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Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Peril of Pakistan

As if the situation in Pakistan wasn't precarious enough, there are now rumblings that the upcoming Indian elections could push that country into a more confrontational posture with its northwestern neighbor.

Should India's hawkish Bharatiya Janata Party take power, Pakistan could be caught in a deadly vise, with a forced redeployment of military might to the Indian border and away from the Taliban. The Pakistani Taliban have already demonstrated they have the clout to force a near-complete capitulation from the Pakistani government in the Swat province -- and the Taliban have since consolidated rival factions in North and South Waziristan.

The situation in Pakistan has almost nowhere to go except further into chaos. Almost any regime change in Pakistan -- with the possible exception of a military coup -- is going to create an intractable problem for U.S. national security, and one that will dwarf both Iraq and Afghanistan in the final analysis.

It's hard to imagine any outcome that helps either U.S. or regional security interests, and it's far too easy to imagine any number of outcomes that end with a nuclear detonation. History will harshly judge the American failure to anticipate the impending disaster of Pakistan. It was all too predictable -- and it was eminently predictable before the U.S. squandered its resources and alliances on an unnecessary war in Iraq.

The problem of Pakistan was daunting before Iraq. Now, it's virtually impossible. At this stage, we're left with only a bare hope that some unexpected and improbable miracle can change the playing field before it's too late.

UPDATE: And less than 12 hours later, here's a punctuation mark on this comment from the always impressive Long War Journal:

Waziristan Taliban alliance declares support for Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar


Views expressed on INTELWIRE are those of the author alone.



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INTELWIRE is a web site edited by J.M. Berger. a researcher, analyst and consultant covering extremism, with a special focus on extremist activities in the U.S. and extremist use of social media. He is a non-resident fellow with the Brookings Institution, Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World, and author of the critically acclaimed Jihad Joe: Americans Who Go to War in the Name of Islam, the only definitive history of the U.S. jihadist movement, and co-author of ISIS: The State of Terror with Jessica Stern.


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