Tuesday, September 16, 2008

War in Pakistan?

Could be. The "staunch ally" of the United States has told its troops "to open fire" if US troops launch any more raids across the border from Afghanistan. I'd imagine this is a serious corner for them to be turning.

Will this mean war? Given that Pakistan has never been very forthright about tracking down those al-Quaida or Taliban fighters who are hiding within its borders, and that the US has good reason to believe that there are plenty such fighters hopping back and forth across the border to attack them, I'd say it would be pretty stupid to imagine that there couldn't possibly be war between the US and Pakistan.

Christopher Hitchens says that Barack Obama is serious about dealing with Pakistan. I don''t' know if it's fair to say "only Obama"- I'd imagine that McCain would also deal with Pakistan, although the US has pussyfooted around Pakistan for quite some time now. Bernard-Henri Lévy's book "Who Killed Daniel Pearl?", which I talked about here a few years back, made the same point about the ISI, the Pakistani secret service, being largely sympathetic to the Islamic terrorist organizations: "the most rogue of the rogue states", as he put it.

So, war with Pakistan seems more plausible than war with Russia, for example. And, actually, it makes a bit more sense than war with Iraq.


Brian Dunbar said...

My uninformed reading of the situation is that Pakistan might not be able to actually get at the areas where the terrs hide out.

Sure, they've got an army, but they don't really control those areas: on paper the army can do the job, politically if they tried they might get their ass handed to them: this would be sub-optimal for the Pakistani government.

At any rate, it's a recognized border and I don't think we have any business going across unless invited.

Rufus said...

I guess the problem is that the troops in Afghanistan keep getting in these fights where they have to quit when the the people they're fighting cross over into Pakistan. I don't know what you do in that situation. Is there any other way to handle it, since the Pakistani army isn't much help, other than to accept the situation as is?

Brian Dunbar said...

I have no idea.

You can't win if the bad guys have a sanctuary that can't be touched.

If I was running things I'd work out a deal with Pakistan where we identify targets and go in while they look the other way.

Perhaps we've been doing this - we can't do it all the time or it would be pretty overt. Maybe this time the Pakistanis didn't get the word, or things changed inside the Paki government.

Another way would be to work inside Pakistan so the government can go in and route them out. I have no idea how to do that.

Rufus said...

I get the feeling that there's a pretty heated power struggle going on in Pakistan between those who actually are allies and those who are allied with these radical groups. It seems to me that this struggle could turn into an outright civil war within the next decade, in which case the next President will likely have to act. The big thing to remember is that Pakistan has the bomb, so nobody wants to stir things up there.

Anyway, it's a fustercluck no matter who ends up having to deal with it.