Monday, December 5, 2011
Since I believe that bureaucratic politics is usually the best way to understand what happens in U.S. foreign policy, I was pleased to see an excellent example of the influence in today's Washington Post. In an article on Pakistan policy, Karen De Young and Karin Brulliard report that the State and Defense Departments have different goals that repeatedly clash in practice. State wants to strengthen the civilian government and try to improve America's lousy standing in public opinion. The Pentagon and intelligence community are concerned primarily with counter-terrorism missions and want to continue help to the Pakistani military. In part, the problem is short term versus long term goals, but it's also a clash between tolerating Pakistani misbehavior or punishing officials. No easy answers, but it's useful to see that each U.S. entity has good reasons for its actions.