Friday, October 31, 2008

Sound advice

If I lived in the United States, I would probably have a different perspective on the US election. As it stands, I am less than thrilled with Obama, who seems hell-bent on intensifying combat in Afghanistan, and perhaps supports its expansion into Pakistan. McCain, for his part, hasn't contradicted such a strategy on anything other than a public-relations basis; he won't say it's wrong, but he doesn't think Obama should talk about it. If I lived in the United States, I might find some reason to believe that Obama wasn't going to turn even more of the federal government's functions over to private stakeholders.

Since I don't live in the United States, though, I think the advice of Hasan Zaidi, writing in Dawn, is particularly wise:

. . . The point is this: it really does not matter to us which party is in power in the US. American interests — or at least the perception of American interests — is what drives American policy towards Pakistan, or anywhere else in the world. We would do well to remember that it was under Bill Clinton that American cruise missiles hit Afghanistan for the first time, and a most crippling economic embargo was imposed on Iraq that reportedly led to the death of hundreds of thousands of children. The differences between the Republicans and Democrats are limited to their domestic arena, and at best to the style of international diplomacy. Yes, Obama being quite possibly the first black president does send a good message to the world about America. Yes, his early schooling in Muslim lands may give him a better understanding of cultures other than American.

But to believe that his ethnicity, his parentage or his party affiliations are going to fundamentally alter real American geopolitical interests with regards to places such as Russia, China, the Middle East or Central Asia is to live in a make-believe world. It’s time Pakistan’s media woke up, and as Americans are fond of saying, ‘smelled the coffee’.

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