Can humanitarian relief provide political support for security objectives? Michel and Nawaz identify costs that may outweigh the benefits of their policy recommendation.

From Atlantic Council: “But what can NATO do? History suggests that it can do a lot and rapidly. Moreover, a broad-based NATO support may be politically more palatable than any single-country relief effort in Pakistan . . .”

“To be sure, even a limited operation of two to three months would be costly. Some of the Allies involved in the post-earthquake effort complained bitterly at the time about the lack of NATO common funding for their NRF role. NATO needs to take urgent action to alleviate that problem – for now, common funding covers only the fuel of NRF air assets – but costs cannot be a show-stopper. Providing security for the NATO personnel would be another important consideration, but with careful planning and reasonable cooperation from the Pakistani military, this need not be an insuperable obstacle. (NATO personnel were generally well-received by the population in 2005-6.)

On the other hand, beyond the inherent moral value of humanitarian relief, the strategic impact of demonstrating NATO’s willingness to once again extend a hand to a Muslim population that is voting with its feet against extremist domination should not be underestimated. Think about winning “hearts and minds.”