Thursday, December 17, 2009

Af-Pak: Diplomacy Gone Awry

Lead articles today on how a UN official from the US (the already controversial Peter Galbraith) might have proposed that the US subvert Afghanistan's election and on how the Pakistanis seem to be harassing/blocking the activities of the US embassy

How to make friends and influence enemies?  How to make enemies and influence friends?

As I always point out, NATO and ISAF are just guys with guns, but the political problems are prior and paramount.  And while military officers can play politics (Petraeus in Iraq), we ought not to expect them to have to take the lead.  But when the folks that are supposed to do that are actually hurting the cause, then what are we left with?  I am not blaming the US embassy folks in Pakistan, but this stuff points to two things--that the relationship with Pakistan is, as always, very, very hard to finesse; and Pakistan's government is hardly unitary and the idea of a single chain of command is just not realistic.  It may be that the civilian leaders of Pakistan would like more US assistance, but they don't control the rest of the government particularly well.  Principal-agent problems indeed.

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