President Donald Trump’s promised “America First” policy has long been interpreted as a promise to put America’s priorities first over international commitments.
The Trump White House recently flexed “America First” muscles by deciding to suspend a security assistance package designed to help Pakistan.
In raw numbers, this decision has instantly saved the United States $255 million.
The decision comes after decades of Pakistani manipulation, especially in Afghanistan.
“We will not be delivering military equipment or transferring security funds to Pakistan unless it’s required by law,” said State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert on Thursday.
The Trump administration is angry at Pakistan for its inability (or unwillingness) to reduce the power of jihadist groups within the country.
The two most powerful–the Haqqani Network and the Pakistani Taliban–routinely conduct cross-border attacks in U.S.-occupied Afghanistan.
Even more importantly, Afghani jihadis often find shelter and succor in Pakistan, where the Inter-Services Intelligence Agency (ISI) has long been known as a major supporter of the Taliban as a bulwark against the power of the central state in Kabul.
“This is something that should not come as a surprise to Pakistan because the president, Secretary [of State Rex] Tillerson and [Defense] Secretary [Jim] Mattis had conversations with Pakistani officials alerting them to our concerns that Pakistan has not done enough to detain, to take care of — and when I say take care of, I mean round up — terrorists and militant groups operating out of Pakistan,” Nauert said while speaking about the president’s decision.
Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky suggested on Twitter that the $255 million previously designated for Pakistan should be used to fund infrastructure programs in the U.S.
President Trump called this suggestion a “good idea” on Twitter.
The decision to withhold foreign aid could be part of a larger pattern designed to reign in nominal U.S. allies who nevertheless support terrorist groups. Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are the two most obvious examples of such nations.
Hopefully, a financial crunch will force the Pakistani government to end its covert support for the Taliban and other groups.
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