeois – Perhaps it would be better to have a clear dismantlement policy, of our own dismantlement policy. Until then the two-faced of the world really don’t know which face America is likely wearing on any given day: Is it the moral face that speaks of liberty and freedom or the Corporate face that has no moral concerns about whose liberty it takes or whose freedom it will deny to make a profit?

As much as I disliked leaders like Nikita Khrushchev it is hard to deny what he and others like him meant when they used quotes similar to this one: “The Capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them.”

itsmeagain

May 5th, 2011
2:12 am

Urm, i’m not sure that aid is being supplied is to “buy” anything. Not that i disagree that aid should be stopped, but i don’t think implying that America is buying something by supplying aid is correct.

DawgDad

May 5th, 2011
3:01 am

Obama has created a huge problem for himself. Just like Bush did with his immigration policy and the TARP money at end of his term he’s sold out the core values of his constituency. The difference with Obama is he’s got a long way to go. He’s the darling of the moment but in time his own leftist ideological base will eat him alive, just like they did Lyndon Johnson. His actions were an anathema to them, they no longer trust him and with the Republican House he can no longer bring home the bacon for their progressive causes.

The only guarantee in the Middle East is continual turmoil. It’s on the rise and as long as we’re there we’ll be right in the middle of it, getting shot or taken from all sides. Leave our card on the table – you attack us or an ally again we’ll hit you back like we did in Afghanistan and Iraq.

GUNGA DIN

May 5th, 2011
5:16 am

stop ALL foreign aid (including military) we are borrowing money from China to give to people that hate us. bring our troops home from japan, korea, europe and the middle east. time for those countries to pay for their own defense. our troops are needed here at home to protect our borders and ports. they could also be used to halt the international drug trade. our money goes to the pockets of corrupt politicians while people here in the US go homeless and hungry. Our infrastructure fails and our schools cut teachers while billions of our dollars are wasted overseas.

I Report :-) You Whine :-( Thee Magnificent!!! Just sayin...

May 5th, 2011
5:43 am

obozo doesn’t want to disrespect the memory of bin Laden by showing his death photo but he has no issue making sure the pictures of the stealth helicopter makes the rounds, just sayin…

Do all you terrorists know where our Navy Seals are stationed or do we need to run some more newspaper stories tomorrow?

DCB

May 5th, 2011
6:37 am

Great summary comment, Kyle – “…it’s quite costly to buy allies who won’t even stay bought.” Sort of says it all, doesn’t it!

Ahnald

May 5th, 2011
7:24 am

I think the next big enemy after Pakistan…is our News Media…of course the Pakistani’s knew Bin Laden was there and there had to have been some sort of support link, the fact he was there for perhaps 5-6 years answers that question

Now the news media is questioning that Bin Laden was unarmed when he was shot, who cares, he was a worthless POS with no regard for human life…and glad to see we are above showing photos of Bin laden’s head being blown off, we did the job, brought justice where it needed to “be brought”

Ahnald

May 5th, 2011
7:27 am

and Dawg dad…how in the hell did Obama create a problem for himself, what would you have done if your intelligence services presented you with the information of his potential whereabouts ?

I am an Ameican first, politics second, Obama had some kahunas , which was an initial surprise, and frankly and glad he did

Curious George

May 5th, 2011
7:34 am

Is Obama trying to delay the release of the Bin Laden “Death” photos until his team of PhotoShop experts can produce a semi-believable image like they did with creating his [so-called] “Birth” Certificate from Hawaii?

Rae

May 5th, 2011
7:35 am

Using Republican logic, I’d like to congratulate Clinton for finally getting Osama. Afterall, he provided Bush with intel when he left office. Too bad, Bush ignored intel on 911.

Ahnald

May 5th, 2011
7:41 am

http://www.ajc.com/news/nation-world/pakistan-warns-america-not-935882.html

Title of this article should read ” You must be kidding me, and BTW, “Triple Screw You, Bring it on “

Rae

May 5th, 2011
7:47 am

I guess if Republicans want to play the Presidential continuum game we should really give credit to Reagan for finally getting Osama. Afterall, he supported bin laden and the mujahideen with weapons and intel when we considered him a freedom fighter against the Russians. Hats off to Reagan, you finally nailed the sob.

independent thinker

May 5th, 2011
8:22 am

Rae- you hit the nail on the head- just like Sadaam Hussein- the Repubs created the problem and then want to take crerdit for eliminating it. Back in the 80s under Saint Ronnie there was only one enemy for the pseudo cowboy- the dirty rotten commies and anyone allied with them, Any tyrant or terrorist was a hero if they killed commies or at least stopped them or as In Sadaam’s case came over to our side from the dark side.Terrorists found their niche due to the ineptness of Reagan and Bush 41 who saw the US as weak and a paer tiger to conquer after victory over the Soviets in Afghanistan. We turned tail in Lebanon in 1983 after Hezbollah killed 149 Matrines. What if Reagan stood his groung and our Seals had wiped out Hezbollahs leadership?? We aided illegally state terrorists in Iran and then supported Sadaam Hussein giving him chemical weapons. After the Gulf war we left him in place free to torment his own people. Then Bush 43 created a killing field for Al Queda recruits in Iraq by not understanding the resistance after Mission Accomplished supposedly occurred.
Yes lets give Reagan and Bush 41and 43 credit for creating the mess and weakness that another president with more guts brought to a screeching halt. The paper tiger came alive just as when we captured Sadaam and his sons but this time we did it under the most extraordinary circumstances in a foreign country. Only Israel has had the guts to pull that off repeatedly to our chagrin. We are now finally seen again as an extraordinary country as Obama said.

Fletch

May 5th, 2011
8:24 am

Curious George – “Is Obama trying to delay the release of the Bin Laden “Death” photos until his team of PhotoShop experts can produce a semi-believable image like they did with creating his [so-called] “Birth” Certificate from Hawaii?”

As I’m not a fan of Obama, and I’m not loyal to either party, I can sy this with the utmost confidence:

Curious George is a moron.

Let me know when you dig up the lost tapes on the Moon landing conspiricy, or maybe the “secret” Bush papers giving the go ahead for operation 9/11. Tool!

jd

May 5th, 2011
8:29 am

Yeah, lets show them Pakistanis –we’ll withdraw our aid (like we did to Afghanistan after they kicked out the Soviets), let the Taliban take over, and what the Taliban don’t take, the Chinese will. That will show em!

Rae

May 5th, 2011
8:31 am

independent thinker,

kudos!

detritusUSA

May 5th, 2011
8:54 am

The President’s problem is not Pakistan. The problem is Afghanistan and the fact that the reason for the invasion was to get Bin Laden. Bin Laden is now dead. No reason for the troops to be there at all. Bring them home and all the money it costs to be there.

However, I have no faith that the President will do the right thing. He won’t cross the military-industrial complex, and all the greedy Americans who have their money invested in those companies.

MarkV

May 5th, 2011
8:59 am

Fletch is giving Curious George too much credit by calling him only a moron.

carlosgvv

May 5th, 2011
9:01 am

Every year we have to give the Government a portion of our hard-earned money in the form of taxes. Every year, some of that money goes to Countries in the form of foreign aid. And, many of those countries hate our guts and would cheer if another 9/11 occurred. And yet, this foreign aid giveaway will continue. I think some sharp reporters should follow the money on this. It’s possible that if the full truth were known, we really would be outraged.

Sick

May 5th, 2011
9:02 am

Freedom Lover

May 5th, 2011
9:06 am

detritusUSA – Well said. I have absolute faith that the President will NOT do the right thing. War is the health of the state, and this one is on the ropes and needing a new boogeyman. Expect the worst.

Joe Mama

May 5th, 2011
9:42 am

Mr. Wingfield, when can we hope to see a similar editorial from you on the topic of North Korea?

After all, while we were mucking about in Iraq, the Norks went and got themselves a REAL bomb, and here we are, still sending them food and fuel and former Presidents for photo ops.

Belt of Orion

May 5th, 2011
9:43 am

Make no mistake, the President will indeed see that the Obama bin Laden death verification photo will be secretly “leaked” to the public as soon as his graphic design team finishes creating it first.

Don't Tread

May 5th, 2011
10:01 am

Now Pakistan is threatening us if any more raids like the one that killed Been Leaded are conducted. Apparently they scrambled a couple F-16s to shoot down our SEAL team’s helicopters but they didn’t get there quick enough.

Cut them off now. Not another red cent. Freeze their assets here too…maybe we can get some of that money back.

Bart Abel

May 5th, 2011
10:01 am

“The only surprise was that it took until Wednesday for a member of Congress to introduce a bill cutting off aid to Pakistan until its government proves it wasn’t sheltering bin Laden.”

I understand the sentiment here, but everybody knows, or should know, that you can’t prove a negative. Voters can be emotional. But we should expect our legislators should use their heads.

Get Real

May 5th, 2011
10:16 am

Obozo’s biggest fan is himself! More and more I’m beginning that Paneta is the one ordered Bin Laden killed! I don’t think Obozo has the guts! Now he don’t want to show pictures, had Bin Laden’s body washed before buring at sea? They should have fed his body to the hogs! This man was scum of the earth, killed thousands of innocent men, women and children and Obozo wants to be politically correct! Give me a break! We saw Sadam captured and hanged, his sons killed and bodies displayedfor everyone to see! And the most wicked of all we worry about offending someone! I think it only offends Obozo because he is his Muslim Brother! We desperately need a President with courage and compassion for the American People!

buck@gon

May 5th, 2011
10:20 am

wampum yesterday,

Name one President that took credit after the fact for something that went right? Come on! That’s really quite funny.

You’re joking, right?

Is he taking credit for the economy, for employment, for gas prices, for housing values, for manufacturing leaving our shores, for the sinking middle class, for his constant golfing outings, for his waffling on nearly all foreign policy issues, including Libya, Iran, Syria, for our untapped natural resources, for prohibiting economic development purely on EPA-based reasons?

Can he stand up and say that he did something else right, or why is all of this hulabaloo such a wonderful cause for national media circus?

It’s lil’ Barry’s first “good job,” and it was an effort begun years before it became “under” his watch.

khc

May 5th, 2011
10:21 am

if pakistanis don’t get on board by ridding their country of terrorists, then lets encourage india (weak sisters) to pay pakistan back for mumbai attacks

wampum

May 5th, 2011
10:40 am

buckybeaver@10:20:

Here was my yesterday’s comment:”The final decisions were his to make, take responsibility for, and be accountable for. Name one president that has done otherwise.”

Could you please explain how your rambling, incoherent post was in any form or fashion a response to my post.

independent thinker

May 5th, 2011
10:46 am

Get real at 10:01- Face the fact the only order given appears to be shoot to kill. Capturing Bin Laden alive would have been way too embarrassing for the US and other countries. I am sure the readers of this blog can begin to figure out all the embarrassing facts OBL knew besides probably bringing down the Pakistani government. Start with his support from Reagan and the CIA in the eighties. Go to our occupation of Saudi Arabia in the nineties contrary to express promises to leave after the Gulf war;and go to the mock attack exercises run by the US on 9-11 under Cheney (see 9-11 report) and the dark secret of who leaked that to OBL, Go to his brother being business partner in the Carlisle Group with Bush 41 and other neocons and go to the emergency departure of his family from the US after 9-11 when all planes were grounded and try to explain his magical escape at Tora Bora. Do you really think the US wanted him captured? Why was Pervez Musharaff so vocal on Monday of the violations of his countries sovereignty by Obama??? Maybe a little secret deal with Bush 43???? A good investigative reporter not toeing the official line will some day figure all this out.

Robert

May 5th, 2011
10:48 am

Reading some of the post on this message board reminds me we have a long way to go to get rid of terrorism in this country. Killing of a foreign terrorist leader is only energizing the homegrown terrorism (tea party, Birthers, etc.) whose weapons of choice are hatred, fear and rage/mob mentality against minorities, women, gays & lesbians and Muslims & Jews. How long will the American People tolerate homegrown terrorism? When does it stop? Calling President Obama names (Oboza, barry, etc.) are offensive and racially motivated.

retired early

May 5th, 2011
10:50 am

The “war on terror” is like climbing a mountain…you use whatever “foothold” you can find. Pakistan is far from perfect. I think they kept Bin Laden in “protective custody”. The intel indicated he has not been involved in any terrorist plots. That’s because he was not allowed to communicate with the outside world. This arrangement would prevent him from being killed with the assistance of the pakistani military, thus pissing off a large percentage of their radical population…resulting in a civil war. The Pakistani government, of course, had to maintain the lie that they did not know where Bin Laden lived. They feel they were protecting the world from him…and maintaining stability in their country. We have no choice but to engage the Pakistan Government in the “War on Terror”, because it is in our own best interest. What’s that phrase…”don’t cut off your nose , to spite your face”.

Jefferson

May 5th, 2011
10:57 am

Watch your cork. Works when fishing, works in life.

No More Progressives!

May 5th, 2011
11:06 am

A Pakistani Military leader is akin to a French war hero. They probably exist; I’ve never met one, nor do I know anyone who’s ever met one.

MarkV

May 5th, 2011
11:20 am

Let’s be clear: People with opinions like Get Real @10:16 am are subhuman species, the existence of which we have to tolerate, but the best way to deal with them is to ignore them.

carlosgvv

May 5th, 2011
11:25 am

Pakistan is threatening us with “disastrous consequences” if we conduct any more raids in their Country. This raises some questions:

1. If China was giving a country foreign aid and received that kind of threat, what would they do?

2. If Russia was giving a country foreign aid and received that kind of threat, what would they do?

3. What are the chances that we will cut off their foreign aid or do anything in response to this threat?

MarkV

May 5th, 2011
11:29 am

No More Progressives! @11:06 am: You never met a French war hero? Were you supposed to meet one? This kind of insult shows only stupidity.