Kafka Stays Dry in Pakistan

The New York Times cedes most of its op-ed space to Pakistani author Ali Sethi, who provides a harrowing eyewitness account of the floods still sweeping through the country. In addition to detailing the plight of the starving and homeless, he captures the Kafkaesque role played by the military. The military and a landowning politician, to cite one example, are more interested in diverting the oncoming rush of water from a military base (likely housing U.S. drones) than protecting the population living in harm’s way. Sethi also provides a snapshot of the violence between Pakistanis that has racked the nation: as villagers flee the scene, Baluch separatists hijack vehicles and kill any Punjabi occupants. Meanwhile, he says, the Western media’s emphasis on fear that Islamic charities are capitalizing on the disaster is only reinforcing “demand for a strongman” to step in and clean up. Sethi offers a withering indictment of the Pakistani political and military establishment as well as their “constant American financiers.” To learn more about the forces rending Pakistan apart, see Ahmed Rashid’s article in the new issue of The National Interest.

And the Times editors have harsh words for Afghanistan’s leadership. The editorial takes Afghan President Hamid Karzai to task for his recent role in securing the release of an aide strongly suspected of corruption. With Americans “fast losing patience” and Afghans thinking their government “corrupt and unreliable,” the editors write, “there is almost no hope of driving back the Taliban.”

Washington Post columnist David Ignatius, after mentioning his discussions with Deputy Secretary of Defense William Lynn III, warns that the emerging military-industrial complex in cyberspace “is not what this traumatized country needs.” And George Will tackles the upcoming Middle East peace talks in his column, raising the specter of frappuccino-sipping State Department ninnies and burning World Trade Center cigarette lighters to make his point that “the biggest threat to peace might be the peace process.”

In the Wall Street Journal, American Enterprise Institute teammates Gary Schmitt and Cheryl Miller consider the quickly fading concept of the civilian-soldier. With fewer Americans having any connection to the military and fewer ROTC programs on college campuses, they warn that the military is becoming less reflective of the nation and “geographically and culturally” homogenous.