Wednesday, October 11, 2017
Monday, October 09, 2017
The key to solving the puzzle of Afghanistan is Pakistan
Why, after 14 years of American military efforts, is Afghanistan still so fragile? The country has a democratically elected government widely viewed as legitimate. Poll after poll suggests that the Taliban are unpopular. The Afghan army fights fiercely and loyally. And yet, the Taliban always come back. ......... Mansour lives part time in Quetta, the New York Times reports, “in an enclave where he and some other Taliban leaders . . . have built homes.” His predecessor, Mohammad Omar, we now know, died a while ago in Karachi. And of course, we remember that Osama bin Laden lived for many years in a compound in Abbottabad. All three of these cities are in Pakistan. ........ the insurgency against that government is shaped, aided and armed from across the border by one of the world’s most powerful armies. ...... It is fundamental, and unless it is confronted, the Taliban will never be defeated. It is an old adage that no counterinsurgency has ever succeeded when the rebels have had a haven. In this case, the rebels have a nuclear-armed sponsor. ....... Pakistan has mastered the art of pretending to help the United States while actually supporting its most deadly foes. ....... Omar has been dead for two years, while Pakistani officials have been facilitating “contacts” and “talks” with him. ..... young Pashtun jihadis schooled in radical Islam at Pakistani madrasas. (“Talib” means student.) ..... “Pakistan has always worried that the natural order of things would be for Afghanistan to come under the sway of India, the giant of the subcontinent. ....... see reality for what it is: “When you are lied to and you don’t respond, you are encouraging more lies.” ..... Pakistan is a time bomb. It ranks 43rd in the world in terms of its economy, according to the World Bank, but has the sixth-largest armed forces. It has the fastest-growing nuclear arsenal, and the most opaque. It maintains close ties with some of the world’s most brutal terrorists. By some estimates, its military consumes 26 percent of all tax receipts, while the country has 5.5 million children who don’t attend school . As long as this military and its mind-set are unchecked and unreformed, the United States will face a strategic collapse as it withdraws its forces from the region.
Sunday, October 08, 2017
The North Korea Question
Trump’s policy toward North Korea is founded on false assumptions that the Supreme Leader, Kim Jong-un, will give up his nuclear weapons, that China can save the day and that military options are real...... a war here would be not just a regional disaster but a nuclear cataclysm. ....... the American military estimated back in 1994 that another Korean war would cause one million casualties and $1 trillion in damage. Today, with the possibility of an exchange of nuclear weapons, the toll could be far greater: One recent study suggested that if North Korea detonated nuclear weapons over Tokyo and Seoul, deaths in those two cities alone could exceed two million........ both sides are fearful of appearing weak and are trying to intimidate the other with military bluster, but that each would prefer a peaceful resolution — yet doesn’t know how to get there politically.How about Trump and Kim holding summit talks Reagan Gorbachev style? That is better than the military option that is not even an option. This is not about political ideology. This is about avoiding nuclear catastrophe.
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