One of the most familiar story lines in the beloved comic strip “Peanuts” involved malicious prankster Lucy holding a football and encouraging poor Charlie Brown to kick it. At the last moment, Lucy would pull the football away. Year after year after year, Lucy played Charlie Brown for a sucker. The football remained unkicked.

So why did Charlie Brown keep trying? To quote Samuel Johnson, Charlie Brown’s determination was an example of the triumph of hope over experience.

Like the relationship between the United States and Pakistan for the last 60 years.

Following 1947″s bloody partition from India, Pakistan followed a more pro-Western policy whereas the Indian government defined its foreign policy as more leftist. Diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Pakistan were established shortly after Pakistan’s independence. In May of 1950, Prime Minister Liquiat Ali Khan made the first state visit to the United States, stopping in New York, Washington, Houston and Kansas City. The prime minister was seeking financial and military assistance. The U.S. did not see the usefulness of a strong relationship with Pakistan and her interests in Pakistan were limited.

1954 marked a turning point in the history of relations between the two countries, as the U.S. began providing Pakistan with military aid, which would increase over the years. It was in the same decade that Pakistan experienced its first military coup, when its Army Chief Ayub Khan took power in 1958.

It was at that point that the football, in the form of aid, support of civilian government and cooperation in the war on terror entered the picture. Over the years, the U.S. and Pakistan’s relationship would improve and worsen in increasingly dramatic cycles.

The U.S. refused to provide military assistance to Pakistan during the 1965 Indo-Pakistani War. In April of 1979 the United States suspended all economic assistance to Pakistan (with the exception of food assistance) over concerns about Pakistan’s nuclear program.

The tide shifted in 1981, when Pakistan and the United States agreed on a $3.2 billion military and economic assistance program aimed at helping Pakistan deal with the heightened threat to security in the region and its economic development needs. With U.S. assistance — in the largest covert operation in history — Pakistan armed and supplied anti-Soviet fighters in Afghanistan. Weapons flowed through Pakistan to arm the mujaheddin through General Zia Ul-Haq, another military dictator who rose to power through a coup.

But the relationship’s cracks were becoming more obvious. As Lawrence Wright wrote in his New Yorker piece “U.S. Support for Pakistan: A Long Messy History;

At the same time, Zia began giving support to an Islamist organization, Jamaat-e-Islami, the forerunner of many more radical groups to come. In November, a mob of Jamaat followers, inflamed by a rumor that the U.S. and Israel were behind an attack on the Grand Mosque, in Mecca, burned the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad to the ground, killing two Americans and two Pakistani employees. The American romance with Pakistan was over, but the marriage was just about to begin.

After 9/11, Pakistan, led by General Pervez Musharraf, reversed course under pressure from the United States and joined the “War on Terror” as a U.S. ally. This alliance began rather dramatically. According to Musharraf’s biography, In the Line of Fire, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Richard Armitage threatened to “bomb Pakistan into the stone age” if the country didn’t get with the program. It was an “offer” that Pakistan was in no position to refuse. General Musharraf was strongly supported by the Bush administration.

In return for their support, Pakistan has received about $10 billion in U.S. aid since 2001, primarily military.

Where did the money go? According to Military Inc., by Ayesha Siddiqa, Pakistan’s army, which has never won a war, found creative ways to take advantage of Western largesse, investing in hotels, real estate, and shopping malls. According to a 2008 GAO report, more than a third of U.S. funds provided Pakistan since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks were subject to accounting problems, including duplication and possible fraud.

And then there’s the thorny topic of A.Q. Khan, the father of the “Islamic Bomb.” While Khan was operating a nuclear bazaar, the government of Pakistan argued that if there had been wrongdoing, it had occurred without the military’s knowledge or approval. Critics noted that virtually all of Khan’s overseas travels, to Iran, Libya, North Korea, Niger, Mali, and the Middle East, were on Pakistan government aircraft.

Then comes Osama saga.

For decades, the United States has made the mistake of equating “Pakistan” with its army and supporting military governments. The U.S., in the role of Lucy, has turned aid into a football. Unlike Charlie Brown, the Pakistani people, who do not benefit from this aid, have stopped trusting Lucy.

Meanwhile, Pakistan has also played the role of Lucy, offering assistance in the war on terror. While Pakistan has been helpful and the country’s people have suffered immeasurably as a result of brutal and ongoing terrorist attacks, the army and the ISI, like Lucy, have at times been too clever by half. Despite outward signs that aid will continue to flow to Pakistan’s military, there are growing signs that the U.S. is tired of playing the Charlie Brown role.

Charlie Brown never stopped trying to kick the football. Hope triumphed over experience. Can the same be said for the future of U.S. – Pak relations?

  • OzzynHarriet

    Any bets on the “I” count in the speech???

    Would it be better if he used the royal “we?”  A person giving a speech generally uses “I.” Can’t you find anything more substantive to complain about?

  • Mr. Natural

    >>> U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Richard Armitage threatened to “bomb Pakistan into the stone age” if the country didn’t get with the program.  

    Can’t someone retire this loose cannon? Perhaps get him on the Seniors’ Sumo Wrestling Circuit?

    Does he still cut Colin Powell’s yard?

  • FLDemFem

    Don’t worry, all is well, Obama is going to give a speech on the post-Arab Spring vision. I can’t wait to hear what he has to say. The Middle East has some misgivings about what his vision might be, as would anyone who has been paying attention. Any bets on the “I” count in the speech???

  • FLDemFem

    Hope is not part of a plan, but when you make a plan, you tend to hope it works out. At least I do. Now I am planning to help take down Obama in 2012, I sure hope it works.

  • FLDemFem

    When Katrina happened, the French offered a lot of help to their sister city, New Orleans. It was refused by the Bush administration. During the BP leak, there was competent help offered by several countries, it was refused by the Obama administration. So help has been offered to us by other countries when we have problems, but it has been refused by the people in power. Just because it wasn’t accepted, doesn’t mean help wasn’t offered.

  • FLDemFem

    Good, then they can get the money directly from China instead of from us after we borrow it from China. Saves us a lot of interest payments.

  • HARP

    Right you are. I hope my wife is in the mood tonight, but I`m counting on our experience to provide a good time.

  • Agent X

    harvey….

    Picky, picky…. OK so technically Pakistan boarders the Middle East and is part of South Asia….same applies….the policy stinks….

  • Concerned

    Gates said higher up did not know ben ladin in the country  
    ——————–

    lol. So they’re just incompetent? Good to know we’re propping up idiots. Oh what the heck. Maybe Dilbert’s got it right. There are health benefits associated with being an idiot.

  • Concerned

    U know, Larry…for a moment, I thought this story was referencing the little game that the LSM and RINOs play.

  • Mr. Natural

    >>>  the triumph of hope over experience.

    Repeat after me: Hope Is Not A Part of Any Plan!

  • felizarte

    Name me one country’s govt. that ever extended “aid” to the U.S.  The American people built their country with their own sweat, blood and tears. The People laid the foundation for a govt. of the people, by the people and for the people.  If other countries want to be as successful, economically prosperous (used to be), they should copy the methods that worked and stay away from those that didn’t.  The American people have been a generous people throughout the years.  But many citizens are now feeling that there is a whole bunch of countries and people that are playing the American people for suckers.  The country should stop playing/pretending to be  the rich uncle to the whole world and become a laughing stock because we don’t have unlimited resources.  The country is not poor–it just doesn’t have unlimited money.

  • Texas Playwright

    Close the U.S.A. Bank of Bailouts Foreign and Domestic for one year.  Promise nothing down the road.  Then watch.

  • TeakWoodKite

    Where does the money of the US government always go?

    Good read Nail’em Up. From pallets of green backs in Iraq to Robert Bear landing with suit cases of cash in northern Afghanistan….it all went to some percieved noble purpose, don’t cha know?

    With a high probability, only to return to take a chunk out of someone’s ass on the front line of todays reality, defending yesterday’s half baked policy.

  • felizarte

    Examine/analyze the aid we provide all other countries.  Cut foreign aid by 25% and keep it in US–to help the American economy instead.

    Recall all troops in foreign lands and save money.

  • felizarte

    Charlie Brown never stopped trying to kick the football. Hope triumphed over experience. Can the same be said for the future of U.S. – Pak relations?

    We don’t have to look at Pakistan.  Just look at our White House.

  • HELENK

    Gates said higher up did not know ben ladin in the country

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/43080361

    All foreign aid should be stopped until our own country is out of debt. For years we have given, rebuilt and forgiven debts  to other countries. The well is running dry our own people need the help.
    Explain how our government can refuse aid to Texas for help with the fires, sue Arizona and not protect our borders and still expect people to pay  taxes to go to other countries. How much help will the people along the Mississippi who just lost everything to save larger cities get from this governemen?

    WOMEN WITH INTELLIGENCE AND EXPERIENCE,MEN WHO SUPPORT THEM AND COUNTRY BEFORE PARTY ALWAYS

    PUMAS,BUBBAS,EQUALISTS AND THOSE CHATTERING PEOPLE RULE

  • harvey

    Pakistan isn’t in the Middle East.

  • lurker

    That doesn’t mean they’ll stop expecting the U.S. to send aid

  • murray

    Didn’t Pakistan just announce yesterday that it’s new BFF is China?

  • lurker

    It’s bad when the army uses our hard earned tax $$$ to suppress its own people, line the pockets of generals, meddles in civilian government, spreads propaganda, bites the hand that feeds it and hides terrorists.

  • lizzy

    Deflate the football. Stop all aid to countries who abuse our support.  If there is a serious threat to end our aid it may change attitudes.  I don’t see why we should be be beggared to provide aid to shaky false countries.  We shouldn’t be borrowing money to provide aid.

  • EllenD

    Pakistan’s army, which has never won a war, found creative ways to take advantage of Western largesse, investing in hotels, real estate, and shopping malls.
    This isn’t necessarily bad. I may have told you before, but when I was doing a sound track in Beijing I found myself very late at night being hustled into a dark car so I could listen to an FX track.
    I was startled when we passed high walls and were stopped at a Chinese Army check point before being taken inside. Apparently the Chinese Army had bought Beijing’s oldest movie studio.
    In some ways I believe that when an army has commercial interests it may be more constrained from starting a war that would jeopardize their investments.

  • EllenD

    the Pakistani people, who do not benefit from this aid, have stopped trusting (the US).
    But isn’t this true of all the foreign aid we give? It benefits a few at the top who control their country’s policy decisions regarding the US. It never benefits the people. It is naive to expect there is any kind of trickle down because it looks to the people like we are simply buying their corrupt government.
    Which we are.
    Why would we expect the people of other countries to like us?

  • Agent X

    With our track record and Middle East policy, it would be much better if Charlie Brown, kicked Lucy….