If you thought the Iranian hostage crisis was bad, just wait till Pakistan falls apart
I’m a little concerned about developments in Pakistan. More than a little concerned actually. This is easily the number one spot on the planet where all hell could break out in the near future. And by all hell, I mean a major war, possibly even a nuclear war. Usually when our leaders in Washington make hysterical claims about some grave danger we face overseas, they are exaggerating for their own propaganda purposes. In the case of the unravelling situation in Pakistan, Washington may be misstating the problem and ignoring the role they played in creating it, but there is no doubt it is a problem.
First of all, what’s going on? Well, the Pakistani government has been cutting deals with militants in its border regions. In fact Pakistan has basically ceded control of parts of Pakistan within 100 miles of the capitol to Taliban militants. Oh my. Instability has been spreading throughout Pakistan for a number of reasons. A collapsing economy. Indian meddling. Pakistan was basically forced to join a war against the Taliban that they weren’t enthusiastic about to begin with, and their war effort is falling apart. And there seems to be no doubt that America’s rocket attacks are turning Pakistanis against the USA and their own government in large umbers. This is one of the amazing examples of how war supporters have fatal tunnel vision, they can rant and rave about the rocket attacks Gaza and how even one rocket justifies Israel’s military violence, yet they can’t grasp that firing rockets into Pakistan is going to piss the Pakistanis off in the same way so many Israelis are outraged.
In any event, I digress. Adding to the problem in a huge way are the comments of our leaders in Washington. Both Clinton and General Petraeus have recently lectured the Pakistanis on how they are conducting themselves with their rebellious border provinces. Clinton was particularly harsh, basically accusing the Pakistanis of abdicating to the Taliban. Quick poll, how would Americans react if some foreign leader lectured us and told us we had to do things their way or else? To put it mildly, people would be rushing to American leaders who told the foreign leaders to butt out.
Which leads to the conclusion that Washington is trying to destabilize Pakistan, maybe with hopes of inspiring a military coup. At the very least these comments aren’t helping, and are a propaganda godsend for the Taliban and other such groups. I mean, for seven years now we have been losing ground in this part of the world, while the power and influence of our chosen enemies is increasing. Yet our only response is more troops and more threats and more rocket attacks … the very things that have been destabilizing the region for years?
God only knows what is going to happen, but at least the chances of nuclear weapons falling into the hands of the Taliban or the like is small. The Pakistani army retains very tight control of them, they no more want the Taliban to have the bomb than the USA does. And if it seems that an Islamic revolution is sweeping Pakistan, there’s no doubt that the USA /India/Israel would take military attack to destroy the Pakistani nuclear arsenal … very possibly with the support of the Pakistani military. Still, that would only add more fuel to the fire.
In some ways what most disturbs me about this mess is that western thinking on the subject never seems to change. For two centuries now British and then American armies have periodically marched through the region trying to impose our version of secular reality on them, and despite two centuries of bloody failure, we just keep doing the same thing and expecting a different result.
Maybe this will all work out OK. Obama does seem to be a little more inclined to diplomacy than Bush. A little. However, he seems to have the same blind spot as everyone in Washington regarding spending on war, no price is too high. (Well, no price in American dollars and foreign blood.) I don’t see how we can possibly invade and occupy Pakistan, yet we seem determined to forge a course where abject surrender or massive war are our only options. This is not a sound geopolitical strategy.
Maybe I’ll write a post of the ten biggest blunders in the “War on Terror,” that could be fun. Stay safe everyone and have a great weekend.
(The above image is claimed as Public Domain under British copyright law as it was executed prior to 1939. The author is unknown. It’s a nineteenth century painting of the Battle of Maiwand, where in 1880 an Afghan warlord defeated a British army in one of the few victories of an Asian army over a western one in the nineteenth century. Just another example of our endless penchant for pouring European blood on the ground in foreign parts.)