B Raman’s piece Pakistan’s World of Illusions in OutlookIndia.com ends rather surprisingly. Raman makes a very convincing case of Pakistan’s duplicity — not a very difficult thing to do, you would say. Perhaps the people at the Time of India running the crazy Aman ki Asha scheme need to read Raman. What I find puzzling is the paragraph Raman concluded with.
Pakistan’s penchant to live in a self-created world of illusions is known to us. We are not surprised. But we are surprised by the inability of the US and the rest of the world to see through the games which Pakistani political and military leaders have always played. They are letting themselves be sucked into Pakistan’s world of illusions.
I am surprised by Raman’s surprise. What’s so surprising about the US’s policy vis-à-vis Pakistan? I think most informed Indians, with the possible exception of those who run the Times of India, are quite familiar with Pakistan’s delusions. If it’s that blatant, surely the US administration and policy makers are not a bunch of retards that they don’t know about Pakistan’s antics. Clearly it is in the US’s interest to have Pakistan labor under delusions of grandeur.
For the US, Pakistan is easy to control. The generals want some shiny toys to play with and the US provides them. The generals keep the people in check. The people in Pakistan starve and become more dependent on the America Allah Army trinity.
(People in India also starve. In fact, there are more starving people in India than there are people in Pakistan. India’s starvation has to do with the Congress party’s control of India. By keeping a very large segment of Indians very poor and generally uneducated, the Congress ensures their continued dominance in India. One may argue that Indians are as unfortunate as Pakistanis when it comes to lousy leadership. But I will not go into that here.)
I have argued that the US and other advanced industrialized countries (AIC) such as Britain, France, Sweden, etc, are running a dollar auction. In my piece Dollar Auctions and Deadly Games, I made the case that the AICs are the auctioneers and while the impoverished countries India and Pakistan are bidding for a dollar. In a dollar auction, the winner gets a dollar but the loser has to pay the auctioneer whatever he has bid but does not get the dollar.
Wars too have the peculiar characteristic that both parties, winner as well as the loser, pay. The dollar auction game illustrates the trap that nations fall into in a process of conflict escalation given the structure of strategic games.
The dollar auction is a perfect model of the conflict that India faces against Pakistan, with Kashmir being the dollar being auctioned. The bids in this auction are the military expenditure of each nation and the auctioneer is the one who collects the spoils of the military expenditures of the two nations. Since advanced industrialized countries are the major suppliers of arms, they play the role of the auctioneer quite well.
That piece was written right after the Kargil war. It’s been a while and the argument seems to be pretty solid. Seen through the prism of the dollar auction game, what the US does makes sense. The US could help bring the India Pakistan conflict at an end. But it does not because it is in its self-interest to keep the conflict going.
The auctioneer has an incentive to see that the conflict is not terminated. The imminent bankruptcy of one of the participants could end the game. The auctioneer could offer to lend money to the party on the verge of bankruptcy and at the same time encourage the other party to continue with the bidding. The recent IMF loans extended to Pakistan is an instance of this move in the real world that the model predicts. The intervention of the AICs to end the conflict would be parallel to the auctioneer, contrary to his interests, stopping the bidding game. This would not happen in the model and it does not happen in the world it attempts to model. One could be puzzled by the seeming irrationality of the IMF lending money to Pakistan while at the same time the AICs agreeing that India is the aggrieved party. All puzzlement disappears once one notices that this strategy precludes the possibility of the game ending too soon.
Every time I learn that the US is selling weapons to Pakistan, or giving it aid, I know that India will have to make some expensive arms purchases. That suits the politicians in India very well because it gives them an opportunity to make a killing as well. The phrase “make a killing” here means two things: first, the politicians make a lot of money in kickbacks Bofors style; and second, a few million already starving Indians are pushed to an early death.
Dorothy Sayers get to have the last word here. “Never think that wars are irrational catastrophes: they happen when wrong ways of thinking and living bring about intolerable situations.”