Thursday, April 23, 2009
The potential Pakistani Nightmare
The Secretary of State of the United States, Hillary Clinton, testified before the United States Congress yesterday that the growing problem in Pakistan is a “moral threat,” to the world. Such language is extraordinarily strong for a diplomat, especially for one with the experience on the world stage Secretary Clinton has.
Secretary Clinton’s strong language is no exaggeration of the situation. Pakistan is a political and security mess. Since General Pervez Musharraf stepped down as President of Pakistan in August of 2008, Pakistan has been on a slippery slope to control by the Taliban and other terrorist groups.
According to the BBC (British Broadcasting Company) the Taliban now has control of the large Swath Valley area, with the government giving it power to enforce Islamic law instead of national law. The Taliban is now in control of the local areas just a little more than sixty miles from the Pakistan capital Islamabad. Thousands of Pakistanis are fleeing the region as schools are closed and strict adherence to Seventh Century Islamic law is enforced.
While the United States and its allies has kept, albeit with a few setbacks, the Taliban from returning to power in Afghanistan, where the terrorists trained for the September 11th attacks, the real prize for the Taliban might be Pakistan. In terms of economic wealth, infrastructure and military prowess, Pakistan is decades beyond Afghanistan. Pakistan has nuclear weapons, and from various reports, the means to deliver such weapons to Israel and India. If the Taliban takes control of the government in Pakistan, there will be no need to worry about Iran’s nuclear intentions any longer. Islamic extremists will have, with control of Pakistan, control of a modern military complete with nuclear weapons.
There are several reasons why such a movement by the Taliban is happening. First, they are fanatics, and fanatics never stop until they are dead. Fanatics negotiate to live and kill their foes another day.
Second, the United States appears weak. People who are willing to die and kill innocent people do not respect our queasiness over light torture. The constant media attention about what the Obama Administration will do to the Bush Administration over light torture of enemy combatants does not win President Obama or the United States favor. Instead, it is seen as weakness. As criminals will not stop entering homes and stealing if homeowners remove their locks, the terrorists will not stop attacking because President Obama wants to play nice.
Further, the United States appears weak because it no longer appears invincible. In the immediate aftermath of September 11th, then Secretary of State Colin Powell told the Pakistanis that they were either with us against us. America was powerful and filled with a terrible resolve, so Pakistan stood by the United States. However, with a public that no longer seems to have the resolve for war, a economy in crisis and a Pentagon that had secret plans to the new F-35 hacked into and stolen, the terrible giant seems to our enemies tired and weak. To them, now is the time to attack and defeat us.
To her credit, Secretary of State Clinton sees the situation in Pakistan as it is. The problem that the Secretary and all other Americans face is whether or not the seemingly naïve President she works under and the pandering leadership of the United States Congress understand what is going on as well. Indeed, the fall of Pakistan into Taliban hands could unleash nightmarish consequences.