Saturday, March 29, 2008

Uninvited Guests

Imagine, if you will, being in the middle of some rather contentious negotiations in a family dispute over the division of chores and the ownership of the remote when the door bell rings. Oh, no! It's Aunt Em and Uncle Fred from Indianapolis who just happened to be in the neighborhood and just knew you wouldn't mind them dropping in unannounced.

Now imagine that on the world stage. Let me make it a little easier for you: this article in yesterday's Globe and Mail (Canada) describes such a visit to Pakistan by some US diplomats.

Keep in mind that Pakistan just held some rather contentious elections, elections in which every segment of the population essentially rejected Bush's BFF Pervez Musharraf. No single party won enough votes to control Parliament and the government, so the various parties have been working to put together a coalition government to challenge President Musharraf's power. They're still working on it when, "Ding Dong!" John Negroponte appears at the door. Needless to say, the new Pakistani government was not amused.

The visit to Pakistan of top U.S. officials this week was supposed to cement ties with the country's incoming government. Instead, it ended up roiling local sensitivities and inadvertently showing up key policy differences.

Deputy secretary of state John Negroponte arrived for consultations even before the new government had a chance to form itself, fuelling paranoia in the country about being ruled from Washington. There is no foreign minister or interior minister yet, and the Prime Minister, Yousuf Raza Gilani, was only sworn into office on Wednesday.

However, there was enough interaction for one thing to be obvious: The rules have changed. Mr. Negroponte and assistant secretary of state Richard Boucher received a cold reception from politicians, highlighting the difference between dealing with an elected government and the military regime of President Pervez Musharraf.
[Emphasis added]

One Pakistani newspaper referred to the visit as being an example of "indecent haste."

But wait, there's more. Mr. Negroponte managed to alienate the people even further:

Mr. Negroponte saved his real clanger until the last. Just before he boarded a flight to leave yesterday, he pre-empted the new government's policy toward militants by warning that some were too extreme to engage in talks. All parties in the coalition have advocated negotiations without making any such distinctions.

"Security measures obviously are necessary when one is talking about dealing with irreconcilable elements who want to destroy our very way of life. I don't see how you can talk with those kind of people," he told a press conference.

And that, my friends, was not just an unintentional gaffe. That was a not so thinly veiled threat. At present, the US forces in Afghanistan have been chasing those militants into Pakistani territory without bothering to get any kind of permission from Pakistan. Mr. Negroponte wanted to make it clear that the US fully intends to continue these mini-invasions, new government or not.

Stupidity and evil make for a deadly mix.

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Blogger janinsanfran said...

Good catch.

I am not a Negroponte fan.

7:17 PM  

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