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Where are the Pakistan hawks?


There's been a growing realization in the U.S. that Pakistan is ultimately not going to change what it views as its fundamental national interests to suit Washington's desire to shore-up a (relatively) Taliban-free Afghanistan. This leaves the U.S. with two basic options. The first is to change the tone of its relationship with Pakistan, by threatening or actually cutting off U.S. aid and perhaps even using military force more overtly in the tribal region. This option - as outlined here a bit by Steven Metz - essentially argues that Pakistan better start fearing the U.S. more than India.

The second option would be to accept that some Pakistan/Taliban influence inside Afghanistan is inevitable and cut some kind of deal with the Taliban, which appears to be what the administration is doing.

The odd thing to note about this is how so few self-styled hawks have thus far come out in favor of the first option. During the Iraq war, we frequently heard demands to bomb Iran to disrupt its support for terrorists attacking U.S. troops. But Pakistani support for lethal insurgent groups in Afghanistan is similarly pervasive.

Indeed, there's a vast disconnect between how self-styled hawks treat Iran and Pakistan. Up and down the line Pakistan has been the more egregious transgressor on the things hawks say they care about: from developing nuclear weapons, proliferating nuclear weapons, harboring, training and sponsoring Islamist terrorist networks, supporting (however indirectly) attacks on U.S. troops in Afghanistan, undermining America's regional goals, attacking a democratic ally, to enduring bouts of military dictatorship and on and on. Yet when it comes time for threats and bellicosity, the hawks get positively nuanced when dealing with Pakistan.

Mind you, that's not a bad thing. It's just a bit odd.