Money Is Fungible: Pakistan Edition

Do you recall the aid we’ve been sending Pakistan so that the Pakistani government will let us supply our troops in Afghanistan via Pakistan, secure their nuclear weapons, and oppose the Taliban and Al Qaeda being harbored within Pakistan’s borders? Apparently, Pakistan is seizing the opportunity to build up its nuclear arsenal:

WASHINGTON — Members of Congress have been told in confidential briefings that Pakistan is rapidly adding to its nuclear arsenal even while racked by insurgency, raising questions on Capitol Hill about whether billions of dollars in proposed military aid might be diverted to Pakistan’s nuclear program.

Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, confirmed the assessment of the expanded arsenal in a one-word answer to a question on Thursday in the midst of lengthy Senate testimony. Sitting beside Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, he was asked whether he had seen evidence of an increase in the size of the Pakistani nuclear arsenal.

“Yes,” he said quickly, adding nothing, clearly cognizant of Pakistan’s sensitivity to any discussion about the country’s nuclear strategy or security.

So, let me see if I’ve got this right. We’re concerned about Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal so we’re giving money to the Pakistani government which in turn is using the money (remember, money is fungible) to build up the nuclear arsenal that we’re concerned about.

Well, at least the money’s being put to a good use. I’m sure the Indians will be thrilled.

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Dave Schuler
About Dave Schuler
Over the years Dave Schuler has worked as a martial arts instructor, a handyman, a musician, a cook, and a translator. He's owned his own company for the last thirty years and has a post-graduate degree in his field. He comes from a family of politicians, teachers, and vaudeville entertainers. All-in-all a pretty good preparation for blogging. He has contributed to OTB since November 2006 but mostly writes at his own blog, The Glittering Eye, which he started in March 2004.

Comments

  1. steve says:

    Damn. I wrote a post with almost the same title about an hour ago on my dinky site. Anyway, I think if you couple this with the apparent lack of concern by the Pakistani elites about the Taliban’s recent activity, it sure looks like we are being played. They have been adding to their nuclear capabilities all along while we have been giving them money. As log as we are concerned about the extremists getting to the nukes, they have a sure cash source.

    Pakistan is still much more concerned about India than what happens in the FATA. They are still seeing this as a US problem. If you read Kilcullen/Exum’s article this w/e, I think we need to stop the drones. Maybe we need to work the India side of the equation more?

    Steve

  2. Dave Schuler says:

    I suspect that the reaction of the Pakistani elites is what it is not so much because we’re being played (not that we aren’t) but that they are pampered, isolated, and, well, elite.

  3. legion says:

    Well, let’s see. We gave Pakistan a bunch of money, in return for difficult-to-quantify things like “goodwill” and “cooperation”, with no oversight or conditions. They then spent that money on things we didn’t expect/want them to, like nukes.

    We gave a bunch of money to banking institutions for difficult-to-quantify things like “being better banks”, with no oversight or conditions, and they spent that money on things we didn’t expect/want them to, like bonuses and acquisitions.

    Basically, the US gov’t (and I’m talking about the current admin, as well as the last one – hell, probably all of them) is incredibly stupid, incompetent, and corrupt when it comes to responsibly spending money. This news flash has been brought to you by the letter “duh”.

  4. Dave Schuler says:

    Basically, the US gov’t (and I’m talking about the current admin, as well as the last one – hell, probably all of them) is incredibly stupid, incompetent, and corrupt when it comes to responsibly spending money.

    There are several different ways of looking at this. The first way is that our guys (whoever “we” are) will do a much better job than the other guys. It flies in the face of experience but it’s the kneejerk reaction of partisans everywhere regardless of to which party they belong.

    The second way is conclude from this that we should have no government. Or, in its more reasonable form, that our government should be much smaller and more restricted than it is.

    The third way is to acknowledge that it’s the case but to consider it part of the cost of doing business in an imperfect world.

    The fourth is plain outright denial.

    I waver between reaction 2 and 3.

  5. legion says:

    Dave,
    My response is more along the lines of: We should actually have some transparency in our gov’t so we can see exactly who the idiots are and (one would hope) remove them from their positions of authority, replacing them with competent non-crooks.

    Unfortunately, I’m in kind of a cynical mood right now, so I don’t believe the American people actually have the intestinal fortitude or attention span to either hold anyone accountable for their failings or replace them, thus resulting in a functional acceptance of your option #3…

  6. Dave Schuler says:

    Once any bureaucracy reaches a certain threshold level of size and complexity it is ipso facto not transparent. You can make our government smaller. You can make it less complex. You can’t make it more transparent without making it smaller and less complex.

  7. […] Money Is Fungible: Pakistan Edition […]

  8. Grewgills says:

    Once any bureaucracy reaches a certain threshold level of size and complexity it is ipso facto not transparent.

    I agree that increasing the size of a bureaucracy tends to make it less transparent. That is not, however, the only factor.

    You can’t make it more transparent without making it smaller and less complex.

    That is one way to make government more transparent. Do you really think that we have done everything we can to make our government more transparent short of decreasing its size and complexity?