Pakistan Moves East

Franz-Stefan Gady

Cutting military and economic assistance to a country in crisis is generally seen as a failure of foreign policy. Such imperial hubris can lead to a miscalculation of national interests and leave a power vacuum. In February 1947, however, when Britain announced it could no longer support Greek nationalist forces against the communists, the United States was ready to step in, fearing a communist takeover. The mutual concern of the United States and Britain to contain communism made it possible for the Attlee government to step aside and for Truman to move in. Today, another such confluence of interests exists in Pakistan: China and the United States have a vested interest in containing violent Islamic extremism.

With the recent killing of Osama Bin Laden and the uncertainty of Pakistan’s role, some U.S. lawmakers are questioning the wisdom of continuing the multibillion dollar civilian and military aid program to Islamabad. Amidst a struggling economy, high unemployment and global commitments, should the United States cut its aid and let China fill the void?

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