Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity

Pakistan may lose the war in Afghanistan

It is not likely that the new book on Charlie Chan (Charlie Chan: The Untold Story of the Honorable Detective and His Rendezvous with American History by Yunte Huang) contains the aphorism, "War like bamboo; once started, hard to contain," since, among other reasons, I just made it up. Still, that happens to be the case, and for proof of that just look at what is happening to Pakistan. It may lose the war in Afghanistan.

Pakistan teeters. Today's Post says that the Obama administration now frets about that nation's stability. The Pakistani military is making those low, growling noises that precede a coup or an attempt to place yet another civilian at the head of the government. At the same time, the government that remains is making a show of slapping down NATO for the occasional air strike that kills Pakistani civilians. As with the drone attacks, the government pretends abhorrence -- but would find their cessation even more abhorrent.

The problem with Pakistan is Afghanistan. The war next door has pushed the Taliban into the rugged no-man's land of Pakistan. NATO, meaning mostly the United States, chases the Taliban there, spreading the war and helping to destabilize a country that was already on the edge. This could have been foreseen. It is what happened in Vietnam. The war there spread to both Cambodia and Laos. To say that both governments were destabilized is to compliment the Khmer Rouge. They were imploded.

The classic example of a war that got way out of control is, obviously, World War I. Before your knew it, the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo resulted in Turks and Arabs duking it out in the Arabian desert and Brits and Germans even fighting in Africa. All of Europe got involved, and so did its colonies and former colonies way away from the Balkans. Aussies and Kiwis fought at Gallipoli, which was not only a long way from Tipperary, but on the other side of the globe from Canberra.

Now a new book, Richard Overy’s "1939: countdown to War" shows that not even Hitler knew how to contain war. I say "not even" because early on Hitler was assumed to be in control of events. It was his war. He started it, and it was assumed he wanted it. Not so, Avery says. Hitler wanted a wee war with Poland, a minor dust-up that would have given him Poland and the Danzig Corridor. He absolutely believed that the British and the French would chicken out, as they had done at Munich. Of this, he was assured by his foreign minister, Joachim von Ribbentrop. When they instead issued an ultimatum, "Hitler turned to Ribbentrop with a savage look and asked, "What now?" Overy writes.

Britain and France had had it with Hitler. They had a commitment to Poland, and they were going to honor it. Hitler was both shocked and shaken. He had assured his generals that the war would be contained and that, in fact, the pact he had signed with Stalin had virtually assured a limited war. He was wrong, disastrously so as far as his generals were concerned. They did nothing about it, of course. The plot against Hitler came much later -- much too late.

It may not be always thus, but it is often thus. Wars have a way of spreading. The chaos of violence is not containable. This is what's happening in Pakistan on account of a war that President Obama didn't really want to fight in the first place. NATO can't win this war. Afghanistan can't win it. But Pakistan sure can lose it.

By Richard Cohen  | October 1, 2010; 9:28 AM ET
Categories:  Cohen  | Tags:  Richard Cohen  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Obama's view from Olympus
Next: Colbert turns truthiness into truth

Comments

The Author’s unmitigated bigoted drivel is biased, it has serious errors in it and is typical of the anti-Pakistan tripe so pervasive in some racist quarters these days. It is very disappointing to see this esteemed publication chose to reproduce such a rambling crypto-racist screed. The author’s Teutonic bloviations are an admixture of discredited Neocon assertions, unsubstantiated, or outright Indian distortion, and pure unadulterated balderdash. His nauseating fixation upon and paranoid conspiratorial delusions about Pakistanis are a transparent attempt to justify the murderous rampage, carnage and barbarism faced by West Asia. The twaddle fails to illuminate the confusing deluge of eerily inept and counter-intuitive claptrap masquerading as fact in the clumsily stage-managed "global war on terror" environment.
The Author’s selective amnesia fails to consider the fact that more than 4000 Pakistanis have died fighting the so called “war on terror”, and Pakistan has been a US ally since 1947. The author has flaunted the cynosure of neo-liberal romance with India, to justify his Pakistanphobic bigotry against Islamabad.
The US "aid" is neither magnanimous, nor huge. Peanuts cannot replace $20 billion per year losses incurred by Pakistan due to the US war in Afghanistan. The US abuses Pakistani roads and bases and pays nothing for the usage. Actually Kerry-Lugar's attempt to help US corporations. Half of the "aid" is spent on US consultants. 25% is spent on logistics and admin. less than 25% is handed out to the US Ambassador's favorite NGO to be deposited back in Swiss accounts. Pakistan needs market access, a Free Trade Agreement and ROZs.
Pakistanis have been living on the Indus and dealing with the Afghans for centuries—both are part and parcel of the land—conjoined twins. Lectures from the Potomac achieve nothing.
This article is typical of the Ugly American which displays hubris of an ingrate nation.
http://rupeenews.com/2010/03/2.....s-from-us/

Editor Rupee News
http://www.rupeenews.com

Posted by: moinansari | October 1, 2010 9:52 AM | Report abuse

The mistake was not allowing the then USSR to acquire Afghanistan.

Posted by: johnson0572 | October 1, 2010 10:43 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: moinansari | October 1, 2010 9:52 AM
========================
Apparently you think your post is very intellectual and well written but you don't make much of a point.

For brevity's sake you could sum it up as "you're racist and you have Indian bias."

Then you insult Americans.

Pakistan gives half ditch efforts to fighting terrorism because there are a lot sympathetic to it.

Granted large portions of Pakistan would be hard to control so it is not an easy task but trying to act like Pakistani officials are "trying to fight the good fight" is a load of garbage.

Just remember when 0 Americans want to give aid for things like the flooding what you think about Americans. Maybe if Pakistan could control its population and not keep repressing itself into the stone age things would get better.

Posted by: Cryos | October 1, 2010 11:52 AM | Report abuse

American troops in Afghanistan are going to leave one day, but if the Pak army goes back to its jihadi path (or fails to prevent its territory being used by transnational jihadis) then it should be ready for counter-efforts by many states, not just by India...and it should be ready for its own pet jihadis one day grabbing those defence colony plots and Fauji foundation factories. The army's jihadi policy was bound to end in disaster one way or the other. We are lucky the disaster that actually came was American. The American army is RELATIVELY careful of civilian casualties and America's first preference is to buy their way out of trouble. If 9-11 had not happened and we had gone on with this jiahdi business unimpeded, we could have had thermonuclear war with India or (more likely) a larger civil war against out-of-control jihadis, without the benefit of American "war on terror" subsidies to buttress the position of the corrupt ruling class....
The Pakistani army (and perhaps Ansari sahib) seems to believe that they are "winning" in Afghanistan. If this is victory, then one shudders to think what defeat would look like. The army narrative is that America is pulling out and Pak army are the gatekeepers and they will make the Americans pay throught their nose and bloody indians will get a black eye and whatnot. I think the only part of this theory that is correct is that America may pay them for the next 2-3 years. If India is foolish enough to get into a proxy war with them in Afghanistan, then India will bleed too, but if Manmohand Singh is smart enough to keep his head, then India may stay out of this swamp.

Indian hawks (who are at least as dumb as Pakistani ones) will whine and cry about strategic setbacks and whatnot, but if they dont get into a shooting war with Pakistan, they will become a mid-level power in a few years and the hawks will make better money too, so the bitterness will be less painful with time.
I don't know what Kiyani sahib is thinking (he certainly seems smarter than his buffoonish predecessor) but the army fans on the internet seem to have convinced themselves that Pakistan has successfully moved from nineties style salafist jihadism to a more india-centric, modern Pakistani nationalism (Jihadi lite) that is compatible with American aid, yet fully energised against any attempt to reverse military domination of Pakistani policy. I guess when they meet their friends it looks like EVERYONE in Pakistan is with them. But it looks to me like this new and fragile concoction (jihadism without hardline jihad) has no future at all. Nineties Pakistani jihadism was wedded to salafist Islam, which is a real ideology, a religious movement with a 1400 year old history. This new mashup of 8th grade islamic studies, pakistan studies and conspiracy theories is the emptiest of empty shells. There is no there there.

Posted by: oali | October 1, 2010 1:56 PM | Report abuse

lets hope pakistan does lose the war in afganistan else their terrorism based foreign policy would have won its first victory

when will the usa realize pakistan is the worst state sponsor of terrorism - maybe not until some paki blows up a car bomb in times sq ny ny

Posted by: jojostar999 | October 3, 2010 2:02 PM | Report abuse

Post a Comment

We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge washingtonpost.com's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features.

User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions.




characters remaining

 
 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company