How to Win Friends and Influence Nations

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Reading the news of this past week, it is easy to see why the U.S. strategy in Pakistan is failing. Over the weekend, Prime Minister Wen Jiabao of China was in Islamabad praising Pakistan’s efforts fighting terrorism and pledged to increase trade between the two countries, the NY Times reported.

China has not uncovered any new secret in diplomacy that is allow it such breakthroughs. Really, it almost seems as if Wen is following the advice found in the book 人性的弱点 (The Weakness of Human Nature) or as it is better know, How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.

Consider three of Carnegie’s key principles:

  1. 不要批評,責怪或抱怨 or don’t criticize, condemn or complain.

  2. 獻出你真實,誠懇的讚賞 or give honest and sincere appreciation.

  3. 引起別人的渴望 or arouse in the other person an eager want.

Wen did not criticize Pakistan’s military efforts within the country’s tribal regions, rather he recognized Pakistan’s achievements.

“Pakistan has paid a heavy price in combating terrorism,” Mr. Wen said. “The fight against terrorism should not be linked with any religion or ethnic group, and there should be no double standards,” he said as lawmakers burst into applause.

“The international community should affirm that and give great support, as well as respect the path of development chosen by Pakistan,” he added.

China has its own concerns about Pakistan’s efforts dealing with militants. Wen said the fight against terrorism should focus on eliminating the “root factors breeding terrorism,” NPR reported. “The threat posed by militants in Pakistan is a growing concern for China given that the two share a common border. China also is dealing with its own Muslim separatist movement.”

Compare China’s praise to America’s (appropriate) concerns that Pakistan is not doing enough to fight terrorism.

Mr. Wen praised Pakistan’s sacrifices in combating terrorism and extremism, words that were in stark contrast to warnings from Washington that Pakistan needed to act more aggressively against insurgents.

Even when an American, such as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, expresses his “confidence” in Pakistan, the remarks could be perceived as a backhanded compliment.

Wen concluded his three-day visit to Pakistan warmly received speech to the Pakistani Parliament, CBS News reported. Describing China as an “all-weather” ally of Pakistan, Wen said:

“Let’s stand together, with a new confidence, and begin a new era of progress and prosperity, by jointly confronting all challenges,” Wen said… to the applause of Pakistan’s ruling and opposition politicians… “China and Pakistan are all-weather strategic partners and share the sorrows and joys of each other as close brothers.”

For his part, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani said the friendship between Pakistan and China is higher than the mountains, deeper than the oceans, stronger than steel, and sweeter than honey“.

Wen delivered $15 billion in trade deals which the Pakistani government greatly desires. China is widening the Chinese-built Karakoram Highway to further facilitate trade and increased $6.5 billion investment in Pakistan’s energy sector to develop wind and solar power, according to the Daily Times. China already had promised to construct two nuclear reactors in Pakistan.

The CS Monitor reported, Wen bolstered economic ties to Pakistan:

The Chinese delegation had already inked trade agreements between the private and public sectors of both countries worth some $30 billion. The trade deals are expected to bring up to $15 billion of desperately needed foreign investment over the next five years to this nation of 180 million struggling to cope with militancy and poverty.

A senior Pakistani told CBS News that, “unlike our western friends such as the U.S., China remains a true friend of Pakistan”. Now obviously, there is some playing the U.S. off of China for more support, but Wen is building upon six decades of strong Chinese relations with Pakistan. America’s relationship with Pakistan has been rocky and inconsistent since they began in 1947.

Also important to consider Pakistan’s concerns with India. Reuters reported China counters U.S. criticism of Pakistan:

“It’s a clear signal of China’s growing, assertive diplomacy,” said independent analyst Hamayoun Khan…

“China’s massive investment in this time proves two things. One is that China is a genuine ally of Pakistan, and second, it is a clear signal to the U.S. that if the U.S. supports India against China, China will support Pakistan.”

But all things considered, if the Obama administration is truly trying to win Pakistani friends and influence the future direction of Pakistan, it might want to rethink how the U.S. is going about it. While America is throwing its weight around Pakistan and killing people and destroying infrastructure, China is strengthening its bond with neighboring Pakistan by helping people and building infrastructure.

While C.I.A. drones attack the Khyber region killing 54 people, China is working to link China’s railway system to Pakistan Railways over Khunjarab Pass.

The Pakistan Times puts it like this, the U.S. is the destroyer of roads, while China is the re-builder.

China is rebuilding Pakistani roads, damaged by floods, ravaged by the US, abused by NATO, and destroyed by ISAF…

When the war started in Afghanistan in 2001, the US, ISAF, and NATO began using the Pakistani road system-abused, it and misused it. Colossal sixteen wheelers rumbled on the Highways with impunity. The Indus Highway has not been maintained by the Americans…

Every US narrative or article on Pakistan is always steeped in the crass reminders about the puny $7.5 billion in aid that is given to Pakistan. While Pakistan loses $20 billion per year in commerce and trade, the US keeps Pakistani Textiles out of its markets with very high tariffs and import duties…

The Chinese are now rebuilding the Pakistani road infrastructure that has been destroyed by the Americans.

At least since the terror attacks in the U.S. in 2001, Pakistan sees the American approach to that of a bully. Bob Woodward outlines the ultimatum delivered by the U.S. to Pakistan in his book Bush at War. Woodward writes:

Powell had already told Bush that whatever action he took, it could not be done without Pakistan’s support. So the Pakistanis had to be put on notice.

Along with Colin Powell and Dick Armitage, George W. Bush put together a list of seven demands they sent to Pakistan’s leader, General Pervez Musharraf.

This is not negotiable, Armitage told the general, handing him a single sheet of paper with the seven demands. You must accept all seven parts.

At 1:30 P.M. Powell called Musharraf. “As one general to another,” he said, “we need someone on our flank fighting with us. Speaking candidly, the American people would not understand if Pakistan was not in this fight with the United States.”

Musharraf to Powell’s surprise said that Pakistan would support the United States with each of the seven actions.

Dale Carnegie probably would have just shaken his head and said they were doing it all wrong. Threats are no way to win people over to your way of thinking.

Now, more than nine years later of getting no where in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the United States is still trying to throw its weight around. Breaking one of Carnegie’s principles, the United States again complained about Pakistani efforts. Last week, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Pakistan needs to do more to halt extremists, Reuters reported.

United States demands more progress by pakistan in Afghan War, Voice of America reported. See how well those demand go over in Pakistan?

BARACK OBAMA: “So we will continue to insist to Pakistani leaders that terrorist safe havens within their borders must be dealt with.”

Interior Minister Rehman Malik dismissed criticism of his country.

REHMAN MALIK: “If you see the statistics in terms of the casualties and injuries, it is Pakistan which has suffered the most in the world. We have done a lot. We are suffering in terms of our economy and obviously it is affecting our common man in the country.”

Yesterday, the NY Times reported that the U.S. military seeks to expand raids in Pakistan. The Pentagon wants to expand the use of Special Operations ground raids across the border into Pakistan. The proposal “would escalate military activities inside Pakistan“.

“We’ve never been as close as we are now to getting the go-ahead to go across,” an anonymous senior American officer said.

This is not to forget that “America’s clandestine war in Pakistan has for the most part been carried out by armed drones operated by the C.I.A.” Just this past year, the  C.I.A. has launched an ‘unprecedented’ drone assault in Pakistan’s tribal regions.

So, while the U.S. is looking for ways to escalate its war within Pakistan, China is looking for ways to escalate trade and economic ties within Pakistan. I expect China’s approach will have more success than America’s way has had over the past decade.

Maybe its time for Pentagon and State Department officials to crack open a copy of How to Win Friends and Influence People and read it. Whatever description the U.S. could give its diplomatic strategy for the past nine years, winning and influencing would sorely be absent. It’s time for a change of course in Pakistan and neighboring Afghanistan.


Cross-posted from Daily Kos.


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  1. The United States is escalating its undeclared war in Pakistan… and such actions will work just as well as it did in Southeast Asia in the 1960s and 1970s.

    • pfiore8 on December 23, 2010 at 00:48

    sent you an e-mail a while ago, but i guess it’s de activated?

    anyway, if you have time and or inclination, come for a visit (link in sig line). maybe do some different kind of writing…

    happy holidays…  

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