Sunday, April 17, 2011

Curious Alliances: Pakistan

Yet another uproar concerning events in Pakistan made me look up numbers. A drone attack killed 40 Pakistani civilians. Coinciding with this event a Pakistani court released a CIA official charged with shooting down two men at an intersection. He was released by the court after blood money had been paid to relatives of the two victims. The payment of blood money is legal in Pakistan—legal, yes, but the Pakistani street has a more, shall we say nuanced, understanding of such things and hence erupted.

These are very curious alliances. Consider for instance that in the period 2001 through 2008, $5.9 billion in U.S. tax dollars went to Pakistan as foreign and military aid. In the 2003-2008 period an additional $2.9 billion found their way to Pakistan in the form of grants and credits. Just looking at the years for which I have data for both categories, our support of Pakistan totaled $7.6 billion, thus in the 2003-2008 period.

Here is a graphic of this aid/grant support from the Statistical Abstract (here) year by year. Note here that my source did not show grants and credits for the years 2001 and 2002.

The $1.655 in aid and grants for 2008 is equal to almost one percent of Pakistan’s GDP. If they had given us aid and grants also proportional to our GDP, they would have had to send us $136 billion.† That would be worth approximately 25 percent of our Pentagon’s basic budget in 2010. The upper levels of Pakistan’s ruling elite need our aid to keep themselves in power—or it certainly helps.

But let’s try to see this from the perspective of the ordinary Pakistani. Supposing that China was giving us $136 billion in aid and grants. And their military had killed 40 people on the outskirts of Springfield, Illinois, and one of their agents had gunned down two people at an intersection in Lawrence, Kansas—and was then released scot free except for paying a fine—how would we view all this? Wouldn’t we be ready for an American Spring?
†Here the arithmetic. Pakistan’s GDP: $177.902 billion; U.S. aid and grants: $1.655 billion. As percent of Pakistan’s GDP: 0.93 percent. U.S. GDP $14,624 billion times 0.0093 equals $136 billion. U.S. 2010 Pentagon base budget: $533.8 billion. $136 divided by $533.8 equals 0.255 times 100 equals 25.5 percent.


  1. 136 Billion?

    How about 276 Billion?

    That is how much they loaned us in the last year, with 1.15 Trillion in total.

    I doubt the Chinese would throw that advantage away on Springfield and Lawerence.

    No, they will go for something bigger, such as Taiwan.

    We won't be able to do a thing because they won't lend us the money to pay our military to defend Taiwan.

    Reminds me of a good bit from Terry Practett's Diskworld and how one city defended itself against aggressors: Those are my boots you are wearing, and my sword your holding, now go away you dirty little debtor, and we won't raise your rates.

  2. Interesting perspective you provide in this post. Yes, diplomatic relations between countries often make for odd bed fellows but the entanglements in the Middle East are beyong the norm. Oil is, of course, a big part of that but it goes much further what with the State of Israel in the midst of the tangle.

    I don't claim to understand it all, far from it. But--as I think you were getting at--I can try and imagine what we in the U.S. look like from the common man's perspective in the Middle East and it is not a very pretty picture.