Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Foreign Policy Incompetence - Pakistani Edition

The Obama administration gets much well-deserved criticism for its incompetent and ineffective domestic policies. But it is always worth pointing out that administration incompetence also extends to foreign policy. Today we had another reminder.

Last Thursday Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, touched off a major diplomatic crisis with Pakistan when he said the following things:
[He] told the Senate Armed Services Committee that Pakistan’s spy agency was tied to the attack on the U.S. embassy last week as well as the truck bombing on Sept. 10 that wounded 77 American soldiers. ... Mullen told the committee the Haqqani network “acts as a veritable arm” of Pakistan’s intelligence agency.“In choosing to use violent extremism as an instrument of policy, the government of Pakistan, and most especially the Pakistani army and ISI, jeopardizes not only the prospect of our strategic partnership but Pakistan’s opportunity to be a respected nation with legitimate regional influence,” Mullen said. “They may believe that by using these proxies, they are hedging their bets or redressing what they feel is an imbalance in regional power. But in reality, they have already lost that bet.”

These are things that should never have been said unless A) we meant them, and B) we were prepared for the obvious Pakistani reaction and felt that somehow they would produce positive results. Apparently the Obama administration was too clueless to figure that out. Now that the damage has been done, it is trying to backtrack. From the first NYT link,
Asked on Wednesday whether he agreed that the Haqqani network was “a veritable arm” of the ISI, Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, told reporters, “It’s not language I would use.”

He pivoted quickly to say the Obama administration is united in its assessment that “links” exist between the Haqqani network and the ISI, “and that Pakistan needs to take action to address that.”
If that wasn't the language they wanted used, it shouldn't have been used by the senior military leader of the United States. The damage is already done.

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