Friday, October 01, 2010 10:47 AM
The Guardian reports on another futile, see-no-Islam idea, courtesy Uncle Sam: buying Pakistani hearts and minds with humanitarian flood relief:
The Chinook helicopters, travelling in pairs, swooped and curled between the lush valley walls of the Hindu Kush. The aftermath of Pakistan's epic flood scrolled underneath: torn bridges, crushed houses, entire fields swept away by the racing waters.
Inside the helicopters about 70 highland peasants, mostly fathers and their sons, gripping one another in terror and wonderment. Some poked fingers in their ears against the deafening engine roar; others peered out of the open hatch, awestruck – they had never seen their homeland like this before.
Rule of Islam: Women and girl children, LAST.
At a small military base the villagers stumbled out of the Chinooks, clothes pressed to their skin by the powerful rotorwash. Then their rescuers – silent American soldiers in black, bug-like helmets, eyes hidden behind mysterious looking black visors, turned around and headed back up the valley for more.
The US has spent $362m (£229m) on flood aid, dispatching 26 helicopters to deliver food and evacuate stranded villagers in Swat and Sindh. Some of the choppers have been flown in from Alaska, others hop off an aircraft carrier, the USS Peleliu, anchored in the Arabian Sea. Between four and six cargo aircraft arrive with more aid every day.
The Americans say their airlift is a mercy mission – "When all those children come running to us, it just makes my heart drop," said Specialist Eric Schmidt, one of the Chinook-borne soldiers – but it also has a strategic component.
I.e., Poindexter strikes again.
Americans are despised across Pakistan, with the latest Pew survey showing that 60% of Pakistanis view them as an enemy. The American embassy in Islamabad is churning out press releases about the assistance, hoping to make a dent in that figure. "We want to get the good news out," says one press officer.
Is naivete a firing offense?
On the ground, though, it is not so easy. Co-operation with their Pakistani counterparts can be stiff, even tense. Americans are not allowed to carry guns; so the only weapons are borne by Pakistani commandos.
Who ordered Americans not to carry guns -- and who obeyed the order? This demotes US soldiers into dhimmi.
At Ghazi airbase a Pakistani sentry said he admired the money and resources they brought to the aid effort. "But what they really want is to take our nuclear bombs," he added.
Well, now that you mention it ...
In the choppers US soldiers wear helmet patches commemorating other soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, wars that are viewed with great hostility in Pakistan. ...
Good thing we're "allies," though.
But gratitude to America has risen. ...
Here is what passes for an example of such gratitude:
"We don't like the drones when they target innocents," said Izhar Ali, an 18-year-old student. "But our people need help now, and we don't care where it comes from."
Kind of gives you a warm feeling ...
Will the flood make the Americans more popular? The precedents are not encouraging. After the 2005 earthquake the US military also dispatched a fleet of Chinooks into the mountains. A year later, US popularity ratings nudged up by four points.
But 12 months after that, as the Bush administration clung to the floundering dictator Pervez Musharraf, the numbers plunged to their lowest level since 2001. In Pakistan, there are some things that aid just cannot fix.
Ain't it the truth, but too bad the Guardian doesn't say what they are begining with this: 79 percent of Pakistanis favor the strict application of sharia in Islamic countries. That puts gratitude to infidels against the (Islamic) law.