Elizabeth Bumiller leads her retrospective on Benazir Bhutto with wise words: "Benazir Bhutto always understood Washington more than Washington understood her." This is the kind of thing I was driving at when I observed that "it's much easier for Pakistani actors to manipulate US policy than the reverse." We don't have American political leaders who speak fluent Urdu, went to Pakistani schools, and count a wide swathe of influential members of the Pakistani elite as among their personal friends.

We can and should take steps to improve the US governing class' understanding of foreign countries, but we shouldn't have any illusions about our ability to totally upend the imbalance in Pakistani elites' ability to understand the US versus our elites' ability to understand Pakistan. Our efforts to meddle can have a big impact (since the United States is a very large, rich, and powerful country) but they seem unlikely to have the intended impact.