Something is rotten in a statement by President Obama in his war speech at West Point.
"In the past," he said, "we too often defined our relationship with Pakistan narrowly. Those days are over. Moving forward, we are committed to a partnership with Pakistan that is built on a foundation of mutual interests, mutual respect, and mutual trust. We will strengthen Pakistan’s capacity to target those groups that threaten our countries, and have made it clear that we cannot tolerate a safe-haven for terrorists whose location is known, and whose intentions are clear."
None of the 30,000 new troops he has committed to the war in Afghanistan can legally be deployed to Pakistan. U.S. operations there are strictly CIA.
The same CIA that was in charge of our operations in Vietnam before we decided to start sending "military advisers" there. The same CIA that in February of 1963 told President Kennedy:
We believe that Communist progress has been blunted and that the situation is improving. . . . Improvements which have occurred during the past year now indicate that the Viet Cong can be contained militarily and that further progress can be made in expanding the area of government control and in creating greater security in the countryside.
More than 58,000 combat deaths later, we finally pulled out of Vietnam.
Afghanistan is not Vietnam, Mr. Obama told us, asserting that we have a coalition of allies supporting the Afghanistan effort whereas we acted unilaterally in Vietnam. In support of Mr. Obama's surge, NATO nations have offered 5,000 more troops, mainly in small increments from small nations like Albania. OK, that's multilateral in the strictest sense of the word, but not exactly a ringing endorsement of the "new" strategy, which sounds a lot like the old one. Neither France nor Germany, for example, promised any fresh troops.
What's new in Obama's strategy is the ominous little paragraph about Pakistan.
How, pray, shall we build this "partnership with Pakistan that is built on a foundation of mutual interests, mutual respect, and mutual trust?"
By expanding the CIA's secret program of attack drones raining terror on Pakistani civilians? Our government proclaims that these robot attacks have killed nine of the top 20 al Qaeda leaders hiding in Pakistan. It does not tell us that in the same time, 687 Pakistani civilians have been killed by the drones, a roughly 50-to-1 ratio of innocents killed to bad guys killed. One suspects that this sort of thing fosters neither mutual interests, mutual respect nor mutual trust.
The hard fact is that Pakistan does not trust the United States and nothing in the new Afghan policies seems designed to change that fact.
Exactly what "days are over" then?
"We cannot tolerate a safe-haven for terrorists whose location is known, and whose intentions are clear." Is that a thinly-veiled threat to a nuclear-armed nation whose people are already suspicious of anything American?
"Further progress can be made in expanding the area of government control and in creating greater security in the countryside," the CIA said 46 years ago about Vietnam.
"America is providing substantial resources to support Pakistan’s democracy and development," President Obama said Tuesday.
"Invest in companies that make prosthetics," a friend advised me after listening to Mr. Obama's war speech. "Our military will be needing a lot of them."
Shall I invest in casket-makers, as well?
Something is rotten.