I will be the first to admit that I am more ignorant about world politics than I should be. As a middle-aged man capable of voting this year for the next duly elected leader of the "free world" it would behoove me to know more about the "rest" of the perhaps "not so free" world. What's brought me to this conclusion is my reading of Ahmed Rashid's Pakistan On The Brink: The Future of America, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.
This is the first book in a long while to make me feel deeply uninformed (or misinformed, perhaps) about something as essential as what my own country is doing in another part of the world — as well as what we are doing "to" another part of the world.
Seemingly right on the brink of truly being classified as a "failed state," Rashid paints a painful picture of a country run by an irresponsible elite that pays little (to no) taxes as its citizens grow ever poorer. Pakistan is a country ruled by its army that it gives an amazing (and amazingly unaccounted for) share of its budget that seems more concerned with an overriding hatred of neighboring India than dealing with the fantatical terrorist organization which calls Pakistan home, the Taliban.
… I'm from Louisiana. I thought I knew about bad politics.
President Obama, when he first took office, seemed like he actually meant to seriously attempt to "fix" things in this area, but that simply hasn't happened. I think our actions in the region have simply bolstered the Taliban's confidence and resulted in a fracturing of the group which has led to a separate "Taliban" that has made it a goal to destabilize Pakistan itself.
All in all Rashid seemingly paints a glum picture. At the conclusion of the book he does offer some advice that, on the surface, seems way too logical and reasonable to ever actually happen. Too many people have to come to their senses. Too many governments have to put their people first above themselves.