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Wednesday, October 20

Newshoggers on Pakistan and U.S. "Military-Industrial Welfare"

Steve Hynd at Newshoggers coined the term while describing the self-defeating practice of the U.S. giving money to Pakistan's military for anti-terrorism purposes. I'm green with envy. "Military-Industrial Welfare" is so much pithier than my unwieldy "First use a sieve to empty the bathtub then turn the tub faucet on full blast."

But the idea of MIW is not just for the U.S. military to help fund terrorism and support repressive regimes. No, the welfare aspect of the U.S. military's financial aid program to foreign militaries is so they can buy U.S.-made defense equipment. The sales bring enough profits to U.S. defense manufacturers so that they don't have to relocate plants to Sri Lanka or North Korea, which means keeping many Americans in a job so they don't have to go on the dole.

However, there is a crucial point that the UPI report Newshoggers links to does not mention, and neither does the American official UPI quotes:
The $2 billion package [to Pakistan] is in addition to the billions of dollars the United States provides Pakistan in military aid and a five-year, $7.5 billion aid package in non-military counter-terrorism assistance approved by Congress last year.

"They key is to beef up their ability to go after militants, it can't be diverted to other threats," one senior U.S. official said.
Once cash is received by a donor government it becomes the property of the recipient government. I've mentioned the Catch-22 before, and the same point is covered in a 2009 Belfer Center paper that Newshoggers links to:
Pakistan is one of only four countries to receive direct cash transfers [from the USA]. Between 2002 and 2008, this “thank you” to Pakistan for help in fighting terrorism cost the U.S. taxpayer $2,374,000,000. By its nature, these cash transfers became Pakistani sovereign funds, precluding U.S. oversight.
By the way, there might be a grimly funny aspect to the Belfer Center paper, which is titled U.S. Aid to Pakistan: U.S. Taxpayers Have Funded Pakistani Corruption. The author, renaissance man Azeem Ibrahim, was apoplectic about the misuse of so much U.S. tax money when he wrote a column for Foreign Policy to summarize his research on the issue. Ibrahim is of Pakistani ancestry and holds dual citizenship in the USA and the UK but he was born and raised in Glasgow, Scotland and spends as much time as he can there with his family. The Scots are famous penny-pinchers.

The Newshoggers post links to additional blood-boiling reports about the Thelma-and- Louise relationship between the Pakistani and U.S. militaries, including a 2008 Guardian report citing that as much as 70 percent of U.S. military aid to Pakistan had been misspent. (I'm still waiting for the report from the World Bank on how all their development loans to Pakistan have been spent.) So if you're an American suffering from low blood pressure -- particularly if you're an American of Scottish ancestry -- you can save yourself a bundle on medication just by reading the Newshoggers post every morning.


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