US Strategic Opportunity in Pakistan Flooding Relief


e_picture-2_lahore-pakistan-flooding_ed.jpgGeorge Soros is working hard behind the scenes to help the Obama administration realize that a billion dollars spent now, carefully, and in a structure that could create a systemic improvement in Indus River water management helping India and Pakistan would be greatly welcomed by the currently besieged victims in Pakistan of historic-level flooding and help preempt a greater tilt towards instability in South Asia than already exists.
I won’t go into the detail of the Soros plan as it would be best if it became the Richard Holbrooke plan, or the Hillary Clinton plan, the Kerry-Lugar plan, or the Singh-Zardari plan, but I am satisfied that in contrast to so many schemes I hear in which people advocate a billion being thrown here or there — the critical need ‘now’ combined with a unique opportunity for the United States to constructively improve the lot over the near and long term of people who don’t think well of America makes great sense.
Now that we are spending monthly figures in Afghanistan that surpass $100 billion per year, it seems to me that a well-managed $1 billion investment in Pakistan would do much to improve the political environment in Afghanistan and Pakistan — large portions of the peoples of which respectively mistrust the U.S.
In the latest issue of the New Yorker, South Asia expert and New America Foundation president Steve Coll writes:

Pakistan’s floods–like the tsunami that swept across Indonesia’s northern provinces in 2004–threaten to set the country’s economic growth back by years. For the United States, preventing such an outcome should be recognized as a strategic as well as a humanitarian imperative. So far, the Obama Administration has displayed all the right instincts, by rushing relief to civilians, affirming the primacy of the country’s elected leaders, and galvanizing other governments to pitch in. As the waters recede, and the immediate crisis passes, however, the challenge will be to muster international investment to repair Pakistan’s infrastructure and catalyze its economic recovery.
The agricultural market towns in the flood zone–Ghotki, Jacobabad, Shahdadkot–are not notable breeding grounds for international terrorism. They are home instead to the marginal lives of another Pakistan, one poised for many years between aspiration and collapse–that of landless laborers, tenant farmers, bus drivers, and shopkeepers. These Pakistanis belong to no war party and live in peaceful indifference to the United States. To help reimagine their future, and that of their country, the place to begin is to come unconditionally to their aid.

Coll is right to identify this crisis as one with significant strategic consequence — and the U.S. would be smart to pivot quickly on this, which it has not yet done despite credible efforts by Richard Holbrooke to try and generate attention among his colleagues in the administration.
Lt. General John Allen, Deputy CENTCOM Commander, led the effort to provide relief after the December 2004 devastating tsunami in Southeast Asia.
John Allen might be the right Department of Defense point person to work with Holbrooke to help secure something along the lines George Soros is trying to stand up to both help current flood victims and create a preventive system for managing such crises in the future.
An added benefit along the way is that this effort could help build some much needed trust between Pakistan and India.
— Steve Clemons


16 comments on “US Strategic Opportunity in Pakistan Flooding Relief

  1. Muhammad Ilyas says:

    @corners Yeah you are right, when you say USA shold spend its dollars on its own country but unfortunately you are missing the link here. USA has more countries to cover other then US. Besides that how could you simply neglect the suffering people?


  2. corners says:

    Ya right, pissedoffamerican. Congress lets haliburton and these other no bid contract crooks get away but they are hot onto Roger Clemons tail for lying about taking steroids. Nice priorities congress.
    Get those lyers and crooks….. /end sarcasm.
    Taxpayers got pilfered billions from banks and other mega corporations and you are chasing a retired baseball pitcher for something he ingested on his own dime/time.


  3. corners says:

    Sure,give the people that hate us more of our tax dollars. Not because they are in need but because it can be a “Strategic Opportunity”.
    Do we ever learn our lesson about sticking our noses into closing doors?
    How about we spend a billion dollars on some bridges and roads here? Maybe some jobs? I know the bridge just down the street from my house is falling and could use some money. What about all the sports and after school activities being cut from our CHILDRENS schools? We still haven’t fixed our mess from Katrina and the oil spill that suddenly (yeah right…) disappeared and you want to send billions more to another middle east country that hates us


  4. osman says:

    wigwag, only way world can be saved is to dump
    fake currency dollar as soon as possible. Next
    step should be Asian Union with policy to nuke
    America if any soldier of America will put a foot
    anywhere in Asia. Also all energy and food
    supplies should be exported from Asia only if
    their own needs are satisfied. Also there should
    be provisions to reduce the birth rate of white
    people, because their skin is faltered (melanin),
    their morals are faltered, and they are a threat
    to non-white nations because it is very hard for a
    white ass to mind their own business and messed up
    lives. Moreover, we Asians have a responsibility
    to teach morals to cowboys Americans so that their
    proportion of non-bastards will rise a bit.
    Bastards grow up as sick people and get entangled
    into things like vaccines, and Haarp…


  5. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “I disagree with POA. That method is true now, but wasn’t true always”
    Irrelevent. Yesterday doesn’t mean jack shit to this issue.
    “The Peace Corp did wonders for America’s reputation, one American at a time. But just because our current crop of immoral and self-centered government officials do it wrong, doesn’t make infrastructure projects wrong to do”
    We aren’t putting the Peace Corps in place on large infrastructural projects, we are putting corporate criminals in place. So whats your point? We did it right once upon a time, so now that we are doing it wrong we should continue??
    “We can each individually contribute to changing the world by becoming a person who pursues being optimal in all areas of her life: being autonomous, in work consistently experiencing being productive, skilled, creative and contributing to our clients, in relationship repeatedly experience intimacy (richness and fullness), love (deeply valuing others), and dynamic communities (all the members repeatedly mutually empower each other), and having a life philosophy that is practical and works”
    Ohhhhhhmmmmm. Ohhhhmmmmmmm. Nam Myoho renge kyo……
    Ever tried chanting when someone is dumping white phosphorous on your head or fuckin’ ya out of your hard earned money by instituting giant governmental policies that you neither endorse nor benefit from?
    No. You’re wrong. These sacks of shit running the globe at this point of time would LOVE IT if you simply find an oak tree to smoke hash under while practicing your “do onto others” personal campaign of butterfly love.
    But the reality is that if we are to change it, we are going to need to get damned hard core, and take it to the streets in mass angry we’ve-had-enough protest. And sitting on the curbs with flowers stuffed in our butts while some fascist piece of shit deviant (that has been given waaaaaay too much power with waaaaay too little pyschological screening) drags us to a “free speech zone” ain’t gonna cut it.
    You might achieve some inner peace and tranquility with your sixties approach, (trust me, been there, done that), and I’m sure you’ll be a better neighbor, but unless you can get quite a few BILLION other human beings under your oak tree, you ain’t gonna change diddly squat in the over-all scheme of things. Hear that sound approaching? Thats a bulldozer, and if you’re sitting down, the driver ain’t even gonna see you, much less hear “squish” when he runs over you, your flower bed, and your bong.
    But I’m with you. Its a damned monstrous windmill, and I’m getting too old, and too tired, to joust.


  6. DonS says:

    “Hirsi Ali understands that the confrontation between Western Christians and secularists on the one hand and Islamists on the other really does belong under the rubric of Samuel Huntington


  7. Warren Metzler says:

    I disagree with POA. That method is true now, but wasn’t true always. The Peace Corp did wonders for America’s reputation, one American at a time. But just because our current crop of immoral and self-centered government officials do it wrong, doesn’t make infrastructure projects wrong to do.
    And I totally disagree with Hirsi Ali. The history of the world is a history of evolving consciousness; the latest one, sitting there inside everyone waiting for expression, is the knowledge that one can be optimal in every area of one’s life. The dysfunctional governments of Islamic governments are because Islam is anti-individual, anti-personal development; having a basic approach of following all the rules set up by Mohamed. Once the majority of the US people become enamored with this new consciousness, and as a result elect officials who no longer believe the government can do anything other than set up a basic administration of society, stopping permanently this large military, rule the world, consciousness, the rest of the world will progressive follow, and in time all will live as Francis Fukuyama predicted.
    Between now and then, we will continue to have major conflicts and natural upheavals.
    Further. The best way to cause radical Islam (Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, etc.) to disappear, is to give up trying to run the world, and give supporting corrupt governments, regardless of how many natural resources they control, or regardless of how much they support a foreign policy in one region (think Israel or Egypt), or regardless of how much money they possess (China). Nothing does more to encourage radicalism of any type than a major world power having a totally hypocritical policy.
    People, regardless of how poor and uneducated, are not naturally radical. They only become radical after they experience that all appears hopeless except for violence and totalitarian (fascist) philosophies. This have been demonstrated over and over again throughout history. When did you ever hear of suicide bombing before a major power did major oppression? Lebanon under Reagan, Iraq under Bush, and Afghanistan and Pakistan under Bush and Obama.
    We can each individually contribute to changing the world by becoming a person who pursues being optimal in all areas of her life: being autonomous, in work consistently experiencing being productive, skilled, creative and contributing to our clients, in relationship repeatedly experience intimacy (richness and fullness), love (deeply valuing others), and dynamic communities (all the members repeatedly mutually empower each other), and having a life philosophy that is practical and works.


  8. Don Bacon says:

    I wonder if WigWag also mischaracterized the Katrina tragedy as a dysfunctionality of the Christian world. Probably not.
    Hirsi Ali first concocts a “One World” illusion and then faults the Muslim world for not adhering to it.
    Then she resurrects what the late Harvard political scientist Samuel Huntington called the “Clash of Civilizations,” particularly the clash between Islam and the West (note the precedence). The fact is that any such “clash” has been instigated both historically (the Crusades) and currently (US/Israel invasions of Muslim lands) by the West.
    Then WigWag moves on “to the reinvigorated and violent activities of Islamists.” I think it’s clear that in terms of raw violence, the US/Israel team takes all honors. Nothing burns one up, painfully, like white phosphorous.
    A death sentence pronounced on Rushdie? Isn’t the man still with us? I guess Khomenei lacks drone aircraft with Hellfire rockets. There would be no need of a sentence, just give the order as Obama does and ‘poof” — no more Rushdie, and whomever is in his presence.
    Yes, the “The Flight of the Intellectuals” is in evidence.


  9. WigWag says:

    The dysfuntionality of the Muslim world so perfectly epitomized by the status of Pakistan is a subject that needs far more debate.
    Regardless of anything the United States does or does not do to help with Pakistan’s water management issues, Pakistan is likely to remain a failed state far into the future. In this regard, it is similar to so many others of the other 50 or so majority Muslim nations in the world.
    The one commentator who has a handle on this that is superior to virtually every other observer is Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Hirsi Ali understands that the confrontation between Western Christians and secularists on the one hand and Islamists on the other really does belong under the rubric of Samuel Huntington


  10. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Interesting that no one here seems to want to talk about the REALITY of American assistance to third world countries when it comes to infrastructure.
    Isn’t it a fact that what we usually do is send in American companies that provide substandard product at inflated prices, usually paid by the American taxpayer? Bechtel, Halliburton, etc, able to charge obscene amounts for garbage workmanship and un-performed or underperformed work, free from the constraints of competetive bidding, responsible oversight, or accountability for abuses, overcharges, and criminal negligence?
    Whats worse, no matter how badly these companies fuck us, the taxpayer, over, (and the country we are supposedly helping), these whoring sacks of shit in DC reward them with more contracts. What, it is a coincidence that most of the worms in Congress end up filthy rich?


  11. DonS says:

    Speaking of the chimera of infrastructure projects, the eternally disingenuous David Brooks, in his column today, finds much to laud in the nation building exercise called the new Iraq. It is incredible how the neocons, and neocon sympathizers can take a multidimensional disaster like Iraq and see only a very narrow range of happy ‘facts’. It is another wonderful example of tunnel vision so extreme that it ignores the fetid cesspool in which their happy facts swirl. Turning turds into treasures as it were.
    So how exactly are we to engage in policy discussion with such divergent realities. Iraq, and surrounding, cascading disasters, are simply folded into the melange of exceptionalist delusion. How come the sentient world — and maybe even Mr Obama in a lucid moment — sees a foreign policy disaster unparralled, and probably much greater than Vietnam in it’s repercussions?


  12. Warren Metzler says:

    I’m a big fan of infrastructure projects. Especially if the country in which they are located has the resources to maintain them. It is just that the mind-set of assuming infrastructure projects will be of value, when the providers of that infrastructure is maiming and killing citizens, and supporting corrupt governments, solely and only to create world environments dreamed up in the fantasies of “we control the world” fascists that seem to control American foreign policy (in the White House, Foggy Bottom, the Pentagon and the myriad of think tanks that abound in D.C.) fools no one. The typical Pakistani opinion maker already knows the saying, “watch the feet, not the mouth”. And until the US gives up this elementary school filled with testosterone crazy boy mind-set, and grows up to become reasonable and sound adults, it is a total waste of time. If we all just re-read “The Ugly American”, got the essence of its content, and gave up the above mentioned fantasies, we wouldn’t need to redeem our name and reputation.


  13. WigWag says:

    By all means, spend the billion or whatever it takes to help the Pakistanis with the flooding crisis and their longer term water management issues; they are experiencing a humanitarian disaster and they are entitled to the help. George Soros, despite the naivity of his politics does wonderful work and can be counted on to have an intelligent plan to help. But no one should deceive themselves into thinking that by helping the Pakistanis, the United States will get any credit from either the government or from the citzenry. With or without the aid, Pakistan will still be the same dysfunctional and paranoid nation spying conspiracies around every corner. Unitl Pakistan is dismembered as a country and divided into four or five nations based on ethnicity, it will continue to be poor, violent and backwards.
    Two things might be of interest to Washington Note readers. The incomparable Walter Russell Mead has recently returned from Pakistan and has written a number of insightful and valuable blog posts on Pakistan that can be found here (scroll down to the 2nd 4h and 5th posts),
    As long as Steve Clemons mentioned Steve Coll, Steve Coll will be appearing at the 92nd Street YMHA in New York City (92nd Street and Lexington Avenue) on Monday, September 13 at 7:30 pm. His guest will be Eliza Griswold, the author of a new book on the civil war between Muslims and Christians now taking place in both Asia and Africa. The book is called the “Tenth Parallel” and it is a must read for anyone who wants to weigh in intelligently on whether a war of civilizations between the West (represented by Christians and secularlists) and the global south (represented by Islamists) is inevitable. Griswold’s book is timely, smart, well-written and temperate. I’m actually going to try and fly up from Ft. Lauderdale to attend the lecture. More information on the program with Coll and Griswold can be found here,


  14. David Billington says:

    Sorry about the broken link in my previous post – if you select both
    lines and paste into browser search field, the National Geographic
    article should appear (there may be a brief ad to wait through).


  15. David Billington says:

    The problem in Pakistan seems to be overall river management:
    I’m not sure fixing this will be any easier that relieving the problem in
    our own country of settlement too close to flood-prone rivers. But if
    there any changes that a billion dollars could achieve and sustain, now
    could be a good time to invest that money.


  16. charlie says:

    Has anyone ever measured any long-term change to public
    perception based on these massive infrastructure plans?
    Do the Egyptians still like Russians because of Aswan? Or the
    Indians because of western help with IIT? Or the Pakis with the
    billions already wasted in their country?
    I suspect we are spending well over a billion dollars a year trucking
    supplies into Afghanistan — and that money goes straight into
    Pakistan. I think US cash being spent in Pakistan is probably equal
    to the entire dollar proceeds of the Indian IT firms. Are they
    grateful for that money?


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