The University Chicago is Okay with Dipesh Chakrabarty Propositioning a Graduate Student?

#TimesUp for Sexual Predators in Many Places: But Not at the University of Chicago

February 22, 2018

The University of Chicago is revered as a world-renowned scholarly institution. But for many students that have come and gone, we know it also as a sanctuary for sexual predators. The U.S. Department of Education opened cases against the University of Chicago for mishandling sexual violence under Title IX in 2016 and 2013. In May of 2017,  Sarah ZimmermanJamie Ehrlich, and Emily Feigenbaum wrote an extensive account of the university’s record on sexual harassment and sexual assault and demonstrated a remarkably crass continuity in the hostile environment endured by women since 1952. Whereas powerful men across the country are being toppled for their past and current abuse of power as the #TimesUp and #MeToo waves continue to crest, the University of Chicago continues to protect its predators unapoligetically.

In 2004, I finally graduated with my PhD from the Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago. I was an unusual student because I completed my PhD remotely after being sexually harassed by a revered scholar, Dipesh Chakrabarty.  During the winter quarter of the 1993-94 school year, Chakrabarty asked me “are you looking for sexual pleasure” while handing in my final paper.  I followed the appropriate procedures to complain to no avail even though Chakrabarty did not deny asking me this absurd question. Instead, I learned that the university did not proscribe such propositions. In fact, I was told by a dean in the social sciences that the onus was upon me to explain to Chakrabarty that his advances were unwanted. How else could he possibly know that such a solicitation was undesired?  It took considerable gumption and effort to track him down and explain that his behavior was repugnant. I then spent the rest of my time in the PhD program fending off his efforts at retaliation.

I could not have attained this degree without the unstinting support of my ally in the department, Professor Steve Collins. Collins protected me from Chakrabarty while enabling me to finish my doctorate from Santa Monica, California where I began working full-time at RAND. I flew in to take my orals, to defend my thesis proposal and ultimately my thesis. I received a half-rate PhD in comparison to my classmates who could avail of the mentoring of the superb faculty and incomparable language training there. Instead, I completed remaining course work, including my study of Persian, at the University of California Los Angeles. I was devastated to learn that this month Collins died while lecturing in New Zealand. I lost a mentor, a guardian and a witness to what I endured.

Ultimately, I sought professional refuge in a discipline far removed from that of my dissertation. It would have been impossible to obtain a comparable job in South Asian Languages and Civilizations with Chakrabarty as a nemesis.

In 2013, Chakrabarty came to my notice after a student at the University of Chicago wrote a pseudonymous account of the sexual harassment and assault she endured doing student-related work in India for CNN and the lack of support on campus for her ensuing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  Unsurprisingly Chakrabarty minimized her experiences and cast aspersions upon her account.

After BuzzFeed published my experiences at the University of Chicago in October 2016, many of his current and past victims wrote to me both to thank me but also to share their experiences. I wrote to the office of the president at the University of Chicago in which I explained that I wanted an apology for what I experienced,  a modest donation to RAINN, which runs the largest crisis network in the United States, and an investigation into his ongoing abuse of power. Ms. Briget Collier from the Title IX office responded and assured me that she would re-examine my experience with Chakrabarty as well as those of previous and current students. We all trusted her with our stories with the strained hope that this time, things would be different.

On December 22, 2017, I received a formal response in which she wrote “In evaluating your allegation that Professor Chakrabarty made a comment to you sometime during the winter quarter of 1994, I have concluded that the comment would not have constituted sexual harassment under the University policy in effect at that time.” On January 2, 2018 I drafted a follow-up email requesting clarification about whether or not the University of Chicago still considers it acceptable in “the 2017-18 academic school year for a professor to ask his student in his class ‘Are you looking for sexual pleasure?’? That email went unanswered.

As a tenured faculty member at a prestigious university, I am flummoxed at the insouciance about these matters at the University of Chicago. Chakrabarty has, by my account and the accounts I have received from others, has enjoyed a 25-year spree of sexual harassment without censure or abatement. Whereas the rest of this nation is concluding that this kind of behavior is not acceptable, the University of Chicago continues to protect the predators in its midst.

The University of Chicago will not change until public outrage forces it to do. We need to raise our voices and make a clarion statement that tenure was meant to protect intellectual freedom, not to provide a sanctuary from which vulturine faculty can safely harm students with impunity and immunity.

Christine Fair

Provost’s Distinguished Associate Professor, Security Studies Program Georgetown University

Communication from the University of Chicago’s Title IX Office



2017-12.22- C. Fair (2)-page-0012017-12.22- C. Fair (2)-page-002

My Follow-Up Email Asking for Clarification, which went unanswered.


The Continuing Saga of the Dirty Cop Ostrav, the Perjurer named S. Kapoor and the Complicit Polizeipräsidium Frankfurt am Main

To: Polizeipräsidium Frankfurt am Main

Polizeidirektion Flughafen

Südpassage, Gebäude 194

60549 Frankfurt am Main

Phone: +49-69-755 42008

Fax: +49-69-755 42009


Re case file number: ST/0042100/2018.

Dear Sir or Madam;

I am writing with respect a case that was filed against me on false charges on 11 January 2018. My case number is ST/0042100/2018.

Summary of Key Points

  • Police Lieutenant Ostrav threatened to arrest me because I wanted to file a customer service complaint against him in response to his unprofessional and needlessly rude behavior.
  • I was falsely accused and arrested on the charge of calling officer Ostrav a Nazi (among other epithets) despite the copious amounts of exculpatory footage that all police officials refused to review.
  • I was denied the right of filing a counter charge of defamation against my accusers.
  • I was falsely relieved of my assets.
  • After the arrest the police, published an account of the event (in response to my own in the Huffington Post) that was explicitly misogynist and intended to depict me as an ill-behaved, out of control, entitled American female who was outraged over her “seized cosmetics.” In fact, I was pleasant and professional throughout the encounter despite being called a hippie, treated to excessive rudeness and threatened with arrest over seeking to file a customer service complaint.
  • The police appear to have violated Germany’s own privacy laws: I observed that several German newspapers published the police’s account with my name and photo. This constitutes a further defamation campaign waged by your own police forces.

I am requesting that these fraudulent charges be dropped, that my seized assets be returned, that lieutenant Ostrav is investigated, and that defamation charges are filed against Mr. S. Kapoor, who perjured himself in testimony against me.

This missive describes the events leading to the unjust arrest and defamation and their sequelae.

The Event in Question

On 11 January 2018, my carry-on baggage was screened for explosives and came up positive. I became concerned about this when I asked the baggage screener about the process for resolution. She answered only “the police will come.” In the United States and other places I visit frequently, baggage screeners are generally willing to explain the process for resolution of baggage-related issues. I found this person’s refusal to answer my question to be puzzling and disconcerting. Worse yet, it took some time for the police to arrive.  I asked her to call the police again because I had already missed one flight thanks to United Airlines and was likely to miss the flight on which I had been rescheduled. She explained that this was “not my problem.” I asked another inspector to call the police, after which the police finally came.

As a somewhat frequent visitor to Afghanistan, which I explained to lieutenant Ostrav, I was worried that perhaps my bag had come into contact with ambient amount explosives in the air. My colleagues in the armed forces report that this does happen on occasion owing to the pervasive amount sof explosives in the ground-level atmosphere. I wanted to know what I should do about this: should I throw the bag away? Can I clean it? I tend to trust Germany technology and operated under the assumption that this was not a false positive.

Without explanation, officer Ostrav began removing my belongings from the bag. In the United States, this typically would happen in a private place rather than the public. When no explosives were found, he made a considerable scene over two tubes of antibiotics that he found in various pockets of my bag. As someone who flies about three to four times a month, I have not actually emptied the contents of my bag between trips in a very long time.

However, he continued belaboring these excess liquids. (I did not feel the need to engage on the facts that those tubes he threw away were in fact medicinal and are allowed even if they exceed the “one baggie” rule.)  Next, Ostrav seized upon my solid deodorant. (See Pic 1.) Ostrav’s deputy, apparently of junior rank because Ostrav chastised him for weighing in on the issue despite his junior rank, also understood it was a solid but was told that his opinion did not matter because Ostrav “outranked” him.

I pointed out that this was in fact a solid. It was evident from visual inspection it was a solid and the description on the container made it clear it was a solid. Ostrav was simply being noxious because his authority permits him to be obnoxious. Ostrav offered various preposterous explanations for why it was a liquid. For example, he claimed that the “solid mixes with the body and becomes a liquid” and thus it is a liquid after he first argued incorrectly that the container had fluid in it.

At this point, I asked to speak with a manager. Ostrav said “I am the manager and I say it is a liquid.” I countered politely that he is not a manager, he is a police officer. At this point, I asked for his name because I wanted to file a customer service complaint about the basic rudeness of the entire process inclusive of the scene he made about the ostensibly excess liquid and ultimately the seizure of a solid for no apparent reason other than he could.

He told me pointedly that if I filed a complaint about him, I would have a police record. Precisely, he said “If you file a complaint, I will arrest you for being an unruly passenger. Do you want a German police record?”

I thought he was bluffing. I could not possibly imagine a German police officer being so crudely abusive of power. But he was not bluffing. I repeated my polite request for his name. He then asked me for my passport and boarding passes and withdrew a notebook from his pocket, in which he wrote my information and repeated that I would have a police record if I wanted to complain about is behavior. I repeated my request for his name and told him that I would specifically mention this threat in my complaint. Finally, after requesting his name several times, he wrpte his name and rank on a piece of paper and tore it from the notebook described above. See Pic 2. At no point did he actually show me his police credentials to verify that this is in fact his name. (This is of course customary in most of the democracies in which I have lived or traveled.)

At one point in these various exchanges I was called a “hippie.” This was obnoxious. I presume I was dismissed as a hippie because I am a female with long hair and was wearing an Indian shirt and jacket? For the record, I am a tenured professor at a major research university in the Washington, DC area, whose specialization is international terrorism and other national security affairs. Not only do I have a clean criminal and driving record, I also hold a security clearance, and have advised German officials on Afghanistan! I am a fastidious upholder of the law wherever I have travelled. I am the obverse of a “hippie.”

During the entire process, I was polite although I was very worried about my bag and what I should do with it; not to mention worrying whether or not I should call the conference organizers in New Delhi about yet another missed flight. Ultimately, no one answered my question about whether I should discard the bag or clean it. I presume it was a false positive. But no one could be bothered to even answer that basic question, which I posed not to be obnoxious but because I am in fact a national security professional who takes these matters seriously. Nonetheless, Ostrav barked at me to “shut up” when I tried to understand whether the positive test was false positive.

During this process, three American men came through the same line. One of whom had a distinctive haircut of the Hitler Youth. Had anyone bothered looking at the footage, they would have seen that I frequently looked back at these gentlemen in disbelief.

After Ostrav left and as I packed my bag, I muttered to myself “The crack German police have seized my deodorant…but they don’t seem to care about that Nazi-looking dude over there!” A baggage screener, whom I learned later was named Kapoor accused me of calling Ostrav a Nazi. He then called officer Ostrav back to the screening area whereupon I was arrested and falsely charged with defaming Ostrav. (By the way: I know it is illegal to call someone a Nazi in Germany, which is why I would never do so. I also personally oppose the gratuitous use of the word “Nazi” and only use it when the evidence merits its use as is the case in contemporary American politics under the Trump regime, which has empowered and normalized these elements..)

At first I assumed that this was a linguistic misunderstanding on the part of Kapoor and explained “I think you misunderstood me. I referred to the gentlemen behind me, who is an AMERICAN, not your police officer.” I asked Ostrav and Kapoor to replay the security footage to confirm my account. He and officer Ostrav refused to refer to the footage noting that their surveillance tools do not record sound. I countered that the footage would show the three men behind me, my repeated astonished glances at the fellow, and the hairdo which was strikingly redolent of the Hitler’s Youth well-groomed pompadour. Not to mention, the video would confirm my lip movements to be consistent with my account rather than their account. No one was interested in reviewing that footage. (I hope that the prosecution will at least bother to do so, although I fear it is long gone.)

I am aware that this “haircut” may not mean anything to you or many others who are unacquainted with the state of affairs in my country generally of my state, Virginia, specifically. However, the coiffure did and does mean something specific and worrisome to me for several reasons, which are germane to this case and why I was concerned about the gentleman in question.

First, I live in Alexandria, Virginia.  Very near my home in Alexandria is the residence and national office of the most prominent leader of the American Nazi movement: Richard Spencer. Richard Spencer first came to national notoriety in November 2016 when his leaders gave the Sieg Heil salute to President Trump in the Ronald Reagan Building in nearby Washington DC after his election in November 2016.[1] Mr. Spencer specifically adopts the hair-style of Hitler’s Youth and he encourages his followers to do the same.[2]

Second, Mr. Spencer has caused havoc in my community with his night-time torch-lit rallies deliberately intended to conger images of similar rallies convened by the Ku Klux Klan (KKK)[3]; his calls for “peaceful ethnic cleansing,” which he readily admits it will not likely be peaceful; as well as his demeaning insults of racial and religious minorities and women.[4] In August 2017 he convened a so-called “unite the right” rally to protest the removal of Jim Crow-era statuary commemorating slavery and the treasonous soldiers who fought to maintain it under the banner of the Confederacy. At that rally, one of his supporters deliberately rammed his vehicle into a counter-protester and killed her.[5] Spencer had a previous rally on May 14, 2017.[6] Within a week of that racist rally, one of Mr. Spencer’s fellow white supremacist murdered Lt. Collins III, an African American young man in our community who had distinguished himself as a scholar and as an air-borne qualified soldier.[7]

Third, after that rally in May, I worked to oust Mr. Spencer from my private health club because several of the gym employees asked me to do so.[8] The gym had been indifferent to their pleas even though most are members of minority communities specifically impugned by Spencer’s hate speech. The ouster of Spencer and my centrality to it became national and even international news.[9] His followers obtained and published my home address and phone number. For nearly one month, I was subjected to death threats, threats of sexual violence, and harassed by his followers who used crude anti-Semitic abuses through all means possible. They harassed me at home and they harassed my colleagues at their place of employment. I received voice mail at my home in which the caller said, “Fat, kikess, get into the oven” among other similar examples of anti-Semitic hate-speech. His followers made and distributed hateful fliers in my neighborhood calling me among other things a “Zionist terrorist” along with numerous other flyers that articulated anti-Muslim and racist messages.[10] (See pic 3.)  Because of my long-ago process of converting to Judaism, my local police treated this matter and subsequent harassment and threats as a hate crime.[11] While the Hitler Youth haircut and the likes of Mr. Spencer may mean nothing to you, it means and meant a lot to me. I still receive occasional abuses from his acolytes.

Once in the small police station, an officer whose name-tag read “Mehrinj,” arrived from the state police. I had expected this ostensible professional to resolve the matter in the most obvious way, allowing me to rebook yet another flight. It was not to be.  The man who accused me of calling Ostrav a Nazi  (Kapoor) was now repeating his account to Mehrinj. As Mehrinj took his credentials, I saw his name: S. Kapoor. Kapoor was furious that I learned his name. (See Pic 4). After much polite insistence, Mehrinj finally wrote his first initial and family name on a piece of paper along with his organizational affiliation.

As I stood there, Mr. Kapoor augmented his initial accusation with additional fabricated details. I don’t know German but I did hear Kapoor say this: “Fucking Nazi German police.” Mehrinj confirmed that, according to Mr. Kapoor, I had called Mr. Ostrv a “Fucking Nazi German police.” I may note that this is not standard American vernacular English, which is an important point since Kapoor was adamant that this was a direct quote. In the mendacious and deliberately misleading press release issued by the state police, it appears as if Mr. Kapoor further added yet more lies to his perjurous account by accusing me of calling Ostrav (or it seems German police in general) “fucking bastards.”[12] Instead of reviewing the footage, Mehrinj simply believed what he heard and wrote that I was “strongly suspected of having committed” the offense of defamation.

  • I want to draw your attention to several irregularities I experienced at the airport police station:
  • I was never given a copy of the police report or even of my own statement. This is important because it serves as a record of what happened while I was there. It appears as if Mr. Kapoor continued to add further fictions to his fraudulent testimony, as noted above.
  • I specifically requested to file charges of defamation against Mr. Kapoor, but I was denied this. (The refusal to take my complaint against Mr. Kapoor happens in countries like India and Pakistan where ironically I study police reform. I did not expect this to happen in Germany.)
  • I had to demand Mr. Kapoor’s name. I was not given it freely. In what democracy is a person denied the very name of her accuser, much less the name of a person who has made false accusations?
  • I was told that the prosecutor requested 300 Euros after the paperwork was complete. (Note that I was not given the complete paperwork with the exception of the forms provided below (Pics 5 and 6).) I asked about the purpose of this payment and was told that this was to avoid going to jail. However, I told them explicitly that I wanted to go to jail, that I wanted to meet a German judge and explain how this fiasco started with me wanting to file a customer service complaint and being threatened with arrest by lieutenant Ostrav and then, finally, I was charged with an outrageously false charge.

At this point, Mehrinj told me that he was empowered to “confiscate my assets.” I again requested to know the grounds for this only to be told that it was because I was “avoiding going to jail.” However, I was not avoiding going to jail. They were avoiding taking me to jail. Ultimately, Mehrinj forced me to remove my wallet and the cash therein. (I asked him if he wanted my Indian Rupees, which he derided.) He organized the bills by denomination and arbitrarily removed $260. In my experience as a well-travelled person and as a scholar of police corruption in South Asia, this is what we call a “shake down.”

At no point did anyone review the exculpatory footage, despite my repeated requests. In fact, I suspect that the exculpatory footage is long gone.

Kapoor and Ostrav described me as a “hippie.” This is a peculiar appellation for me and I can only attribute their deployment of it to the fact that I was wearing an Indian shirt. I explained that in fact I am a professor who specializes in national security affairs and I am not a hippie, whatever they meant by that.

To add to the general lack of professionalism in the police at Frankfurt, I had to reach out to the German Embassy to identify the appropriate contact information. I obtained the information for this correspondence from Mr. Holger Scherf, the Consul General and Legal Adviser at the German Embassy in Washington D.C.

The Police’s Behavior After the Event

After I left Frankfurt for New Delhi India, I wrote a detailed account of what transpired in The Huffington Post and shared it on my social media.[13] I also emailed an official complaint to the police department. The police refused to entertain my complaint against Ostrav until after the prosecution. This was preposterous because I am being prosecuted on the false testimony of Ostrav and Kapoor, the objects of my complaint. (See Pic 7).

The police department even attempted to bully me for my account. (See Pic. 8.) I found their post to be outrageous given what had just happened to me. I was not given due process. I was falsely charged with a crime I did not commit, I was denied the right to press counter-charges of defamation, I was never given a police report, and I was “relieved of my assets” for reasons that were not as stated.

After my piece in the Huffington Post ran, The Bundespolizeidirektion Flughafen Frankfurt Am Main ran a press release that published several lies and helped to create a gendered narrative that I was the “ugly American” who made a scene over my “cosmetics.” Consistent with their desire to depict me as an unreasonable American woman, they claimed that I was irate over my “cosmetics.” The use of this gendered word is absurd: I do not wear cosmetics because I am allergic to the vast majority of cosmetics. (The only time you will see makeup on me is when I have been forced to do so while doing television interviews.)

The only person who made a nuisance of himself over liquids was Ostrav, who was obnoxious, impolite, capricious and abusive. The report blatantly lied about the substance of the deodorant by calling it a “roll-on,” which is a specific product that is liquid deodorant distributed on the skin through the use of a rolling ball. My product, which Ostrave decided to create a scene over, was not a roll-on; rather a solid. The press release also reported erroneously that I was travelling to Istanbul. I strongly suspect this inaccuracy was a deliberate effort to mobilize the less-than-salubrious sentiments in Germany about Turks and Turkey. (After all, I was going to Delhi not Istanbul which Ostrav knew since he took my boarding passes.)

Moreover, it appears as if the police violated Germany’s own privacy laws. When I reached home I found that several German newspapers published their “press release,” with my name and photo. At no point did anyone ask me if the Huffington Post account referred to the same person as their press release. Here are some of the links that friends and colleagues in Germany sent me:

Germany’s police demure from releasing the full names of terrorists; however, they seemed to have released my name in an effort to besmirch my name and reputation. A more litigious person than myself would also seek reparations for this outrage. Notably, in each of the above accounts, the papers rely upon the account of the police, not mine.

My Requests

  •  In short, I am requesting the following:
  • To be cleared of this outrageous charge and to be issued an apology for the police’s outrageous behavior at the airport and for the smear campaign they launched against me after wards.
  • My money to be returned to me.
  • That officer Ostrav to be investigated for threatening to arrest me because I sought to file a customer service report about his behavior and my experience with baggage screeners.
  • For a case of defamation to be opened against Mr. S. Kapoor. Whether he initially misheard me I do not know or care because. in the end. he continued to add fabricated details which could only have been a deliberate attempt to further defame me because they in no way resembled anything that I said. For example, at no point did I use profanity as Kapoor’s perjured testimony suggests.

In closing, I have no actual expectation that you will even receive this missive as I was informed by Mr. Scherf that I must send this to the very organization which refused to take my complaints seriously in the first instance, charged me with a crime which I did not commit, and refused to file a counter-charge against Mr. Kapoor for perjuring himself with his false, defamatory testimony.

In the odd event that this missive does reach the desk of the prosecution, I hope she or he will treat me with more fairness and judicious consideration than I have received thus far.

Warmest Regards,

Christine Fair, PhD
Provost’s Distinguished Associate Professor
Georgetown University
Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service


Pic. 1: The Actual Deodorant, Which is Clearly a Solid (not a roll-on)



Pic. 2: Ostrav’s Name and Rank (in his writing)


Pic. 3. Photographs of Flyers Posted in My Neighborhood by American Nazis, featuring those that targeted me.


Source: Various photographs from the event.

Pic. 4 Name and Title of S. Kapoor as Given to Me by “State Police.”


Pic. 5. Statement which Falsely States the Reason for My Asset Seizure


Pic. 6. One of Only Two Documents I received.  The other is shown in Pic. 5.


Pic. 7. Email Exchange with the Police


Pic. 8. Tweet from the Police



[1] Mr. Spencer is also wont to use the vernacular of the Third Reich such as “Lügenpresse” among other expressions. See Daniel Lombroso, “’Hail Trump!’: White Nationalists Salute the President-Elect,” The Atlantic, November 21, 2016.; Joseph Goldstein, “Alt-Right Gathering Exults in Trump Election With Nazi-Era Salute,” The New York Times, November 20, 2016.

[2] Ruth Perl Baharir, “From hipster fad to neo-Nazi tag: How America’s Alt-right Got Its Signature Hairstyle,” Haaretz, Feb 08, 2017.; Monica Hesse and Dan Zak November, “Does this haircut make me look like a Nazi?,” The Washington Post, November 30, 2016.

[3] If you are unfamiliar with this hateful organization, see Southern Poverty Law Center, “Ku Klux Klan,” n.d.

[4] Ben Schreckinger, “The Alt-Right Comes to Washington,” January/February 2017,

[5] Phil Mccausland, Emmanuelle Saliba And Moira Donohue, “Charlottesville Rally Turns Deadly: One Killed After Car Strikes Crowd, NBC News, August 13, 2017.

[6] “White nationalist Richard Spencer at rally over Confederate statue’s removal

Spencer says torch-wielding protest in Charlottesville, Virginia – which evokes memories of the KKK – was ‘a way to communicate with the dead’ The Guardian, May 14, 2017.

[7] Dave Zirin, “A Lynching on the University of Maryland Campus,” The Nation, May 22, 2017.

[8] C. Christine Fair, “I confronted Richard Spencer at my gym,” The Washington Post, May 25, 2017.

[9] See inter alia, Faiz Siddiqui, “Georgetown professor confronts white nationalist Richard Spencer at the gym — which terminates his membership.” The Washington Post, May 21, 2017.–which-terminates-his-membership/2017/05/21/d3ff6512-3e51-11e7-8c25-44d09ff5a4a8_story.html?utm_term=.dcfe032872e7; “White Nationalist Richard Spencer Loses Gym Membership After Brush With Professor,” Haaretz, May 21, 2017.; Andrew Buncombe, “Richard Spencer has gym membership revoked after woman confronts him for being ‘neo-Nazi’,” The Independent, May 22, 2017.

[10] Remy Smidt and David Mack, “A Bunch of Racist Posters Were Plastered Around This Neighborhood And Now Police Are Investigating,” Buzzfeed, May 27, 2017.

[11] Sam Kestenbaum, “Professor Branded ‘Dirty Jew’ After Confronting ‘Nazi’ Richard Spencer,” The Forward, May 23, 2017.

[12] “BPOLD FRA: U.S. Passenger insults Federal Police Officers at Frankfurt Airport,” January 19, 2018.

[13] C. Christine Fair, “Framed, Arrested and Robbed by the Police in Frankfurt: A Not-So Funny Thing Happened on my Way to the Forum in Delhi,” January 12, 2018.

Afghanistan’s Future Nationhood

Sarah B. Grace

by Sarah Grace

While there are many similarities between the United States’ wars in Afghanistan and Vietnam, the inherent differences between these countries mean that their trajectories after a US departure could not be more different. Many factors inhibit the building of an effectively governed, peaceful and secure Afghanistan, but for the United States to remove itself from the conflict would be devastating for this country and its people, the surrounding region, and likely the world at large. Instead of abandonment by the United States, the path to success for Afghanistan requires a concerted and thoughtful military resurgence to motivate a peaceful settlement; this can then be solidified with culturally-competent restructuring and partial decentralization of the Afghan government so that it has the legitimacy it needs to operate unchallenged by further insurgencies.

During his presidency, Barack Obama rejected the comparison between the American wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. There are…

View original post 5,256 more words

Framed, Arrested and Robbed by the Police in Frankfurt: A Not-So Funny Thing Happened on my Way to the Forum in Delhi

01/12/2018 12:49 pm ET Updated 0 minutes ago

I’m a very frequent flier. In the course of suffering some 1.7 million miles with just one airline, I thought I had endured some fairly outrageous travel-related fiascos. But then this happened: At terminal B at Frankfurt airport on 11 January 2018, I was literally framed, arrested and, for all intents and purposes, robbed by the Frankfurt airport and German state police.


Long before this happened, Frankfurt Airport had become one of the most harrowing airports through which I regularly transited. I had already removed it from my list of viable routes to fly anywhere…even if my destination is Frankfurt. Frankfurt Airport is routinely decried as one of Europe’s worst airports. This dubious distinction is well-earned.


Yet, for a variety of reasons, here I was transiting through one of the most incommodious airports in Europe. To make matters worse, my United flight had been delayed due to one of United’s quotidian maintenance problems and I had missed my connection to New Delhi, India. I had been re-booked but needed to quickly traverse the long distances of this execrable airport. I rushed to reach the security line and found that it was oddly empty. For a moment, I felt relieved that I may get to my re-booked flight on time.

My carry-on suitcase had already made its way onto the conveyor belt and into the x-ray machine as I was still disrobing and taking out my electronics. I proceeded through the millimeter wave scanner machine and then, for apparently good measure, had my breasts patted down officially but a security agent. I saw that my carry-on had been pulled aside.


An officious woman with the professional pleasantries of a grave digger said in a threatening tone and wavering English “I must check your bag for explosives.” (Her English of course is much better than my non-existent German!) Given the quantity of flying I do, I have had those random checks in the past. They are no big deal and they rarely take more than a minute or two: after all I have no explosives and have not been anywhere near explosives.


But, with a furrowed brow, the Frau began conversing in German with her colleagues. They squinted at the Magic Screen and conferred. She came over and announced with scowl that the “police will be called as my bag tested positive.” Several minutes passed and still no police. The Frankfurt Airport is festooned with police. Where were they when they were actually needed? You would think if this was in a fact a significant crisis with a potential terrorist with explosives in her bag in terror-stricken Germany, the police may have come a bit more alacrity. As time ticked by, I became worried that I would miss yet another flight. I expressed my concern about missing my flight and she growled “This is not my problem.” So, I asked another security agent to call the police again. I also politely inquired about the process for resolving such matters. She simply repeated the phrase: “police will come.”


As an observation about Frankfurt Airport’s resoundingly loathed “customer service” process, it would not have truly pained this uniformed harridan to explain what happens in these circumstances. The vast majority of customers torturing themselves by flying through this wretched airport whose bag tested positive likely felt the same anxiety and concern as I did and likely had no actual explosives either. (Frankfurt Airport routinely is ranked among Europe’s worst airport in part due to curmudgeonly employees like this woman and her associates in other billets at the FrankFart Hellport.)

When the police officers finally arrived with a leisurely saunter, they could not find the problem customer. So, I enthusiastically waved them over hoping that they will resolve this obvious case of a “false positive.” I asked the officer what the process is for resolving this, but he ignored me gruffly and contemptuously.


In fact, the nameless officer told me to shut up and stop being uncooperative. This was of course uncalled for. Neither the officer nor the woman who tested my bag were pleasant or even helpful. I asked basic questions about process and was treated as if I were being uncooperative. In fact, I was quite worried that maybe my bag had come into contact with ambient explosives from a somewhat recent trip to Afghanistan back in October and I asked if this were possible and, if so, what I should do if this is the case. (This does happen, by the way. Many of my friends in the military have told me this once I posted this harrowing episode on Facebook and Twitter.) I apologized again for not speaking German and tried again to restate my question about process: what was going to happen, and over what time frame? Would I be allowed to fly? Should I contact the conference organizers in Delhi about a delay? Alas, they treated my pleasant and concerned queries as if I were questioning their very authority.


Without explaining a thing, they began taking all items out of my suitcase in front of all customers. Again, had they any actual fear about explosives, would they wish to do this in the full visibility of a public which may be panicked or even injured by an exploding carry-on? For a variety of reasons, I would have preferred that this happen in private. (I was thinking to myself: thanks Dog I left my humongous vibrator at home.) I packed the rattiest undergarments as this was to be their final voyage. Then came the tampons and maxi pads. (I’m going through menopause and my periods are irregular and, when they come at arbitrary times, they are crazy deluges. So I always come prepared for one of those unpredictable Biblical floods that remind me of my diminished fertility.)


Then came the drama over “liquids.” The woman explained that I was in this situation because I committed the crime of not removing my liquids. I politely explained to her that this was not intentional that my bag was already on the conveyor belt while I was removing my jacket and my electronics. Also, I am not sure how my liquids in any way pertain to a positive explosive test and the general unpleasant demeanor of all persons involved.


They had nothing on me. There were no explosives. Failing to remove liquids from your bag is not a crime…only an inconvenience for everyone involved. Then they seized upon my deodorant. They told me that I had “too many liquids.” This was untrue. I had the lawful amount in a plastic bag and each item was the lawful size. (I should note that I observed an incredibly inconsistent policing of the Liquid Regime at that airport. Some people had over-sized liquids in regular grocery-store plastic bags, which were visible to all as they removed them from their bags.)


The police officers and baggage security personnel were going to make that deodorant their stand. They said I could not take my deodorant because, they repeated insolently, it was a liquid and I had too many liquids. I explained it is most certainly not a liquid. It is a solid. In fact, the deodorant said very clearly on the container “dry,” which is typically an antonym of wet, which is a characteristic of most liquids. (The product description also describes it as a solid. The below photo depicts my deodorant.)


Now this just seemed petty and trifling. And for the first time, I went from being worried and concerned to being really irked at just how terribly ill-behaved these people were.

As some point the woman left and a slight fellow with a tightly groomed beard arrived on the scene. I explained to the newcomer that the item in question is my deodorant: that it is a solid not a liquid. I also explained that this has not been a very professional experience and asked to see a manager and I wanted to know how I can file a customer service complaint about this un-necessarily unpleasant experience and, of course, the preposterous declaration that an obvious solid was a liquid. I also asked for the names of the individuals involved because none of the persons had name tags, as is customary in many democratic countries.


The police officer explained, with all of the bluster with which Donald Trump declared himself to be a “stable genius,” that the solid mixes with the body and becomes a liquid and thus it is a liquid after arguing that the container has fluid in it. (I resolved that canard by opening the deodorant.) His English is obviously better than my German: but my chemistry is much better than his. This was just preposterous. His language, his body posture, his demeanor was thuggish, discourteous, demeaning and noxious. He was going to seize my deodorant come hell or high water. I asked the gentleman who had replaced the older woman if I could speak to a manager about the deodorant and the entire encounter more generally. Was this petty? Sure. Would I have been better to let the thugs have their way? No doubt about it. But the capricious and arbitrariness of the entire proceeding really pissed me off. Making my flight had become tenuous and I no longer cared. I asked once again to speak with a manager. I also kept thinking, if these rubes behave this way with me how would they behave with a more vulnerable passenger?


The police officer bellowed “I am the manager and that is a liquid.” I said politely. No. It is clearly not a liquid and you are not the manager. You are a police officer. And you are a rude police officer.


In the meantime, three American men were behind me. I had watched them come through the same security checkpoint as I did. One of the three seemed younger than the other two. He was wearing a flannel shirt with the sleeves rolled up to reveal his tattoos. He was actually sporting a Hitler’s youth haircut. He had no hair on either side of his head and he had a very exuberantly characteristic flop that combed over towards the left. It was surprisingly glistening with hair product and showed no sign of dishevelment despite his journey. I looked like a banshee in contrast. If this guy had asked for that haircut unknowingly, my heart goes out to him. However, that do, in my view, was deliberately distinct from the hideous Hipster hairdo that Millennial metro-sexual males have regrettably popularized or the military’s high and tight cut, both of which are sometimes mistaken for the coiffure of American white supremacists. It is illegal in Germany to be a Nazi or act like a Nazi. But Inspector Clouseau and his daft sidekick was too busy impounding my solid deodorant and offering various preposterous explanations for why it was a liquid when it was clearly a god-damned solid to notice the fellow conspicuously sporting the preferred coiffure of the Hitler’s Youth.

Annoyed with this set of procedures and general surliness of all persons involved, I again courteously explained to the officer that I would like to know his name and I want to register my displeasure with this set of interactions. At this point, the officer threatened me with arrest!


I wish were exaggerating. I wish I was engaging in hyperbole for humorous effect. Alas, this ill-tempered boor was furious that I was insisting upon complaining about his uncivil behavior and had become even more intemperate. I explained that, in my country, our law enforcement personnel wear name tags and that citizens have a right to register complaints when they believe they have been maltreated. (PS: I am totally aware that this is a privilege generally reserved for white people. This is truly a white privilege.) But, I continued politely but firmly, he had no name tag. He bellowed that he would arrest me if I insisted upon filing complaint.


Let that marinate. This cop actually threatened me with arrest if I wanted to complain about his indecorous behavior. At this point I was pretty clear that I was going to complain about him, drawing particular attention to his threat of arrest if I complained about him. He actually said “If you complain, you will have a German criminal record.” This was becoming a farce. It occurred to me that if he does this to an American white woman who teaches at a prestigious American university and who is a national security professional, how would he treat a Muslim woman in a hejab or a Muslim man with a beard. I concluded that I am going to file a complaint against this man for his crude abuse of power. He knew he was wrong and was willing to do anything to avoid a customer service complaint: including arresting the complainant.


He was as adamant as was I: He explained that if I am going to complain about him, he was going to arrest me. He asserted that I was being a belligerent and rude passenger. Now anyone who knows me knows that I can indeed by very “rude,” which is the adjective that men use for women who are assertive. I countered that the cameras will not align with their story. They dismissed the cameras as evidence of my decorous behavior noting that they do not record sounds. However the camera would record my mouth moving and the mouth movements would confirm my version, not their defamatory version.


And as these ruffians became more thuggish, I became more resolved. I wanted their names. I was filing a complaint and I don’t care if I miss my damned flight as it was increasingly unlikely I would catch that flight anyway.


As I insisted that I would complain, so did he that he would file a criminal charge. He said “Now you will have a German police report.” Clearly this was intended to intimidate me. Since I lack any flight instinct, I said do it. I am complaining about your abuse of power and I am specifically dilating upon your threat to arrest me should I persist in complaining about you.


He removed from his pocket a small notebook. He took my passport and boarding pass and wrote down my details. He then illegibly scribbled his name on a piece of paper. He only wrote what appeared to be “Austav.”


After they had satisfied themselves that I had no explosives, the abrasive, contempt-dripping Austav left having pronounced “I am the manager” in response to my queries to speak to a manager. He also felt the need to belittle his uniformed colleague (who was apparently confused about the deodorant nonsense) by citing his lower rank. (N.B.: Anyone who needs to literally pull rank when a subordinate knows how a solid differs from a liquid Is clearly a rank rube.)


As I put my tampons, cruddy travel panties and long-worn travel bras back into my suitcase, without the deodorant, I muttered to myself while shaking my head “The crack German police have seized my deodorant…but they don’t seem to care about that Nazi-looking dude over there!” And, as I was still shaking my head in disbelief, I was actually arrested.


The chap with the closely hewn beard whose job it was to watch x-ray images of baggage called the police back and told them that I had called the officer a “Nazi.” At first I assumed that the this was a linguistic misunderstanding. At this point, the three fellows including the Hitler Youth haircut enthusiast had left. I gave the baggage screener the benefit of the doubt and explained “I think you misunderstood me. I referred to the gentlemen behind me, who is an AMERICAN, not your police officer.” I told him to replay any of the security footage. He and officer Austav refused again noting that their surveillance tools do not record sound. I countered that the footage would show the three men behind me, my repeated astonished glances at the fellow, and the chap with the hairdo that was strikingly redolent of the Hitler’s Youth well-groomed pompadour.

This actually happened—not in Kabul, Lahore or Chicago—but at the airport in Frankfurt, a major city in one of Europe’s most important democracies known for its fastidious adherence to the rule of law.


Once in the small police station, the state police arrived. This fellow had a name tag: Mehrinj. I was relieved. He seemed polite and more professional than that swaggering goon who could not distinguish a solid from a liquid. I had expected this ostensible professional to resolve the matter allowing me to rebook yet another flight. It was not to be.


The short fellow who accused me of calling Austav a Nazi was now repeating his account to Mehrinj. As Mehrinj took his credential, I saw his name: S. Kapoor. Kapoor went ballistic that I knew his name. What kind of democracy is Germany where an individual has a right to perjure himself about a person but the victim of this perjury doesn’t have a right to know the name of her slanderer?

As I stood there, Mr. Kapoor adumbrated his accusation. I don’t know German but I did hear this: “Fucking Nazi German police.” It was pretty clear where this was going. Mehrinj explained that, according to Mr. Kapoor, I had called Mr. Austav a “Fucking Nazi German police,” which is a crime in Germany. I may note that this is not even standard American vernacular English, which is a fairly important point since Kapoor was adamant that this was a direct quote.


Amongst themselves, Kapoor and Austav described me as a “hippy.” This is a peculiar appellation for me and I can only attribute their deployment of it to the fact that I was wearing an Indian kurta and coat and sandals because, after all, I was going to India. I explained that in fact I am a professor and I am not a hippy, whatever they meant by that.


I don’t know if Mr. Kapoor actually thought he heard this or whether he was a calumnious schlemiel who, upon making a false accusation, was not only not going to back down but would, in fact, double down.


At this point, it became very clear that Mr. Kapoor and Officer Austav were engaging in a breathtaking abuse of power. I had asked for their names and information where I could report my dissatisfaction with how I was being treated and this was their retaliation.

I was literally charged with the criminal offense of defamation because I had the audacity to request politely for the names of the noxious and impolite officials as well as information about where I can file a report or find a manager. The photo of the charge is below. You can see that I am “strongly suspected of having committed” the offense of defamation.


Mehrinj took my written statement. I was told I was to be given a copy. (I was not given a copy.) I also was adamant that I wanted to file a police report for defamation against Mr. Kapoor who mendaciously asserted that I had called Austav a Nazi but who also perjured himself in doing so. I was told that if the prosecutor wanted to charge him, s/he could. I repeated my desire to file a police report against Mr. Kapoor. These efforts were denied repeatedly.


Before being allowed to leave they requested 300 Euros. This was the final straw. I told them to throw me in jail and that I would happily go before a judge and explain the slander and the abuse of power to which I was subjected because I wanted to file a customer service complaint, which is a basic consumer right in most democracies. In the end, they demanded to see the cash in my wallet. I was told to remove my cash. I had about $300 dollars. They arranged the bills by denomination and took what they wanted. They took $260 dollars and told me that they were kindly leaving me with $40. I was given a piece of paper, shown above, in which they indicated that they took this arbitrary amount of money from my wallet for “avoiding provisional arrest” and “securing the implementation of the process.” Make no mistake: this was a considerate robbery in which the perpetrators left me with a receipt.


In retrospect, what I experienced was little more than jack booted thuggery. I also suspect that this was deeply gendered. These two men were annoyed that a woman (whom they repeatedly called “Miss” despite the fact that I am a 49-year old woman) dared to seek accountability for their unprofessional behavior. I continue to wonder who else Austav has abused but whom he intimidated into silence? I fear for a racial or religious minority that would encounter him. What contempt would he show them? This man does not belong in any uniform, except perhaps the one which corrupt police officers wear in jail….were they ever to be jailed for their abuses of power.


In closing, I say this to Mr. Austav: I did not call you a Nazi. But you are an insolent bully. The only thing that differentiates you from the criminals one may encounter in the street is the weapon and badge the state has given you along with the authorization to use force in the service of the state. Make no mistake: you abused this privilege and expected to do so without accountability. To Mr. Kapoor, whether your English is not as good as you insist or whether you are guileful and unctuous toadie, I have this to say: ਉਮੀਦ ਹੈ ਕਿ ਕੋਈ ਜਾਂ ਕੋਈ, ਤੇਰੀ ਗੰਦ ਵਿਚ ਝਾੜੂ ਡਾਲਕਰ, ਮੋਰ ਬਣਾ ਦੇਵੇਗਾ. (If you can’t read Gurmukhi: umid hai kh koi ja koi tere gand vich jaru dalke mor bana denge.) And finally to Frankfurt airport, Gute Riddance.



Post Post Script: On January 17, 2017, I received this email frombpold.frankfurt.sb14.beschwerdestelle@polizei.bund.dePerhaps coincidentally someone in Germany complained about my post to German Twitter, which of course found nothing wrong with my post.


Bundespolizeidirektion Flughafen Frankfurt am Main Sachbereich 14 – Beschwerdestelle Dear Mrs. Fair, thank you for your complaint. Please note that your complaint procedure will be suspended until a decision concerning the criminal proceedings has been reached by the public prosecutor. Therefore, I would like to ask you to direct all requests concerning the criminal proceedings to the responsible public prosecutor’s office in Frankfurt am Main, quoting the reference. Once the decision by the public prosecutor has been made, I will reply to your complaint regarding the procedure at the security screening checkpoint.

Best regards In order Armin Thiel Sachbearbeiter Beschwerdemanagement _______________________________________ Sachbereich 14 – Beschwerdestelle Bundespolizeidirektion Flughafen Frankfurt am Main

Postfach 75 02 64 | 60532 Frankfurt am Main Telefon: 069 3400-4194 | Fax: 069 3400-4109 E-Mail: Internet:

——-Ursprüngliche Nachricht——- Von: Christine Fair [mailto: Gesendet: Freitag, 12. Januar 2018 19:54 An: D FRA Post (Eingang); Christine Fair Betreff: I was abused by your police in Frankfurt, framed and basically robbed

Good Afternoon:

I have written this account of what happened to me at Frankfurt Airport yesterday on January 11, 2018. When I return to DC from Delhi, I will be making an appointment with the ambassador. To be subjected to this thuggery by a police service in Europe’s vanguard of democracy is beyond belief. This is what I expect in my own country: not in Germany. I would like the money that was taken from to be returned and I want an apology. I have also reached out to German and American media about this event through my social media following. Framed, Arrested and Robbed by the Police in Frankfurt: A Not-So Funny Thing Happened on my Way to the Forum in Delhi

Warmest Regards,

C. Christine Fair,


Post Script: On January 13 2018, the Frankfurt Airport Police, via a tweet, attempted to silence me asking that I observe their version of “netiquette” and “avoid using this channel to make public allegations.” To them I say, I will not shut up until my money is returned and justice is served. While you want me to observe “netiquette,” your thugs in uniform were not advised to respect my civil liberties.

Old Whines in a New Bottle: US Policy Towards Pakistan under Trump

President Donald J. Trump,  who is widely viewed by mental health professionals to be mentally unstable and exhibiting “marked signs of volatility and unpredictable behavior, and an attraction to violence as a means of coping,” offered his maiden tweet of 2018:

“The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!”

The tweet encouraged the Indian commentariat who have long been hopeful that Trump would act decisively against Pakistan, given his presumed antipathy for Muslims specifically and his propensity for bluster more generally. Meanwhile Pakistan responded as it has in the past for being called out for its mendacity and perfidy: it rallied its trolls; it summoned and demarched the US Ambassador in Islamabad; and, in all fora possible, it denied the allegations of nefarious deeds with all of the sincerity and credibility of the wholesome human resource manager of the Chicken Ranch.


However, even as the tweet continued to titillate Trump enthusiasts in India and at home, the responsible members of Trump’s government were strategizing how to roll this all back. Later that day, a National Security spokesperson reiterated what the New York Times had already reported on December 29, 2017: namely that “The United States does not plan to spend the $255 million in FY 2016 foreign military financing for Pakistan at this time.” This is not the sweeping cutoff that Trump implied in his braggadocios tweet.

Trump’s staff has offered various justifications for the tweet, even though it may be the most accurate thing the president has said in the last month.  For example, McMaster told VOA that Pakistan “goes after terrorist and insurgent groups very selectively and uses others as an arm of their foreign policy.” We South Asianist have been calling this “Pakistan’s Selective War on Terrorism” and we have been using this term for about as long as the Americans have been fighting terrorism in South Asia, ostensibly with Pakistan as a partner.

Let’s just get this out of the way: there is little that is, or ever will be, new in Trump’s Pakistan policy.  We are not going to see sweeping sanctions or aid cutoffs. We are not going to see the joint declared a state sponsor of terror, although it surely is. We’d be lucky if his administration targeted specific people, but I doubt that would be adequate punishment to get Pakistan to behave any less opprobriously. His policies will not diverge significantly from that of George W. Bush or Barrack Hussein Obama. Why do I say this? Is it because I think everything he touches turns to horse excrement? No. There are two simple reasons for my dour assessment. First, there are the night terrors triggered by imagining how terrifying Pakistan could be without American money. Americans just cannot manage to understand that Pakistan is the most stable instability. It can survive without our money and it would probably be better off in the long-run if it weaned itself off of Chaccha Sam’s teet. Second and more important than the first is the logistical requirements of staying the course in Afghanistan.


Image result for Pakistan terrorism cartoon

Stop Hyperventilating: Obama Did the Same Thing Too…And Pakistan Still Screws Us

Trump is fond of making outrageous claims that are not even modestly true. Despite his preposterous rhodomontades to the contrary, Trump is not the first president to express distaste for Pakistan’s actions. In August 2007, presidential candidate Barrack Hussein Obama threatened to undertake unilateral military strikes against the terrorists harbored by Pakistan. Obama, upon being president, took the fight to Pakistan with his zealous use of airstrikes by remotely piloted aerial vehicles. Obama did more in the early years of his presidency to wipe out al Qaeda in South asia than George Bush did during his entire eight years in office. Moreover, in March 2009, when Obama announced his so-called “Af-Pak Strategy,” he specifically identified Pakistan as a terrorist safe-haven. His Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton travelled to Pakistan and said more clearly than any of her predecessors that Pakistan’s past policies of supporting terrorism accounts for its own domestic terrorism. Specifically she impugned Pakistan by explaining that “You can’t keep snakes in your backyard and expect them only to bite your neighbors. You know, eventually those snakes are going to turn on whoever has them in the backyard.

Let us not forget that it was Obama who ordered the US Navy Seals to unilaterally attack a compound near Pakistan’s famed military academy in which Osama Bin Laden had been residing in plain sight for numerous years.


And, during the Obama administration, the United States also withheld funds from Pakistan: $300 million to be precise for several years. Arguably those funds were more important than the FMF presumably off the table at present. It did so because the US Congress passed legislation that authorized $1 billion dollars in coalition support funds (CSF), but rendered $300 million hostage to Pakistan taking decisive action against the Haqqani Network and in later years, against the Lashkar-e-Taiba. These moneys could only be paid if the administration certified that Pakistan had complied with the requirements. On several occasions, it demurred to do so largely because no one really wanted to perjure themselves that bad to allow those funds to go forward.

CSF has been a hugely lucrative source of funding for the Land of the Pure (Duplicity). Of the nearly $34billion that the U.S. taxpayer has handed over to Pakistan since 2002, CSF has comprised the bulk of it: nearly $15 billion.  In 2008, the U.S. Government Accounting Office was so pissed off about the corruption in this program that it conducted a thorough investigation and wrote a scathing report about the malfeasance in the program. While the program was intended to reimburse Pakistan for the marginal cost of killing its own terrorist, the Pakistanis have had a field day billing all sorts of major expenditures to the U.S. taxpayer. While the program has become less absurdly lucrative for the Pakistanis, it is still an important source of defense subsidy for Pakistan’s army which has never won a war—except against its own democracy.

CSF is essentially a bribe to get the Pakistani military to do what any self-respecting military of  a sovereign state should do: keep its territory free of terrorists. In fact, Pakistan is required by United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 1373 (adopted in 2001), which obliges all states to “refrain from providing any form of support, active or passive, to entities or persons involved in terrorist acts, including by suppressing recruitment of members of terrorist groups and eliminating the supply of weapons to terrorists.” This resolution is a Chapter VII resolution, which also authorizes force should a country fail to abide by its provision. This is exactly what Pakistan did in November 2008 when its favored proxy—the Lashkar-e-Taiba—savaged Mumbai, yet the United States and China colluded to ensure that no discussion of penalties ever arose at the Security Council. Arguably, by compensating Pakistan to do what it should be doing vitiates the importance of this resolution and established the perverse incentive of rewarding Pakistan for eliminating the very terrorists that it continues to breed. To be blunter: we are paying Pakistan to hunt rats even while Pakistan is farming those very rats. We should put into a place a program that incentivizes Pakistan to stop having rats (or terrorists for that matter) in the first instance.

Despite the Satsuma-hued Satan says about his administration getting tougher on Pakistan than any other administration in the natural history of the earth (which is only about 3,500 years according to most of his base and about 4.54 plus or minus 0.05 billion years for us sentient folks), under pressure from Trump’s Secretary of Defense, The GoP-led Congress actually weakened one provision according to which the United States will withhold coalition support payments to Pakistan when it removed a provision that linked assistance to Pakistan to taking demonstrable action against terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT). The current National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) 2018 only requires Pakistan to act against the Haqqani Network, which it surely will not do either. It did so after Pakistan released the organization’s leader, Hafez Saeed, who is a declared terrorist by the United States and the United Nations among others, from house arrest/protective custody and after Saeed announced that his organization is fielding a political party, the Milli Muslim League, to contest the general elections of 2018.

This is hardly a sweeping punishment that will knock Pakistan on a course of acting against terrorism. Historically, FMF funds have not been the mainstay of the American dole to Pakistan. Out of the more than $33 billion given to Pakistan since FY 2002, FMF has accounted for less than $4. The most lucrative payouts have been through the CSF program which totals more than $14.5 billion.

More humorously, if one can find humor in this situation at all, is that FMS probably aids the U.S. military-industrial complex more than it aids Pakistan.  Why? Well for one thing, FMF funds enable partner countries to buy American “defense articles, services, and training,” and is provided either as a non-repayable grant or loan basis. In other words, the FMF program is a clever way by which the U.S. government can’t our tax dollars, hand them over to the Pakistanis who in turn use it to buy expensive stuff from U.S. military contractors. FMF is actually a fairly clever way of taking money from the American taxpayers and putting into the pockets of American defense firms. This is one reason why the part of the Pentagon that sells stuff to our allies—perfidious and otherwise—tend to holler when these funds gets pinched. (But remember, Trump says he knows how to make a deal. Someone needs to tell him that this irradiated sasquatch dung because, in fact, he has run most businesses he has touched right into the ground. In fact, Trump would be more wealthy if he took his daddy’s inheritance and did nothing with it all or invested it in index funds. He’s just that shitty of a business man.)

The Preferred Roads to Afghanistan (Preferred by the adults on his staff, that is because he doesn’t have a dog-damned clue), Go Through Pakistan

(PS: I am pretty sure that Trump doesn’t look at maps ever. Reportedly, while being briefed by a staffer on South Asia he asked about “two blobs” on a map. The briefer explained that they were Nepal and Bhutan. Trump then asked? Are those countries? He then proceeded to pronounce them as “nipple” and “button.” Yep. That’s our fucking president people.)

So you may be asking yourself: “Self? Why is it that the United States continues to make huge payouts to Pakistan while highly publicizing the limited efforts to restrict relatively small amounts of aid to the country even though it is widely recognized that Pakistan continues to fund the very organizations—such as the Haqqani Network, the Taliban, and groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba among others—that are killing our soldiers and allies in Afghanistan?” You may also ask yourself: “Self, why can’t any president muster the vaginal fortitude and declare Pakistan to be a state sponsor of terror, for which there is ample evidence?” (Hint: We have a very racist country but we are more sexist and we didn’t want to elect the most qualified candidate since George Herbert Walker Bush because of structural misogyny, Putin and Wikileaks and an inept FBI.)  Alternatively, you may ask yourself: “Self! Why can’t the United States simply take its checkbook and let China take over paying Pakistan’s bills as Pakistan continually threatens will happen should the United States walk away from this abusive relationship for good?” You have asked some mighty important questions. It turns out, that that there are several important reasons, none of which are easily ignored…not even the Putin pawn currently defiling the White House.

First is the way in which Pakistan has literally monetized the insecurity that its policies have explicitly fostered, by design. Pakistan has the fastest growing nuclear program in the world, inclusive of efforts to develop so-called “tactical nuclear weapons.” (I prefer to call them “battlefield nuclear weapons” as even the smallest nuclear bomb will have strategic effects if used.) Given Pakistan’s well-known reputation for black market nuclear trafficking, well-publicized reports of moving its warheads around in un-escorted, soft-skin vehicles (such as –wait for it—fucking vans) and an actual petting zoo of every kind of domestic, regional and trans-national Islamist terrorist organization thriving under its protection, Americans and its allies are rightly concerned that any mis-step may result in a terrorist getting his (Pakistan’s terrorists don’t value women’s skills any more than the average Trump voter) hands on Pakistan’s nuclear technology, fissile material, or device.  This is Washington’s second worst nightmare. (The first is having a progressive, feminist, pro-choice woman in the White House.)  Ironically, Pakistan has invested in both its nuclear and terrorist arsenals on Washington’s time and dime. You can build a lot of nukes and terrorists with $34 billion folks! Yet American officials in virtually all branches of government fear that a complete breakoff in aid will hasten this outcome even while continued payments to Pakistan permit this ever-more effective nuclear coercion. They will tell you that we have to keep bending over and grabbing our ankles otherwise we’ll lose access and influence. With all the good that access and influence has brought, I see end them both!

Second and related to the first, the United States worries about Pakistan’s solvency. If it really wanted to bring Pakistan’s to its terror-loving knees, it would let the International Monetary Fund cut it off when it reneges on its own commitment to financial reform. (In the future, international contributors to the IMF will essentially be subsidizing Pakistan’s exorbitant loan repayments to the Chinese. This alone should be adequate reasoning to let the IMF cut Pakistan off. However, this is unlikely to happen. Pakistan has essentially developed its bargaining power by threatening its own demise. With any economic collapse of Pakistan, Washington again fears that the specter of a nuclear-armed terrorist rising up from Pakistan will materialize.

Finally, and pertaining to the U.S. war in Afghanistan, Washington has placed itself in a losing position. I have argued for years that the United States lost the war in Afghanistan when it went to war with Pakistan, one of the states most committed to undermining the US efforts there. I have compared this decision to putting a pederast in charge of play ground safety and then wondering what went wrong?

Whereas the United States wants a stable Afghan government which can resist its predatory neighbors and keep Islamist militants out of the government and prevent Islamist militants from using Afghanistan as a sanctuary to train, recruit and plan terrorist attacks in the region and beyond, this is precisely the Afghanistan that Pakistan wants.  The only way Washington could have had a hope of avoiding the situation in which it finds itself is if then President Bush had capitalized upon the opening with Iran that then President Khatami offered.

In 2001, Iran was incredibly supportive of the American effort.  Ambassador James Dobbins, who was present at Bonn, attests to the Iran’s productive role in trying to secure a democratic future for Afghanistan.   The United States instead spurned Iran and even labeled it a founding member of the Axis of Evil. The Bush administration was profoundly clueless about Pakistan’s interests and had foolishly believed that Pakistan’s President and Army Chief Pervez Musharraf was sincere in offering his country’s help in defeating their own proxies in Afghanistan.  We know now that this was a preposterous assumption. Yet the die had been cast. The United States became singularly reliant upon using Pakistan’s air and land corridors to move supplies for the war effort. It’s efforts to cultivate a so-called “northern distribution route” failed to fructify.

Throughout the years, I reminded Americans that Iran has a port in Chabahar, which the Indians have helped to develop along with the necessary road and rail lines connecting it to Afghanistan.  I noted that Americans could work with Indian contractors to move goods from Chabahar to Afghanistan, thus providing an opportunity to further consolidate our fast-growing ties with India. Moreover, now that the American military presence is sustainable through air lift, the United States only needs ground access to resupply the Afghan National Security Forces. Most Americans recoil at the suggestion arguing that Iran is a nuclear-proliferating, state sponsor of terror. Needless to say, Pakistan is an actual nuclear-proliferating, state sponsor of terror. Moreover while Iran may be a regional headache, Pakistan is an international crisis generator. Yet the United States has had no problem shoveling $33 billion into that country, even though it uses those funds to kill our troops and allies in Afghanistan and subsidize the very nuclear coercion that keeps checks from the American taxpayer flowing to Pakistan.

Under the Obama administration, the United States made unprecedented progress in thawing relations with Iran with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA, or the so-called nuclear agreement with Iran), which opened up the serious possibility of moving supplies from the port in Chabahar. In fact, the Indians just completed its first shipment of 1.1 million tons of wheat to Afghanistan that travelled through Chabahar.  However, Trump made it clear that he would vitiate the JCPOA as a part of his larger package of programs intended to appease Israel.



Without an alternative port, the United States will have no choice but to continue working with Pakistan if it wants to remain engaged in Afghanistan, as Trump intends to do.  (The proposed troop surge is now complete with about 14,000 US troops in the country.) While Trump can tweet whatever he wants about Pakistan or Iran, the professionals on his staff know the truth: the US policy in Afghanistan requires a port with road and/or rail access to Afghanistan. And it seems that even though Pakistan is far more dangerous than is Iran, this administration—like each one before—has cast its lot with Pakistan. And this administration will confront the same failures as those before. Simply put, logistics is a bitch. You can try some clever ruses to keep her down. You can even try to slap her. But she will rise up and kick your ass to the curb every damned time.



Christine Fair is a Provost’s Distinguished Associate Professor at Georgetown University’s Security Studies Program within the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service. She is the author of the book Fighting to the End: The Pakistan Army’s Way of War (OUP, 2014) and the forthcoming In their Own Words: Understanding the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (Hurst/OUP, 2018).

A version of this was published at


The Only Thing I Learned from Jeff Cina’s Thermodynamics Class? Do the Opposite of What He Did

Dear Professor Jeffrey Cina

You likely will not remember me. I was in your thermodynamics class in 1990.  But I will never forget you, your unruly hair, and absurd Grateful Dead t-shirts which seemed to signal that you were not another supercilious, stodgy professor obsessed with himself and his own accomplishments. But, as I learned, you were.

On a Wednesday midway through the quarter, I learned that my mother was diagnosed with an advanced stage of melanoma. I came to your office hours the next day and begged you to let me take our exam, which had been scheduled for Monday, on Friday or even right then and there.  I explained to you that the exam was concurrent with my mother’s scheduled surgery. I wanted to take the exam as soon as possible so that I could get home and be with her before, during and after her surgery. She was frightened. And, I was frightened. I knew I was losing my mother. She was 43.

You would not even consider letting me take the exam early, even though you said it was already written. You explained disingenuously that grades do not matter.  I countered that grades do in fact matter. I was in your class because I wanted to do a PhD in biophysical chemistry. Your class most certainly mattered. I pointed out that the grade issue is not relevant: whether I took the exam early or on Monday I would do poorly. I wasn’t asking for any sympathy on grading. I just wanted to be with my mother during her surgery rather than in your classroom taking an exam.

You then argued that if you let me take the exam early, I would call my classmates and tell them what would be on the exam. The assertion was absurd. Why would I do that? After all, you graded on the curve and I would be taking the exam with virtually no preparation. Why would I do give those students—most of whom were unknown to me—a further advantage? Moreover, the suggestion was preposterous.  Did you really imagine me on a pay phone at the Greyhound Bus Station telling my classmates what to expect on the exam that I had just failed prior to boarding the bus for Ft. Wayne?

I met my best friend that day during your office hours. Her name was Jeanette. She was there for the same reason: she wanted to take the exam early. Her reason? Her younger sister tried to commit suicide. She and I would next endure the misogynistic rants of Bosnitch the following year.  Our friendship was forged in the crucible of the fuckery that was the Chemistry Department at the University of Chicago.

I was forced to take your exam on that Monday, which coincided nearly perfectly with the timing of my mother’s surgery. I did not know whether she would survive the surgery. I was anxious about her prognosis. I felt like a worthless wretch for not being there for putting your asinine exam before her needs.

On Monday, I cried during the entire exam. I bombed it. I couldn’t see through my own tears. I don’t recall how Jeannette faired. I can proudly say that, apart from a few dodgy men in my life, I have few regrets; however, staying on campus to take that exam is one of them. I should’ve gone home to be with my mother and sought redress through the university for your callous conduct.

I was grateful to learn many years ago that you did not get tenure at the University of Chicago.  Frankly, you did not deserve tenure because you did not appreciate your duties and obligations to your undergraduate students whose tuition in good measure paid your salary. University of Chicago undergraduates must navigate many assholes: having one fewer is a net positive. Although, knowing that place as I do, I am confident that they replaced you with another ogre who was equally insufferable.

In 1992, I left my PhD in biophysics at Yale in considerable measure to be near my mother in Indiana. Disgusted with the rampant misogyny in chemistry, I ultimately left the discipline altogether and began my PhD in South Asian Languages and Civilizations. Despite my contempt for the place, I stayed at the University of Chicago to be near my mom. She passed in late September 1993, the week before I began my PhD. I had that year with her for which I will always be grateful.

I did not immediately pursue a career in academia. I could imagine nothing less rewarding than being a pitiless martinet who treats students like nuisances rather than investments in our future.  I eventually found my way back to academia and I am now a tenured professor at Georgetown.

And this is why I am writing. You taught me a very important object lesson, albeit inadvertently: never treat students as you treated me and Jeanette and countless others.  Each semester, I begin my classes by recounting what you did or—more aptly—did not do: care about your students. I tell them that I regret taking your exam. I tell them that I am not that jackass professor who thinks her class and her exams are the most important things in their lives. I tell them if they are ill or if their parents are ill that self-care and the care of others is far more important than any given exam.  I encourage them to approach me as soon as possible so that we can find a way of fitting my class around those tragic life events that cannot be foreseen or forestalled. I tell them that if their parent is in surgery, they should be there not in my class. In fact, I insist upon it if I know about it.

Over the years, so many students have had tragedies and family illnesses.  It brings me joy that I was their ally in negotiating the competing demands of scholarship and responsibility to themselves and their loved ones. I also believe that I am teaching them the importance of empathy and compassion as they graduate and take on their own professional managerial responsibilities.

I don’t know what kind of teacher or mentor you have become in the intervening 24 years and I don’t care frankly.  But I hope—for the sake of your students—that as you grew older, you became wiser and more capable of basic human decency.  If not, it’s never too late for you to try.

Warmest Regards,

C. Christine Fair, PhD
Provost’s Distinguished Associate Professor
Georgetown University
School of Foreign Service





Dear United Airlines: Why Can’t You STOP Sucking?


December 19, 2017

Dear United Customer Service Representative

I am writing to complain about several issues associated with my recent travel to Tel Aviv (confirmation number LTRTG2).  On December 9, 2017 I traveled from Newark to Tel Aviv on UA84. After pushing back from the gate, we waited for a full 90 minutes while the plane was de-iced. I understand the reason for that delay; however, at no point during that time did anyone offer us anything to drink—not even a glass of water. I actually had my service request light on for the duration and no one came to inquire.  Not cool. That is just basic civility.

I returned to Newark from Tel Aviv on Sunday December 17, 2017 on UA91. During that flight, one of the flight attendants whose name I believe was Sandy was horribly unprofessional and not terribly competent.  (She had dark, shoulder-length or longer hair with an actual flower behind her ear. She seemed to be Asian although she could have been Hawaiian or even Inuit for that matter.) I was in a window seat (20A). During every beverage and food service she forgot me.  How is that even possible? When I attempted to get her attention, she actually yelled at me.  She was frenetic. She was throwing trays around as if she were competitively slopping hogs at a 4H fair. In her senseless frenzy, she made mistakes like consistently overlooking a 1K passenger.

Alas, that is not all she did. She also coughed all over her hands during the food service. (It is well known that one should cover their mouth using their forearm to avoid excessively contaminating one’s hands and thus sharing your germs with others…like passengers!) Part of me wondered if she were on Sudafed or some other amphetamine-based cold relief. That would account for her feverish chaos and coughing all over her hands and thus contaminating the service items with her germs.

After seeing the coughed-upon hands, I declined to eat dinner.  By the time the breakfast service came about, I was naturally starving. However, this is what was served for breakfast (after I got the attention of her colleague after she once again failed to give me a tray):


This is an international flight that was not inexpensive. I have literally eaten better food on Pakistan International Airways. Let that sink in. The national carrier of a state-sponsor of terrorism serves better food than United. (However, most of the Afghan airlines on which I have flown are on par with this. So…upside?)

Is it too much to expect edible food?  The yellow, spongy disc-like object was purported by the flight attendant to be an “omelet.”  Upon close inspection (including smelling it), I concluded that this was a mysterious egg-less product. (Note that McDonald’s had to rename their “ice cream cones” to “frozen desert” because there is no dairy product in that cone. Similarly, I do not think that thing should be called an omelet because the average person expects and omelet to be made of eggs. [Okay: Full disclosure: I just made that up. Apparently McDonalds’ DOES use dairy products.])  I presume that the red substance was once related to a tomato at one point in the remote past. But what in the name of sweet gymnast Jesus is that orange thing? Is it a carrot? If so, who thinks an over-cooked carrot is a suitable breakfast accompaniment? Is it a yam? If so, the same question obtains.  What is it and why is it there?

In short, I could not eat it. I doubt a stray cat would have eaten it. Even the coffee was redolent of sewer sludge and that’s after controlling for the fact that it was airplane coffee for which one naturally has low expectations. (I still remember fondly when United served Starbucks coffee. Those were the good ole days of flying United. You also served a reasonable facsimile of an actual omelet for breakfast back then.)

I would be remiss if I failed to note that not only was the service on the flight abysmal, it was one of the most uncomfortable flights I have had in recent memory.  This aircraft was new and the seats seemed to demonstrate the incredibly vanishing airline seat, even in “Economy Plus.” (On that aircraft, you should rename that section: Guantanamo Plus.)  I presume that this was done to make room for the revenue-generating Polaris seats?  The table was unusable given the paucity of space. The physical constraint and concomitant discomfort of my seat was bad enough; however, the gentleman sitting next to me was obese and manspread throughout the flight. His manflab flopped over my right leg as his leg intruded into my space and his excessive arm flesh hogged the arm rest. I repeatedly requested the gentleman to keep his junk in his own trunk to no avail.  It is apparent to even the imbeciles currently in the republican-led US Congress that this airline race to produce the smallest seat possible is injurious to customers bottoms while being salubrious to airlines’ bottom lines.

I’ve been a United flyer since the early 1990s. I have suffered more than 1.7 million miles with you. With each passing flight, it becomes increasingly difficult to remain a loyal flyer.  While you may be content with the knowledge that American and Delta are similarly shitty airlines and therefore you can be reasonably certain that your customers will suck up every torturous revenue-generating ruse you develop, other airlines do exist whose management do not espouse this evident ethos of “maximizing profit while minimizing loyal customers’ comfort and value.” Virgin Airlines, for example, remains an airline whose values are orthogonal to those of United and Virgin flies to most of the places to which I travel. While most of you will continue colluding to produce the most execrable flying experience imaginable, you will lose the business with those of who can afford to fly in a plane that is not the equivalent of a airborne CIA blacksite.

In conclusion, I ask you: is it too much to ask for edible food, a reasonably sized seat, attended to by moderately attentive and professional airline staff who do not cough upon the food as they hand it out calmly and, possibly, pleasantly? I think not.

So, come on guys. Get your crap together. Or I’m putting my money where my ass is: on a seat with better airline who cares about maintaining the loyalty of their customers.


Christine Fair

PS: I am sending a copy of this letter to my congressional representation in both chambers to encourage them to continue working to pass legislation to halt the ever-vanishing airplane seat!