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The More Things Change, Pakistan Edition

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee's Kerry-Lugar aid bill for Pakistan vows to extract more accountability and transparency from Islamabad in return for another $1.5 billion in American aid. It's a worthy goal. But it's worth pausing to consider what a long, uphill battle this has already been. Let's flash back to November 18, 2007:

With the Pakistani government in turmoil, senior Pentagon officials are quietly moving to overhaul the system of massive U.S. military aid to the country by more directly tying the payments to Islamabad's success in combating Islamic militants.

The steps would fundamentally change one of the Bush administration's signature relationships of the post-Sept. 11 era, when it forged an alliance with the military regime of President Pervez Musharraf against Islamic extremists and began providing huge sums with little oversight.

That was military aid, and this is foreign aid. Still, getting tough never seems to work out so well. Maybe because Pakistan constantly demands we attach no strings to our aid and we constantly give in to their demands, because cutting them off isn't a very plausible option.

--Michael Crowley