Thursday, April 16, 2009

Extra! Extra! Make bad decisions; get paid for them.

The Taliban are cutting through Pakistan like a knife through butter; the Pakistani government has responded by ceding parts of the country to the terrorists and ignoring the extensive Talibanization of its intelligence service, military, and bureaucracy. David Kilcullen, former adviser General David Petraeus, recently said that Pakistan could collapse within six months; and February report from a task force chaired by no less than former Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel and Massachusetts Senator John Kerry said: “We are running out of time to help Pakistan change its present course toward increasing economic and political instability, and even ultimate failure.”

So, what is the Obama administration’s response? Throw US taxpayer money down the rat’s hole. Or in the words of one mainstream Indian journalist regarding US policy: “Terrorism pays!” Obama’s policies are alienating South Asian allies who are laying down their lives fighting the same Islamist enemy we face. They are enabling a Pakistani government that is using our tax dollars to fight our Indian friends; a government that is content to see its country thoroughly Talibanized and to come down on the wrong side of every international conflict, helping the people they are supposed to be fighting; a government that again has agreed to cede parts of the country to the Taliban and let Sharia become the law of those lands. And Obama’s actions tell the Islamists that they can continue “cleansing” Pakistan and Bangladesh of their Hindus, and we will not say a word.

The same philosophy underlies Obama’s foreign policy and domestic blunders. Pakistan’s difficulty is the product of bad and self-seeking decisions. For years, radical Islam has been making serious inroads throughout Pakistani society, but its leaders deliberately chose to ignore it. They did so partly out of fear—fear that radicals might assassinate them; fear that they might alienate a bloc of voters; fear that the radicals would successfully use their opposition to paint them as Zionists or pro-American. And they did so out of greed—greed for the graft that would continue flowing from the minions that were taking direction from the radicals; graft from the billions in petrodollars that were funding radical activities. They did so out of wishful thinking that the radicals would either fade away or join the ranks of other civil servants, more concerned with personal enrichment than any philosophy or social goal. And they did so in some cases because they agreed with the radicals’ short term goals. Now Obama is paying them for a promise (to undo the damage their bad decisions have wrought.

America’s crisis, like Pakistan’s, has an ideological component. The ultra-liberal Community Reinvestment Act forced banks to loan money to people who did not qualify for them with draconian consequences for any bank that dared stay with traditional mortgage criteria even if the applicant was a minority. There was also a greed component in the cushy roles and extensive contributions by lenders to Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) and Representative Barney Frank (D-MA) to ignore warnings about the system and use their positions to rubber stamp rather than oversee. But most importantly, our problems stem from bad decisions: bad decisions by the auto makers which turned once gold standard businesses into train wrecks; bad decisions by lenders to continue making bad loans; and bad decisions by home buyers to borrow more than they could repay and pretend that their incomes supported the lifestyles they demanded. And how has Obama “taught them a lesson”? By paying them for it.

Rewarding bad behavior—whether in Pakistan or the United States—will do only one thing and that is encourage more bad behavior. Obama did not tell the Pakistanis, “You knew Islamists were taking over your society but chose not to oppose them. Now, in order to get the aid we can offer and become a true ally, you have to change.” Nor did he tell those Americans who made bad business, lending, or borrowing decisions, “The one thing we will not do is enable your bad behavior with the money of Americans who made good decisions.” Instead, he has committed the United States to a policy that seeks to make the untenable viable; that promises not to force people to take responsibility for their bad decisions; that insures bad behavior will continue with regular rewards compliments of US taxpayers.

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Saturday, April 04, 2009

The Death Throes of Pakistan's Hindus

I just returned from a month in India during which time an incredible number of significant events were occurring. My primary mission in going was to document and raise awareness of the ethnic cleansing of Bangladeshi Hindus. I found plenty, including evidence of ongoing attacks on them both in Bangladesh and in West Bengal, India. The border between the two is so porous that terrorists and contraband move freely with and without the help of India's Border Security Force or West Bengal police. But I also witnessed the tragic beginning of the end for Pakistan's Hindus. Once one in five Pakistanis, they have been reduced to one percent of the population.

But as the Taliban take over ever larger chunks of that country, that remnant of a people is streaming across the border into Indian Punjab. The stream became a torrent with the Taliban's seizure of the Swat Valley earlier this year. Hindu refugees report attacks and threats by the Taliban, as well as officials telling them to leave the country "or else." The February agreement between the Taliban and the Zardari government ceded the area to the former and allowed Sharia law to be imposed on Swat's 1.2 million inhabitants.

President Obama has used this agreement as a model in his stated quest for "moderate Taliban." But not only does the agreement countersign ethnic cleansing, it also failed even before Obama's anticipated speech on US policy in the region. Just hours before the President spoke, one of the Taliban parties to the agreement, Tehrik e Taliban, abrogated it with a terror attack on a mosque in Pakistan's Northwest Frontier Province, and has engaged in other terrorist attacks subsequently.

One Hindi language channel quoted a Taliban spokesman confirming that his group was pulling out of the agreement not to attack elsewhere in Pakistan because, he said, it would be contrary to Allah's wishes to limit Sharia to the Swat Valley. Yet, no major media in India, the US, or elsewhere made this connection.

Even more shameful, no media or government has protested the ethnic cleansing of Pakistan's Hindus, who are being finished off by the Taliban. All governments involved in the region are just allowing it to happen,too. What kind of a world do we live in when India will not defend Hindus attacked for being Hindus; when the US ignores the atrocity; when not a single human rights group or the UN utters a word of protest?

What is happening to Pakistan's Hindus is a crime, but a crime that is largely accomplished. There remain 13,000,000 Hindus in Bangladesh subject to the same attacks, the same racist laws, and the same intention to eradicate them. Worse, the battle is spilling across the open border into India, and it is changing the demographic balance in the region. It is also allowing terrorists into the country whose intention is to undermine the very nation of Hindustan.

My mission is to prevent that, to prevent the murders and other atrocities, even if I am the only voice of protest to cry out about this crime against humanity.

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