Monday, January 1, 2018

Trump's Godfather Doctrine: New Year's First Tweet Warning Pakistan

President Donald Trump began year 2018 with his very first tweet insulting and threatening Pakistan. Is this a continuing manifestation of what American foreign policy experts John Hulsman and Wes Mitchell call "The Godfather Doctrine"? Is Trump prepared to reject the US-created post World War II international institutional  framework? Is he ready to abandon diplomatic route and act unilaterally against a whole range of nations, including Pakistan, refusing to kowtow? Does he think threats and intimidation will work with other nations? Is Trump willing to make a transactional arrangement with Pakistan? Let's examine possible answers to these questions.


Post World War II International Order:

After winning the second world war, the United States led the creation of a new rules-based architecture that heavily favored the United States above all other nations. International institutions such as the United Nations (UN) and its various agencies, International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, World Trade Organization (WTO) and others to exercise power.

President Trump and his friends like Steve Bannon appear to be rejecting the value of this international framework created and sustained by his predecessors. Their preference is for transactional rather than strategic relationships with long-time US allies such as the Western Europeans and the Pakistanis.

Trump's Bilateral/Transactional Model:

Trump, a real estate developer, sees other nations like he saw his business partners, financiers and customers. Each deal is a transaction that must stand on its own. There's no such thing as "long term" or "strategic". Trump is willing to use intimidation and threats to try to get his way just as the Godfather movie character "Vito Corleone" tried. But he is rejecting renewing and using US-built international framework to deal with issues diplomatically.

Parallels with Vito Corleone:

As a superpower in relative decline like the Godfather in the movie, the United States faces a situation similar to the one Vito Corleone's sons Michael and Sonny and adopted son Tom Hagen, the consiglieri, faced right after the unexpected attack on the feared but aging Vito Corleone at the peak of his power that he built by an institutional framework that rewarded policemen, politicians, judges and competing crime bosses in New York City.

The elaborate international alliances and institutions that US has built over 60 years ago, such as UN Security Council, NATO, World Bank, OECD, WTO, IMF, IAEA etc, through which America exercises tremendous power and control, are being weakened by Donald Trump, and my guess is that these alliances and institutions will not survive as they are today. There will be a major realignment of nations, as the powerful new players, particularly China and Russia and other emerging powers such as India and Pakistan, demand greater say in world affairs.

US-Pakistan Transactional Relationship:

How can US and Pakistan negotiate an end to the current impasse if the Trump administration decides to cut whatever little aid Pakistan receives from the United States?  Pakistan could demand significant fees for the use of Pakistani territory by the United States to supply its troops. If the US refuses, Pakistan could simply cut off the NATO supply route as it did back in 2011 after the Salala incident.

Summary:

Trump appears to be opting for the "Godfather Doctrine" to make offers that he mistakenly believes no one can refuse. He rejects the the renewal or use of the US-sponsored international institutional framework.  Given the transactional nature of the relationships the Trump administration seeks, what would a transaction look like between President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi? It could be in the form of Pakistan continuing to allow the use of its airspace and land routes to supply US troops in Afghanistan for substantial fees that could add up to more than the US aid to Pakistan today. If the US balks at it, Pakistan could simply cut off US supply routes as it did back in 2011 after the Salala incident.

Here's a discussion related to this subject:

https://youtu.be/HRG45PAHpWw



Related Links:

Haq's Musings

What is the Haqqani Network?

Why is India Sponsoring Terror in Pakistan?

Mullah Mansoor Akhtar Killing in US Drone Strike

Gen Petraeus Debunks Charges of Pakistani Duplicity

Husain Haqqani vs Riaz Haq on India vs Pakistan

Impact of Trump's Top Picks on Pakistan

Husain Haqqani Advising Trump on Pakistan Policy?

Gall-Haqqani-Paul Narrative on Pakistan

Pakistan-China-Russia vs India-US-Japan

Robert Gates' Straight Talk on Pakistan

14 comments:

19640909rk said...

Dear Sir, absolutely disagree. Trump has spoken honestly the words, which previous presidents like Obama and Bush were too politically correct to speak out.

Monis R. said...

Need to document the economics and how the US saved money by giving to Pakistan in the NY Times.

Riaz Haq said...

19640909rk : "Trump has spoken honestly"


Just as honestly as he did when he claimed he saw Muslims celebrating 911 attacks in Jersey City.

And just as honestly as his recent retweets of staged anti-Muslim videos that were denounced by British and Dutch officials.

There's not an honest bone in Trump's body.

As to the truth about his claims re Pakistan supporting terrorists, here's what US General Petraeus said in 2016:

"I looked very very hard then (as US commander in Afghanistan) and again as CIA director at the nature of the relationship between the various (militant) groups in FATA and Baluchistan and the Pakistan Army and the ISI and I was never convinced of what certain journalists have alleged (about ISI support of militant groups in FATA).... I have talked to them (journalists) asked them what their sources are and I have not been able to come to grips with that based on what I know from these different positions (as US commander and CIA director)".

http://www.riazhaq.com/2016/11/gen-petraeus-debunks-allegations-of.html

On the question of nations being being honest and truthful to each other, here's former US Def Sec Robert Gates:

GATES: Well, first of all, I would say, based on 27 years in CIA and four and a half years in this job, most governments lie to each other. That's the way business gets done.

LEAHY: Do they also arrest the people that help us when they say they're allies?

GATES: Sometimes.

LEAHY: Not often.

GATES: And -- and sometimes they send people to spy on us, and they're our close allies. So...

LEAHY: And we give aid to them.

GATES: ... that's the real world that we deal with.

http://www.riazhaq.com/2011/06/straight-talk-by-gates-on-pakistan.html

Riaz Haq said...

Monis: "Need to document the economics and how the US saved money by giving to Pakistan in the NY Times"

I don’t think it’s really about economics; it’s about finding escape-goats for massive US failure in Afghanistan after fighting its longest war with no end in sight

Riaz Haq said...

Ryan Crocker, ex ambassador to #Afghanistan, #Pakistan and #Iraq, thinks Trump tweet on #Pakistan is counterproductive & doesn't think foreign policy team gets the whole picture

https://www.npr.org/2018/01/02/575028085/trump-has-upended-traditional-foreign-policy-whats-in-store-for-2018

Riaz Haq said...

#Trump Making #China Great Again. As Donald Trump surrenders #America’s global commitments, Xi Jinping is learning to pick up the pieces.

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/01/08/making-china-great-again

When the Chinese action movie “Wolf Warrior II” arrived in theatres, in July, it looked like a standard shoot-’em-up, with a lonesome hero and frequent explosions. Within two weeks, however, “Wolf Warrior II” had become the highest-grossing Chinese movie of all time. Some crowds gave it standing ovations; others sang the national anthem. In October, China selected it as its official entry in the foreign-language category of the Academy Awards.
The hero, Leng Feng, played by the action star Wu Jing (who also directed the film), is a veteran of the “wolf warriors,” special forces of the People’s Liberation Army. In retirement, he works as a guard in a fictional African country, on the frontier of China’s ventures abroad. A rebel army, backed by Western mercenaries, attempts to seize power, and the country is engulfed in civil war. Leng shepherds civilians to the gates of the Chinese Embassy, where the Ambassador wades into the battle and declares, “Stand down! We are Chinese! China and Africa are friends.” The rebels hold their fire, and survivors are spirited to safety aboard a Chinese battleship.
Leng rescues an American doctor, who tells him that the Marines will come to their aid. “But where are they now?” he asks her. She calls the American consulate and gets a recorded message: “Unfortunately, we are closed.” In the final battle, a villain, played by the American actor Frank Grillo, tells Leng, “People like you will always be inferior to people like me. Get used to it.” Leng beats the villain to death and replies, “That was fucking history.” The film closes with the image of a Chinese passport and the words “Don’t give up if you run into danger abroad. Please remember, a strong motherland will always have your back!”
When I moved to Beijing, in 2005, little of that story would have made sense to a Chinese audience. With doses of invention and schmalz, the movie draws on recent events. In 2015, China’s Navy conducted its first international evacuation, rescuing civilians from fighting in Yemen; last year, China opened its first overseas military base, in Djibouti. There has been a deeper development as well. For decades, Chinese nationalism revolved around victimhood: the bitter legacy of invasion and imperialism, and the memory of a China so weak that, at the end of the nineteenth century, the philosopher Liang Qichao called his country “the sick man of Asia.” “Wolf Warrior II” captures a new, muscular iteration of China’s self-narrative, much as Rambo’s heroics expressed the swagger of the Reagan era.

---------
Late one afternoon in November, I went to see a professor in Beijing who has studied the U.S. for a long time. America’s recent political turmoil has disoriented him. “I’m struggling with this a lot,” he said, and poured me a cup of tea. “I love the United States. I used to think that the multiculturalism of the U.S. might work here. But, if it doesn’t work there, then it won’t work here.” In his view, the original American bond is dissolving. “In the past, you kept together because of common values that you call freedom,” he said. Emerging in its place is a cynical, zero-sum politics, a return to blood and soil, which privileges interests above inspiration.
In that sense, he observed, the biggest surprise in the relationship between China and the United States is their similarity. In both countries, people who are infuriated by profound gaps in wealth and opportunity have pinned their hopes on nationalist, nostalgic leaders, who encourage them to visualize threats from the outside world. “China, Russia, and the U.S. are moving in the same direction,” he said. “They’re all trying to be great again.” ♦

Riaz Haq said...

There is little that is, or ever will be, new in #Trump’s #Pakistan policy. Why? Because #Pakistan has all the leverage over #Trump. #TrumpDumpsPak #Afghanistan

http://foreignpolicy.com/2018/01/03/pakistan-has-all-the-leverage-over-trump/

Even as the tweet continued to titillate Trump enthusiasts in India and at home, however, the responsible members of Trump’s government were strategizing how to roll it back. Later that same day, a White House National Security Council spokesperson explained what, specifically, to expect: “The United States does not plan to spend the $255 million in FY 2016 foreign military financing for Pakistan at this time.” This is not the sweeping cutoff that Trump implied in his braggadocios tweet.

In fact, there is little that is, or ever will be, new in Trump’s Pakistan policy.In fact, there is little that is, or ever will be, new in Trump’s Pakistan policy. That’s true for two simple reasons: the logistics of staying the course in Afghanistan and the night terrors triggered by imagining how terrifying Pakistan could be without American money.


---------------

Without an alternative port, the United States will have no choice but to continue working with Pakistan if it wants to remain engaged in Afghanistan, as Trump intends to do. (The proposed troop surge is now complete with about 14,000 U.S. troops in the country.) While Trump can tweet whatever he wants about Pakistan or Iran, the professionals on his staff know the truth: U.S. policy in Afghanistan requires a port with road or rail access to Afghanistan. This administration — like each one before — has cast its lot with Pakistan. And this administration will confront the same failures as its predecessors. Logistics will beat strategy every time.

Riaz Haq said...

Declining #US payments (from $2.6 billion in 2012 to $526m now) to #Pakistan translate into declining leverage over it. Pakistan with its #NATO supply lines now has more leverage over #Trump than vice versa.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/pakistan/the-decline-and-change-in-us-aid-to-pakistan/articleshow/62360594.cms …

https://twitter.com/haqsmusings/status/948790284346843137


Riaz Haq said...

#Trump's unfair attack on #Pakistan.. Actual disbursed #US funds to #Pakistan since 2001 are significantly less than the $33 Billion allocated and claimed by Trump. #TrumpDumpsPak #Afghanistan @CNN

http://www.cnn.com/2018/01/04/opinions/trump-pakistan-danger-opinion-jawaid/index.html

Facts matter. As does math. Trump's claim of "33 billion dollars in aid" is based on a number provided by the Congressional Research Service, which documents allocated aid -- but not actual dispersed funds. This figure is a sum of $19 billion in security and economic aid and an additional $14.59 billion from the Coalition Support Fund (CSF), which reimburses US allies for logistical and military support.

However, since 2001, according to USAID, the US has only given Pakistan $14.79 billion in civilian and military aid, and funds from the CSF have periodically been revised, delayed or blocked. Not all of the allocated funds have been disbursed, due to concerns regarding Pakistan's efforts to target Islamist militant groups, such as the Haqqani network, aligned with the Afghan Taliban and responsible for launching attacks in Afghanistan.

Riaz Haq said...

Trump's message: If Afghanistan isn't going well, Pakistan's to blame

Analysis by Nick Paton Walsh, CNN

Updated 10:19 AM ET, Fri January 5, 2018

http://www.cnn.com/2018/01/05/asia/trump-pakistan-analysis-walsh-intl/index.html

Afghanistan is experiencing its worst security crisis in perhaps more than a decade, with ISIS moving into its least stable areas. In the past week, Afghan officials reported that three French nationals were among a group of ISIS fighters killed by an airstrike.
US officials declined to comment on whether French nationals had managed to join ISIS's new redoubt, but ISIS are finding it easier to get a foothold in the country, partly because NATO allies are so utterly exhausted with trying to "win" in Afghanistan.

But you can't begin to win in Afghanistan unless youshave the assistance of Pakistan. Pressure on Pakistan is a keystone of something quite rare: an actual set of policy goals and objectives laid out by the Trump administration, specifically over how to "win" in Afghanistan.
It's been tried before: the Obama administration pushed Islamabad into military operations in its tribal border regions to crack down on the Pakistani Taliban, but also the Afghan Taliban and other militants the group sometimes shelters in its midst. The Obama White House offered billions worth of aid in an attempt to sway Pakistan's hand, and threatened -- often in the pages of the New York Times -- to reduce the funding if they didn't see results. Towards the end, they too froze some aid.
But the Trump administration is -- rhetorically at least -- protesting louder, freezing all aid not mandated by law, the State Department said Thursday. It's unclear exactly how much that effects, but here's what could happen now:

But the Trump administration is -- rhetorically at least -- protesting louder, freezing all aid not mandated by law, the State Department said Thursday. It's unclear exactly how much that effects, but here's what could happen now:
1. Pakistani officials dig in, taking the broader view that the Trump administration is a short-lived outlier in the global community, and deciding that they don't need to launch a massive and costly military operation in the tribal areas that will bring reprisals to their populated cities. They decide to live without the money, for now, cut off the land supply route into Afghanistan that the American operations there depend upon, and wait it out. Security in Afghanistan continues to worsen, and eventually the US tries to restore aid and relations to get Pakistan on side again.
2. Pakistan launches some short-lived and tokenistic operations against the Taliban and the Haqqani Network, which has been behind a lot of the more sophisticated attacks in Afghanistan. The US beings to pay the aid money again, and the Pakistani military elite -- who run a lot of the country and economy -- keep seeing the millions they depend upon. Not a huge amount changes, but the point is made, likely to the sacrifice of Pakistani lives.
3. There's a fudge: Pakistan keeps letting the US use the land route to resupply its 14,000 troops in Afghanistan (that's a very expensive 42,000 meals that would otherwise have to be flown daily into a landlocked country). The US slowly allows some "exceptions" to the aid ban to increase, and essentially most of the money keeps coming. But Trump has made his rhetorical point.
Related: Trump's White House chaos leaves world with room to breathe
Many of the key decision makers around Trump have personal history in Afghanistan. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis served there, as did National Security Advisor HR McMaster. Chief of Staff John Kelly's son -- a Marine -- died there.
The move to censure Pakistan may not be a new tactic for Washington, but it is steeped in these men's mutual shared past, and suggests a renewed focus on America's longest -- and ongoing -- war.

Riaz Haq said...

China’s aid to Pakistan aims for fundamental improvement in economic conditions
By Wang Jiamei Source:Global Times Published: 2018/1/7 23:43:39

http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1083768.shtml


China should pay more attention this year to the quality and effectiveness of its economic cooperation with and assistance to Pakistan, as ties are set to get closer amid hostility from the US.

After US President Donald Trump used Twitter to slam Pakistan for harboring terrorists, the US State Department said on Thursday that it would suspend security assistance to Pakistan until the country takes decisive action against the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network, according to Reuters.

As US aid to Pakistan has already been on the decline in recent years, the latter is reportedly concerned about the potential impact of this latest move on its fragile economy. While the US seems unlikely to impose comprehensive economic sanctions on Pakistan, its hostile attitude toward Pakistan is expected to exert certain pressure on the economy, especially for Pakistani companies with Iran-related business.

In these circumstances, it makes perfect sense for Pakistan to shift its foreign policy focus toward China and Russia. The day after Trump's strongly worded tweet, Pakistan's central bank announced that it will be replacing the US dollar with the yuan for bilateral trade and investment with China, a move seen as a clear signal of closer ties.

China will, of course, continue its economic support to Pakistan. China sees Pakistan as a prime partner under the Belt and Road initiative, with land and sea projects worth billions of dollars (known as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor) under construction. The key to China's cooperation with and assistance to Pakistan will be to improve the quality of bilateral cooperation so that relevant projects can boost the Pakistani economy as soon as possible.

It should be made clear that such China-Pakistan cooperation is not meant as competition for geopolitical advantage with the US, but to really help the Pakistani economy by strengthening its infrastructure. Sustainable economic development in Pakistan will play a positive role in stabilizing the geopolitical environment in South Asia, which will be conducive to overall regional development.

In addition, India needs to change its view of Pakistan. It is reported that the US move to cut aid to Pakistan was a result of India Prime Minister Narendra Modi's diplomacy, according to a tweet by BJP spokesperson GVL Narasimha Rao. This mindset of harming others without gaining any benefiting oneself will only aggravate the confrontation, dragging each other down.


Riaz Haq said...

Here's an excerpt of Pakistan-hating American analyst Christine Fair's piece in the Atlantic: "Pakistan Will Try to Make Trump Pay":
The country has banked on being treated as too dangerous to fail. But this time could be different.


https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2018/01/trump-pakistan/549887/

Pakistan likely suspects it has the upper hand, and for good reason: It has cultivated a global fear that it is too dangerous to fail. This is why many Americans have been afraid to break ties with Pakistan and have never encouraged the International Monetary Fund and other multilateral organizations to cut off the country and let Pakistan wallow in its own mess. Pakistan believes it has effectively bribed the international community with the specter that any instability could result in terrorists getting their hands on Pakistani nuclear technology, fissile materials, or a weapon. In fact, Pakistan has stoked these fears by having the world’s fastest-growing nuclear program, including of battlefield nuclear weapons. It is conceivable that Pakistan could use funds from a future IMF bailout to service its burgeoning Chinese debt.

Riaz Haq said...

THE EXPRESS TRIBUNE > OPINION
‘Constructive cooperation’
By M Ziauddin Published: January 13, 2018

https://tribune.com.pk/story/1607164/6-constructive-cooperation/

Without disagreeing with the main argument by President Trump for suspending security assistance to Pakistan, The New York Times editorial on January 6th had come up with a sane suggestion that the president “…marshal other diplomatic tools, to see if more constructive cooperation with Pakistan is possible.” Stressing the point further, the editorial made an even saner and timely proposal that the president “harness his new friendship with the leaders of Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates to shut down Haqqani and other Taliban fund-raising efforts in the Persian Gulf.”

The argument that the bulk of funding that the Haqqanis and other Taliban factions have been receiving all these years is coming from Saudi Arabia and the UAE has never been in doubt. The regional currency market operators have been processing these transactions like normal business for ages without batting an eye.

During Pakistan’s ‘lost decade’ of the 1990s the real rulers of the day had used these funds to finance their military operations as well as their efforts at governance. These flows have continued even after 9/11 but this time these funds have been going straight to the Afghan Taliban, including Haqqanis fleeing to safe sanctuaries in Pakistan in the aftermath of second Afghan war which is now in its 17th year.

-------------


So, if the US wants to see a quick end to the Haqqanis and other Taliban factions using Pakistani soil to launch their murderous operations inside Afghanistan, it will have to persuade Saudi Arabia and the UAE to effectively move against these fund raisers in their respective countries and forcibly turn off the clandestine tap that is sustaining the firepower of Haqqanis.

------------

And those in the US who believe Pakistan has effectively bribed the international community with the spectre that any instability could result in terrorists getting their hands on Pakistani nuclear technology, fissile materials, or a weapon are totally off the mark as well. It is not Pakistan but these misguided US political pundits who have cultivated a global fear that Pakistan is too dangerous to fail.

Indeed, even a complete stoppage of the US aid most of which has come in the form of grant or at concessional rates would not hurt the country’s economy seriously because the US has been siphoning back 99 cents from each of its aid dollar in the shape of consultancy fees, shipping charges and transfer pricing resorted to while importing goods and services from the US as per conditions hidden in the fine print of the aid agreements. So, the Chinese loans if not any more beneficial for Pakistan than the US grants, would not be any less beneficial as well.

Of course, Pakistan would be seriously hurt if the multilateral aid agencies under the influence of the US were to stop offering the country a helping hand in times of economic crises which we experience on a regular basis.

Riaz Haq said...

#Trump administration opposes #breastfeeding resolution, defends formula makers' corporate interests, intimidates sponsoring nations at the @UN affiliated World Health Assembly in #Geneva. #Ecuador #breastmilk https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/08/health/world-health-breastfeeding-ecuador-trump.html

A resolution to encourage breast-feeding was expected to be approved quickly and easily by the hundreds of government delegates who gathered this spring in Geneva for the United Nations-affiliated World Health Assembly.

Based on decades of research, the resolution says that mother’s milk is healthiest for children and countries should strive to limit the inaccurate or misleading marketing of breast milk substitutes.

Then the United States delegation, embracing the interests of infant formula manufacturers, upended the deliberations.

American officials sought to water down the resolution by removing language that called on governments to “protect, promote and support breast-feeding” and another passage that called on policymakers to restrict the promotion of food products that many experts say can have deleterious effects on young children.

----------

When that failed, they turned to threats, according to diplomats and government officials who took part in the discussions. Ecuador, which had planned to introduce the measure, was the first to find itself in the cross hairs.

The Americans were blunt: If Ecuador refused to drop the resolution, Washington would unleash punishing trade measures and withdraw crucial military aid. The Ecuadorean government quickly acquiesced.

--------------

The showdown over the issue was recounted by more than a dozen participants from several countries, many of whom requested anonymity because they feared retaliation from the United States.

Health advocates scrambled to find another sponsor for the resolution, but at least a dozen countries, most of them poor nations in Africa and Latin America, backed off, citing fears of retaliation, according to officials from Uruguay, Mexico and the United States.

“We were astonished, appalled and also saddened,” said Patti Rundall, the policy director of the British advocacy group Baby Milk Action, who has attended meetings of the assembly, the decision-making body of the World Health Organization, since the late 1980s.