Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says the United States needs to “take a deep breath” before considering ending military aid to Pakistan, because the last thing America wants is a failed Muslim state with nuclear weapons. Rumsfeld also said Thursday on Fox News it would be “terrible” if radical Islamists ruled Pakistan.
“We ought to take a deep breath and recognize it would make us feel good for about five minutes if we cut off aid to Pakistan — and recognize the relationship with that country is complex, it is important — and it is imperfect,” Rumsfeld told Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren. “We ought to be willing to ask the tough questions, to do it in a measured tone of voice, and not react and say cut off all the money, they’re bad, they are double dealing.
“The reality is it is a Muslim country with nuclear weapons — the last thing we want is that to be a failed state,” Rumsfeld said. “It would be a terrible situation if radical Islamists took over that country.”
Rumsfeld said he had heard no evidence that anyone on any level of the Pakistani government had information as to the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden, and it would have been easy for the killed al-Qaida leader to hide in plain sight.
“You can go across the Potomac drive up the road, look at those gated estates, we don’t know what is going on there it is a mile or two from the Pentagon. It is perfectly possible to hide in plain sight — it is a rush to judgment to say they must have known,” Rumsfeld said. “I would not want anyone in or out of the Pakistan government to know where I was — if one other person knows, somebody else is going to know, and then somebody else.
“My guess is he had a very tight support network of a very limited number of people, one or two maybe outside, who managed the support for him,” he said. “And he was successful in staying hidden for a very long time. But if you start telling people in the Pakistani government where you are — he didn't need their help, he has money, supporters. The judgment they must have known because it is close to a military base, is just not right.”
Rumsfeld said the United States had cut off military aid to Pakistan before — and the results could have been a disaster.
“They exploded a nuclear weapon, we said that is terrible, and let’s not talk to them —that doesn’t get us far — we ended up with a generation of military people that didn’t have [relations] with U.S. military,” he said. “It seems we have to be mature, measured, and recognize we live in a world where other countries aren’t like us, they are not. And they weren’t even like us 50, 100 years ago. We are different, they are different.
“And they have been enormously helpful in some respects and not helpful in others — we ought to keep working that relationship and try to improve it,” Rumsfeld added. “The question isn’t, are they good or bad — it is mixed. The question is what is the trajectory? Which way are they going? Are we improving our relationship in a way that it is more beneficial to the United States?”
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