A rather obvious but increasingly necessary Sunday morality lesson for the foreign policy community

“If we do the right thing, it will be good not only for the people whose lives we save but for the U.S. image in Pakistan,” Richard C. Holbrooke, the administration’s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, said Thursday on the PBS program “The Charlie Rose Show.”

The NY Times reports on US food aid efforts to Pakistan.

Dear Pentagon and Congresspeople: It’s Sunday morning. Many of you are in church at the moment. Your collection basket could be going around right now. I want you to close your eyes and picture the following: as it nears a man in the front aisle, he stands: “I’d just like everyone to know Ginger and I here are giving a thousand dollars today,” he announces, before dropping a ziploc full of cash in the basket. The next week, there’s a new basket, emblazoned with “brought to you by Phil and Ginger Jackson, your pals in the front row”.

Has he won your heart and mind yet? I’m guessing not.

Poor people and dictators are not stupid. Their moral compass looks a lot like ours. And right now it’s pointing to “asshole”.

When you give humanitarian aid precisely because you want something in return, it’s not really charity, and people will not like you. The great irony: if you want people to think you’re a kind and noble nation, you need to give irrespective of your realist and nationalist aims. (It also helps if you don’t give food with one hand and close down the Ground Zero mosque with the other).

(This generous message was brought to you by your Canadian pal Chris Blattman. Just leave the Green Card by the door on your way out.)