Rules Are for Schmucks: Why Are We Selling F-16s to Pakistan?

This column appeared in the “Up Front” section of the May/June 2016 Humanist magazine.

“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.” This definition, often attributed to Albert Einstein, applies quite well to the Obama administration’s obsession with giving away our tax money to the Muslim failed state of Pakistan.

The latest episode is a bill whose title says it will provide “humanitarian aid” to Pakistan. Buried within it is a proposal to sell Pakistan eight more F-16 fighter jets—one of the most lethal machines on the planet. And not just sell them—the bill will make taxpayers subsidize the sale as well. Congressman Ted Poe (R-TX) had a field day with a State Department representative in a hearing last December over how exactly an F-16 qualifies as humanitarian aid. The video is pretty amusing—or it would be, if it weren’t for all the other images of Pakistan we’ve seen, like those of the March 27 bombing that killed seventy-three people at a Christian Easter picnic. The bombers selected a children’s park as their target.

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) was able to force a roll call vote on stripping all F-16 sales from the bill. He lost, 71-24, with both the Obama administration and the Senate Republican leadership aligned against him. But the roll call makes for interesting reading. The twenty-four senators who voted against more F-16s for Pakistan were evenly split, twelve Republicans and twelve Democrats. It’s not often you see Charles Grassley (R-IA) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) lined up on the same side of a controversial issue, but they were together on this one.

Paul’s stand was not entirely in vain. Another bipartisan team, comprised of Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) and Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), is exercising a senatorial privilege to place a “hold” on the taxpayer subsidy part of the plan. “Prohibiting a taxpayer subsidy sends a much-needed message to Pakistan that it needs to change its behavior,” said Corker.

The behavior that troubles Corker most is Pakistan’s continuing backchannel support for the Haqqani terror network wreaking so much havoc in Afghanistan. As he wrote in a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, “After years of pressuring the Pakistanis on this point, the Haqqani terrorists still enjoy freedom of movement, and possibly even support from the Pakistani government… many Pakistani activities are immensely problematic and point to a duplicitous partner, moving sideways rather than forward in resolving regional challenges.” When the U.S. finally located Osama bin Laden hiding out in Pakistan, no thanks to the government of Pakistan, we wisely did not inform that government before we acted. The helicopters we sent in to do the job had to race home afterwards to avoid being shot down by—you guessed it—F-16s we had previously sold to Pakistan. So now we’re going to sell them even more F-16s? Brilliant.

If we decide to go forward with the sale, maybe they’ll slap their foreheads and say “OK! We’ll stop supporting terrorism now!” But consider that we’ve already given Pakistan over twenty-eight billion dollars in aid since September 11 (most of it from the current administration), which has bought us the sorry state of affairs we have today. So let’s keep doing more of the same!

photo-by-gaborbaschConsider also that Pakistan has nuclear weapons. Just the day before the children were blown up on the playground, the Pakistani media was consumed with news of the state visit from President Rouhani of Iran. I wonder what those two were talking about? The possibility that America may have to take drastic action someday to prevent Pakistan’s nuclear weapons from falling into even worse hands is real. Even Shamila Chaudhary, who served as senior director for Pakistan and Afghanistan on the National Security Council from 2010 to 2011, now thinks the risk is growing. If we ever do have to act, what opposition will we confront? The Pakistani air force, which will now be another eight F-16s more powerful.

It’s not just Pakistan’s support for radical Islamic murderers in Afghanistan that is a problem, though. The regime we are propping up in Pakistan has one of the worst records in the world on suppression of freedom, especially religious freedom. Its blasphemy laws and other crackdowns on free speech are notorious. A fascinating item a couple of weeks ago describes a cabal of Pakistani lawyers who are instrumental in bringing all the blasphemy cases, many of which result in confiscation of the alleged blasphemer’s property. Any guess about what interests these lawyers?

Even worse, many would say, is the systemic mistreatment of Pakistani women. A comprehensive 2011 study named Pakistan the third most dangerous place on the planet for women, trailing only Congo and war-torn Afghanistan. Did you know that DNA cannot be used as primary evidence in Pakistani rape cases? Sharia law says you need four male witnesses, so four male witnesses it has to be.

By some estimates, more than sixty thousand Pakistanis have died in religious violence in the past twenty years. But statistics make the eyes glaze over. Instead, recall a story from earlier this year that epitomizes Pakistan. A Muslim preacher rhetorically asked anyone in a crowd to raise their hand if they didn’t love the prophet Muhammad. A fifteen-year-old boy, apparently mishearing the question, raised his hand. The preacher berated him so thoroughly for being a blasphemer that the traumatized boy ran home and cut off the hand he’d raised. And his father gushed about how proud he was of his fine son for cutting off such a hand! These are the people we’re selling more F-16s to.

This isn’t to say that there’s anything inferior about people who come from Pakistan. There isn’t. But this is a country founded on the premise of submission to Muslim God salesmen and that places so little stock in education that it has the second worst literacy rate in Asia (ahead of only Afghanistan). The people who are literate got that way by reading official textbooks with messages such as “Jews and Christians are enemies of the (Muslim) believers” and the “spread of Islam through jihad is a religious duty.” (Way to go, University of Nebraska, for producing and distributing these textbooks back in the 1980s to educate the generation now in power.)

Here’s a plan. Pakistan is one of only two countries in the world where polio remains endemic. (The other is Afghanistan—see a pattern?) The main reason for this is a Muslim hobby of murdering vaccine workers when they come to town. (See Mubasher Bukhari’s February 17 Reuters story.) So forget the F-16s, and any other hardware for the generals. Use that money instead to help them finish their vaccination campaign, decades after the rest of the world. If they need some muscle to help guard the vaccine workers, we can help with that too. I think Einstein would approve.