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Clinton Mission To Dispell Ugly American Image in Afghan/Pakistan People

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is juggling two beasts in her much ballyhooed trip to Pakistan and Afghanistan to shore up support for U.S. policy and fortunes.

Broken down to the commonest denominator, it is squashing al-Qaida and juicing up nation building. Both being paid for with money borrowed from China, for the most part.

Clinton wrapped up her visit to Islamabad Monday and takes the road show to Kabul where the message to the two nation’s leaders is the same: Rid the image of the people we are not Ugly Americans.

In the Pakistan capitol, Clinton hailed the infusion of $7.5 billion over five years in hydroelectric dams, municipal water supply improvements, hospital upgrades and farming initiatives. Lack of an electrical and water delivery system in both nations is the curse that is inflicted on the daily lives of both peoples.

Funding for the Pakistan projects was enacted last year in what is known as the Kerry-Lugar-Berman effort. They are Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.). Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) and Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee who authored the legislation.

Although the U.S. still supports the Pakistan military, Clinton said emphasis in the Obama administration is economic. It was a nice way of taking a swipe at the Bush administration when Washington channeled most of its billions to what it called the war on terror, ignoring economic and social ills that fermented the terror activity.

“There’s a legacy of suspicion that we inherited,” Clinton said. “It’s not going to be eliminated overnight. But it’s our goal to slowly but surely demonstrate that the U.S. is concerned about Pakistan for the long term, and that the partnership goes far beyond security against our common enemies.”

“It’s no longer talk,” said Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi. “It’s the implementation phase now, and it’s action-oriented.”

It’s a hard sell. Diplomats from both countries blame the Pakistani media.

Strident, clout-wielding voices within the Pakistani media help perpetuate a negative image of Washington, at times claiming that the U.S. engineers suicide bomb attacks in Pakistan, or that an ultimate U.S. goal is to wrest control of Pakistan’s nuclear arms.

“Opinion in Pakistan will change when they see how, through this partnership, their lives have changed,” Qureshi said. “And in these projects, we are focusing on things that will make a qualitative change in their lives.”

Unlike Afghanistan, U.S. and NATO forces strike Pakistani al-Qaida pockets by drones directed by covert ground spies. Too often, missed targets result in loss of civilian lives.

The U.S. nation building effort is fraught with intangibles.

Will the insurgents sabotage the infrastructure projects.

Will the “Made In The USA” sticker resonate.

How long can the U.S. afford to be the “sugar daddy” to these and other underdeveloped nations plagued by decades of civil unrest.

Why does the Obama administration, other than its own arrogance, believe the nation building effort succeed when similar programs enacted by the World Bank and other semi-private ventures have failed to make a difference.

The U.S. debt was $13,256,359,581,335 this Monday and at the moment a $42,933 burden on the backs of every American.

The days of playing “Sugar Daddy” and the world’s lone “Super Power” under the guise of “National Security” are unsustainable.

In the 1930s, this type of critical thinking would make me stand accused of being an isolationist.

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