*Er ic Ehrmann

The Diplomatic Insight - - Perspective - 20

When Henry Kissinger flew Pak­istan In­ter­na­tional Air­lines on his “se­cret trip” to China in 1971 av­er­ageAmer­i­cans knew lit­tle of South Asia. Af­ter all, Tom Hanks had yet to star in the movie Char­lie Wil­son's War and the world was still wait­ing for the Con­cert for Bangladesh. To­day, the tenor of re­la­tions be­tween Is­lam­abad andWash­ing­ton has taken on a retro char­ac­ter, ap­proach­ing Cold War style “brinkman­ship” pro­prtions, enough that US Joint Chiefs Chair­man Gen­eral Martin Dempsey told CNN that “they are a mess” and for MSNBC to say that the re­la­tion­ship has hit an “all time low.” The re­sponse in Pak­istan mean­while in­di­cates that elected lead­ers, key cler­ics and mil­i­tary men par­tic­i­pate in a strate­gic mi­lieu that causes events to un­fold in an man­ner that cuts both­ways... just like spot bet­ting in aT­est Match. The United States has pro­vided Pak­istan with over $20 bil­lion in aid fol­low­ing 9/11 in an ef­fort to pro­mote se­cu­rity, open so­ci­ety is­sues, civil-mil­i­tary re­la­tions and cul­tural projects. Ask con­sul­tants like Jack Devine, a for­mer ar­chi­tect of US pol­icy in Park­istan andAfghanistan, andAn­thony Cordes­man, an­other old hand and for­mer ad­viser to US Sen­a­tor John McCain and they will prob­a­bly con­cede that the huge amount of overt money pro­vided has been a pal­lia­tive, fail­ing to im­ple­ment the more open and demo­cratic po­lit­i­cal cul­ture that was the key sell­ing point used by ad­vo­cates of the long term pol­icy to get buy-in at the high­est lev­els of theUS es­tab­lish­ment. Be­hind Wash­ing­ton's long shadow stands Saudi Ara­bia. The House of Saud is Pak­istan's premier ally in the world of Is­lam. This spir­i­tual and eco­nomic al­liance- par­tic­u­larly the re­mit­tances of Pak­istani work­ers in Saudi Ara­bia back to their fam­i­lies- has cre­ated a co-de­pen­dence that is some­times finds it­self chal­lenged in bal­anc­ing na­tional iden­ti­ties and so­cial or­ga­ni­za­tion mod­els with the in­ter­ests of Is­lamic unity. Against this back­drop, the pol­icy ap­pa­ra­tus of the United States gov­ern­ment fea­tures a white power elite that cen­sus data in­di­cate is be­com­ing the mi­nor­ity. To hold power, it em­ploys the con­cepts of mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism and so­cial in­clu­sion to me­di­ate ac­cess and in­flu­ence. An elected pres­i­dent whose first name ef­fec­tively means peace in Ara­bic and He­brew has cre­ated much con­ster­na­tion on the Amer­i­can right, trum­pet­ing his AfricanAmer­i­can her­itage while be­ing the child of a cau­casian mother and a Kenyan fa­ther. The world of Is­lam faces a sim­i­lar power shift, since those who rep­re­sent the found­ing dom­i­nant Arab cul­ture now rep­re­sent less than one third of the pop­u­la­tion es­ti­mated to be fol­low­ers of Is­lam. As a result of this de­mo­graphic trend Pak­istan, like In­done­sia with its es­ti­mated 202 mil­lion fol­low­ers, mostly Sunni, is caught in an ide­o­log­i­cal and sec­tar­ian cross­fire. And now, as pub­lic diplo­macy molts its soft power skin and de­faults to the clas­sic von Clause­witz def­i­ni­tion of war by other means, the con­cern of Wash­ing­ton and their key proxy ally the Saudi roy­als, is that Pak­istan and Iran are now us­ing use nu­clear power to create a power shift that gives par­ity to the dom­i­nant pop­u­la­tion of non-Arab­mem­bers of the Is­lamic faith. Iron­i­cally, the Riyadh-Is­lam­abad al­liance has been tac­itly en­abled by decades of US pol­icy. Like the af­fore­men­tioned metaphor of spot bet­ting in a key test match, the re­la­tion­ship has im­me­di­ate fi­anan­cial impact- on world mar­kets, en­ergy prices and global se­cu­rity. And due to the his­toric dom­i­nance of the Saudis in the bi-lat­eral al­liance, it is Pak­istan, not the House of Saud, whose im­age is sul­lied in the West when ex­trem­ism and vi­o­lence take cen­ter stage. Per­haps it's time for the In­ter-Ser­vices Pub­lic Re­la­tions Agency, and oth­ers, to think about repack­ag­ing the im­age of Pak­istan. If cities in In­dia like Mum­bai (exBom­bay) and Chen­nai (ex-Madras) can re­brand them­selves on the fly, Pak­istan can do it too. The leak­ing- or even a for­mal an­nounce­ment- in pop­u­lar and diplo­matic me­dia that such ac­tion is be­ing con­sid­ered could send an im­por­tant sig­nal that might help me­di­ate fur­ther re­tribu­tive acts by NATO and ame­lio­rate the neg­a­tive “bad guy” im­age of Pak­istan that con­tin­ues to be prop­a­gated by me­dia as­sets in the West. The world is full of strange con­nec­tions. For rea­sons well known Pak­istan does not main­tain diplo­matic re­la­tions with Is­rael. Yet Char­lie Wil­son, the late con­gress­man and lob­by­ist, whose ac­tions helped en­able Osama Bin Laden, is re­mem­bered as a great friend of Is­rael, and did lob­by­ing for them. Ge­orge Crile, the jour­nal­ist friend ofWil­son who wrote the book “Char­lie'sWar” is the grand­son of Dr. Ge­orgeWash­ing­ton Crile, a founder of the Cleve­land Clinic, where key Saudi lead­ers re­ceive med­i­cal care. But un­like the Saudis, Pak­istan has never had anAmer­i­can friend like the late Cleve­land­Clinic car­di­ol­o­gist Dr. Don Ef­fler they can trust their hearts with. Even John McCain, one con­sid­ered a fair bro­ker, has seen his cred­i­bil­ity wane thanks to cur­rent Re­pub­li­can faib­lesse in for­eign af­fairs con­ducted through of­fi­cial chan­nels and has faded into the back­ground. Then too, Saudi dis­dain at the high­est lev­els for the cur­rent elected civil­ian lead­ers in Pak­istan, and the impact of Saudi in­flu­ence on lo­cal civil-mil­i­tary re­la­tions in Pak­istan, must be fac­tored into the power equa­tion when cal­cu­lat­ing the per­am­e­ters of a new paradigm. With Wash­ing­ton and its NATO al­lies and the in­flu­en­tial US-Is­rael lobby pos­tur­ing war, the ideas that ap­pear in heav­ily re­dated so­cial meida and pub­lic diplo­macy sub­com­mu­nity con­ver­sa­tions tend to get fil­tered out of the re­alpoli­tik of the power curve, mak­ing it more difficult for Pak­istan to pro­ject a new vi­sion that could cause Gen­eral Dempsey and other se­nior op­er­a­tors to put a more pos­i­tive spin on the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion. The world has for­got­ten that Jewish-Amer­i­can diplo­mat Richard Hol­brooke trusted a Pak­istani sur­geon with his heart. And while

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