The HKS Citizen (Harvard Kennedy School)
October 26, 2010
By Sanjeev Bery
Photo by Martha Stewart
Alternating between criticism and praise, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi spoke about US-Pakistan relations at the Harvard Kennedy School on Monday, October 18th. Qureshi was at HKS on the eve of a US-Pakistan strategic dialogue with senior US officials in Washington DC.
In his comments, Qureshi offered blunt criticism of the history of US foreign policy towards Pakistan. “We see half a century of indisputable, empirical evidence of the US dancing with dictators who subverted human rights, using our people and soldiers as surrogates in proxy wars,” he stated.
The Huffington Post
Posted: November 5, 2009
By Sanjeev Bery
It is time to set aside the notion that U.S. drone missile attacks in Pakistan are some kind of secret. The pretense of secrecy has saved Obama Administration officials from having to publicly defend the military tactic.
But when Pakistani college students, think tank scholars, and New York Times reporters are all talking about this issue, U.S. officials should stop pretending that there is anything classified about it. Continue reading
From Tufts Journal, September 23, 2009:
It’s a situation Andrew Wilder, F89, F96, knows all too well. A research director for the Feinstein International Center since early 2007, he managed humanitarian aid and development programs in Afghanistan and Pakistan for 10 years … Born and raised in Pakistan, Wilder came to the United States to attend college.
According to Wilder:
The more money we try to spend in this environment, which has very limited human resources and institutional capacity, inevitably money overflows into the pockets of corrupt officials. Our aid programs are actually fueling the corruption, which is de-legitimizing the government, which is fueling instability.
Below is the text of my posted comment at ForeignPolicy.com responding to Bernard I. Finel’s Ten Questions about Afghanistan.
America’s Moral Responsibility in Afghanistan
Thank you for posing some tough questions that deserve deeper discussion. To complicate matters, I would like focus a bit more on your question six — the nature of America’s “moral obligation” to protect, among others, Afghan women from Taliban oppression.
The fear of a return to Taliban misogyny should be weighed against the reality of significant misogyny in the policies being put forward by the Karzai government. After all, it was the Western-backed Afghanistan regime that recently produced legislation allowing husbands to starve sexually unwilling wives.
Over at ForeignPolicy.com, Bernard I. Finel at the American Security Project asks Ten Questions about Afghanistan that deserve discussion. Here’s one:
Many proponents of escalation in Afghanistan highlight the American moral obligation to the Afghan people, in particular to Afghan women certain to be oppressed by a Taliban resurgence and the large number of men and women who have worked with American forces who would likely be targeted for retribution. What is the nature of this moral obligation? Is it absolute? Are there steps we could take to mitigate the consequences short of providing a permanent guarantee of human rights in the country?
It isn’t a pleasant question. In asking it, we must also keep in mind that it was the Western-backed Karzai government that produced legislation allowing husbands to starve sexually unwilling wives. So in considering our moral obligation, we should also remember that U.S.-backed Afghan elites are making their own deals within the same misogynist political culture. In effect, the U.S. goal of building a stable, non-Taliban Afghan regime may itself result in a perpetuation of misogynist governance and human rights violations.
The Guardian (UK) has done a video report on how U.S. soldiers feel about the Afghan soldiers they are tasked with building into an army. The piece hints at a broader reality: it is a bit difficult to build a national military on another nation’s behalf.
Supervising Afghan soldier to reporter (translated):
This army is really upsetting me now. In fact, you can’t really call it an army at all. I’m just losing interest in it. But what can we do?
Al Qaeda and the “war on terror” seem to be the ultimate linguistic props. Now you see them, now you don’t.
First, the disappearance — the Washington Post reports in late March on the new name for the “war on terror”:
In a memo e-mailed this week to Pentagon staff members, the Defense Department’s office of security review noted that “this administration prefers to avoid using the term ‘Long War’ or ‘Global War on Terror’ [GWOT.] Please use ‘Overseas Contingency Operation.’ “
Then, the reappearance — President Obama speaking on Afghanistan at a NATO summit a week later:
“France recognises that having al-Qaeda operate safe havens that can be used to launch attacks is a threat not just to the United States but to Europe… In fact it is probably more likely that al-Qaeda would be able to launch a serious terrorist attack in Europe than in the United States because of proximity.”
At least we are getting some variety. Under the Bush Administration, it was all Al Qaeda, all the time.