Cross-Blog Conversation on the Pakistan F-16 Saleon March 26, 2005 at 12:00 am
A post at Dawn’s Early Light is hosting an emerging discussion on America’s planned arms sale to Pakistan. Pakistan, a truly terrible country, has its army working under rules of engagement that allows it to kill Americans. South Dakota’s own Larry Pressler condemned the sale earlier. In this blog, DEL’s Bill wrote:
The US agreement to sell F-16s to Pakistan is the opening public gambit in the US bid to strengthen Indian-US relations. I know this sounds completely backwards, but if you would indulge my argument I think you may find it interesting (http://dawnsearlylight.blogs.com/del/2005/03/del_makes_a_…)
Counting an update, there are already three comments. My first thoughts:
- Nitin is right that the China-Pakistan angle is important, but he misunderstands it. PRC-IRP-USA have an old working-alliance going back to Nixon. During the closing decades of the cold war the three worked together to check Soviet power. Nor is America overly concerned about Chinese acquiring technology — Israel regularly works with China as an American proxy. I think Bush’s care for Pakistan relates to this, and particularly the concern that if America abandons Pakistan it will reinforce a Beijing-Islamabad axis.
- Robert is right that Rice is courting regional powers. But this was Powell’s aim too, and he was very successful at it. Under GWB America never had better relationships with Russia, India, China, or Japan. It’s this tradition which makes the Pakistan sale otherwise puzzling.
- We have to be careful with talk of “containment.” Bush is clearly trying to create a sustainable balance to China. But China is emerging as a force for good. Hedging our bets is not containment.
- Bush’s generally pro-democracy push also makes the sale strange. Pakistan is a terrible country, combining North Korean proliferation with Saudi repression with BS Saudi-style diplomacy. If America would be able to secure nuclear installations an Islamist government would be a step up from Musharraf.
I’m with Dan. The first assumption that needs addressing is whether China is a competitor or a potential ally. It’s early days but the latter is more likely, especially given the closer economic ties betweent the two. Next is dealing with “rising India” – in that you’re right that Rice is playing the next decade’s game. Also China and India recognise each other’s rise and our currently undergoing a rapid rapproachment over such issues as the border and Tibet. It’s not about containment, it’s about strategic balance.