Damned if you do, damned if you don’t

With all the talk of Pakistan and the Taliban being 60 miles from Islamabad (as if they have tank divisions or conventional forces), I’d like to consider just a few things.

1) The Taleban are an insurgent group, not conventional fighters. If they try to become one, they will be decimated by the Pakistan army just as happened for example during the Tet Offensive.

2) From Pakistan’s perspective, support for the Taliban is a hedge against the future withdrawal of NATO from Afghanistan and a slowing or stop of US support. Remember, the US and Pakistan had bad relations since 1989 when the US lost interest and slapped Pakistan with host of nonproliferation sanctions. Pakistan sees the US as an unreliable ally and fair weather friend. Hence, if Pakistan truly does turn on the Taliban and wins, it will inevitably lead towards a situation where the US/NATO accomplishes its mission and leaves. Then Pakistan will be left alone to fight India with no ally in Afghanistan and fewer proxy forces.

India is still seen as Pakistan’s primary threat while the opposite is of course not true.What are the US/NATO’s options here?

About Chirol

Sir Ignatius Valentine Chirol (1852 - 1929) was a journalist, prolific author, world historian, and British diplomat. He began his career as a foreign correspondent and later became editor of the London Times. After two decades as a journalist he joined Her Majesty's Foreign Ministry as a diplomat and was subsequently knighted for his distinguished service as a foreign affairs advisor. Additionally, he wrote a dozen books on foreign affairs including The Far Eastern Question (1896), Serbia and the Serbs (1914), The End of the Ottoman Empire (1920) and The Egyptian Problem (1921). He is generally credited with popularizing "Middle East" in reference to the Arabian Peninsula with his book The Middle Eastern Question (1903). "Chirol" is a US citizen and graduate student studying Defense and Strategic Studies and government contractor. As with the historical Chirol, he has traveled to over two dozen countries and lived abroad for many years. Chirol speaks English and German fluently with basic knowledge of manyl of others.
This entry was posted in General and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Damned if you do, damned if you don’t

  1. The US needs to identify a realistic goal, achieve it and then withdraw. And I don’t believe a western democratic model of governance in Afghanistan is a particularly realistic goal. Perhaps some semblance of tribal federalism might work, but visions of a functional, national ballot box seem a bit lofty.

    I also think the media sensationalism about the Taleban and their threat to the Pakistani state is a bit over done. I have a rather difficult time believing that the ISI and the military (much less the public) are going to stand aside and allow Pakistan to devolve into some 10th century backwater under the auspice of the Taleban.

    What’s going on in Swat looks to be the result of:

    -US/NATO pressure causing the Taleban to move east into lands “non operational” for US/NATO forces.

    -Pakistan attempting to maintain some semblance of the days of yore (when they mastered the proxy’s you mention) while at the same time maintain an illusion of hard nosed anti-terrorism (which has proven lucrative.)

    It’s a mess and unless the US is willing to commit to either some very violent, kinetic tactics or decades of nation building efforts, the strategies, thus far, don’t seem very realistic.