A Current "Swords into Ploughshares" Proposal: Pakistan and Afghanistan

08/26/2010 11:00 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

There is currently an enormous humanitarian disaster in the floods in Pakistan that represent one of the greatest challenges the world faces. These floods were triggered by the start of monsoon rains last month and their scale exceeds other recent disasters. The floods have submerged one-fifth of the nation, killed over 1,600 people, and destroyed over a million homes as well as schools and hospitals, in the process displacing millions of people. The response of the U.S., the U.N., and other donor nations has been totally inadequate to the task at hand.

The U.S. has recently announced that some of the five-year $7.5 billion aid package promised to Pakistan last year will be diverted to flood recovery. This is a step in the right direction but is still inadequate, amounting to $50 million, in view of the enormous dimensions of the disaster.

I would like to suggest a contemporary "Swords into Ploughshares" proposal: that we take some of the resources that we are planning to use in Afghanistan, including funds, helicopters, troops, etc. and divert them to humanitarian relief in Pakistan. This would be a positive contribution that would help those in need and also be valuable in terms of the recognition that the U.S. would receive from the world at large. The U.S. certainly needs something like this to improve its international image and Pakistan desperately needs this additional support.

Michael D. Intriligator is Professor Emeritus of Economics, Political Science, and Public Policy at UCLA