Friday, May 8, 2009

Er, Good News: Support for bin Laden down to 34% from 50% in Pakistan

Fred Kaplan has a blunt article on the Afghanistan-Pakistan puzzle in Slate:

In short, we can send Pakistanis money, arms, handbooks, and the like. But we can't make them do what they say they're going to do or even effectively monitor whether they're doing it. Bush sent $10 billion to then-President Pervez Musharraf, who pledged that he would use the aid to go after the terrorists. For the most part, he didn't.

Meanwhile, the Pakistani military has little desire to improve its counterinsurgency skills. Many officers are more loyal to the Taliban than to the central government. And though the army is beginning to crack down on Taliban fighters in the Swat and Buner districts, it is still the case that
80 percent or 90 percent of Pakistani troops are stationed on the border with India, which most officers still see as the country's greatest threat. This perception is no mere idiosyncrasy; it is integral to the Pakistani worldview, dating back to the founding of the nation and the partition from India in 1947. It has been reinforced by three wars between the two nations, in '47, '65, and '71, as well as a war or two that nearly broke out in the past decade, and has been hammered home further by the fact that both counties have nuclear weapons.

Maybe this time the Pakistani military is really getting serious. Certainly the population is less enamored of Islamist terrorists than it used to be. Those who say they support suicide bombing under certain circumstances has plummeted from 40 percent in 2004 to just 5 percent in 2008, according to a
Pew survey released this past March. (Then again, 34 percent of Pakistanis still say they have confidence in Osama bin Laden, down from 50 percent.)
I like how Kaplan throws out the bin Laden poll way down in the article. 34% is no tiny minority of extremists. The Taliban are much more popular than the Americans. There's no way to change it, but the Americans keep playing pretend and sending money. It's impossible that this will end well. Impossible.

No comments:

Post a Comment