Pakistan on the Brain

Pakistan takes up over half of the New York Times editorial page, as the newspaper issues a call for aid to help the country recover from the mind-boggling devastation being wreaked by flooding. “This is a battle for hearts and minds,” the Times warns, with the West competing against radical Islamic charities that have begun to provide food and shelter. In another editorial, the newspaper is pushing Congress “to pass a far bolder trade liberalization bill” that includes knocking down tariffs on Pakistani textile exports—a way to further help the rain-soaked nation.

In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, former defense and treasury policy adviser Marisa Porges also takes up the message, saying that it’s not just Islamic charities that have begun to help the Pakistani victims, but terrorist groups. Time is of the essence, Porges writes, and some Pakistanis “have already pledged their support to another team.”

The Washington Post’s editors have other things on their minds (although the front page has a stark reminder of Pakistan’s displaced families). They agree with General David Petraeus’s message about the need for success in Afghanistan, but contend that it should be President Obama delivering that message “repeatedly,” instead of sending his commander-cum-spokesman to the media.

The Post also carries two op-eds by high-profile pundits. Former Israel-Palestine negotiator Aaron David Miller says “the payoff” in terms of “promoting interfaith dialogue” by allowing a mosque to be built near Ground Zero will be too small to risk meddling “in our tragic memories” of 9/11. He compares the mosque situation to his own 1998 proposal to invite Yasser Arafat to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, which he calls “one of the dumbest ideas in the annals of U.S. foreign policy.” And when Israel gets attention, Iran is usually not far behind. Council on Foreign Relations fellow Ray Takeyh gives a revisionist account of Operation Ajax, the CIA venture blamed for reinstating Iran’s shah in 1953. In fact, he writes, recent declassified documents prove that the CIA plan completely unraveled before it got started, and U.S. officials were watching the subsequent events more as “surprised observers than active instigators.” Takeyh says those responsible for ruining that democratic movement back then were the mullahs—just like they did last summer.