Pakistan Displacing Iran as Crisis of ’08?

Visit for the latest news analysis and commentary from Inter Press News Service’s Washington bureau chief Jim Lobe.

It’s unquestionably premature to conclude that Pakistan may displace Iran as the most urgent foreign-policy challenge likely to be faced by the Bush administration next year, but it’s beginning to look like a distinct possibility. For evidence, see his column in the Sunday New York Times by Tom Friedman in which he somewhat offhandedly asserts, “After Iraq and Pakistan, the most vexing foreign policy issues that will face the next president will be how to handle Iran,” and, more strikingly, a second Times column co-authored by neo-conservative Fred Kagan and liberal interventionist Michael O’Hanlon, entitled “Pakistan’s Collapse, Our Problem” — the latest example of the growing partnership between the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and the Brookings Institution. “We do not intend to be fear mongers,” according to the two authors who then proceed to argue that Washington needs to focus right now on how best to intervene militarily in the Muslim world’s second-most-populous nation to secure its nuclear stockpile if and when things get out of hand there. Their optimal goal is to get those weapons to New Mexico, but, if that proves impossible [for, say, political reasons], then the U.S. should “settle for establishing a remote redoubt within Pakistan, with the nuclear technology guarded by elite Pakistani forces backed up (and watched over) by crack international troops.”

The article itself is mind-blowing in the various scenarios it depicts; sending in, for example, “a sizable combat force — not only from the United States, but ideally also other Western powers and moderate Muslim nations” — in support of “the core of the Pakistan armed forces as they sought to hold the country together in the face of ineffective government, seceding border regions and Al Qaeda and Taliban assassination attempts against the leadership”. But the fact that Kagan is widely viewed as an architect of the “Surge” in Iraq (and hence close to the White House); and that O’Hanlon, a former Clinton national-security aide, is regarded as representative of an important sector within the Democratic Party means that the article and its various scenarios are likely to be taken quite seriously in the Muslim world, most especially in Pakistan itself. And, please note, there’s no talk of the importance of democracy here; it’s all about making sure those nukes are placed in reliable (preferably our) hands. The assumption is that the “moderate” core of the Pakistani military will be the key to success and, despite any nationalist feelings it may harbor, is prepared to fully cooperate with a major foreign military intervention to ensure foreign control of its most important weapons.

I’m no Pakistan specialist; nor do I have any reason to believe that Kagan (whose expertise is German military history) and O’Hanlon are particularly learned on the subject; their operating assumptions appear highly questionable to me. But I have no doubt that their musings are indeed an indication of what is speeding to the top of the administration’s national-security agenda. Moreover, compared to the concerns they express about the fate of Pakistan’s nuclear stockpile and the lengths to which Washington should be prepared to go to secure it, the threats posed by Iran over the next year or so seem awfully tame. Now, with Musharraf appearing to have rejected the appeals of both Bush last week and Negroponte over the weekend, and the political impasse between the civilian opposition and the military under Musharraf having hardened considerably in just the past few days, a serious crisis of the kind envisaged by Mssrs. Kagan and O’Hanlon is looming ever larger. Under such circumstances, the notion that the U.S. would attack Iran seems considerably less credible, at least from Tehran’s point of view.

Incidentally, for an interesting analysis of the relationship between U.S. military intervention, the regional rise in “Islamic nationalism,” and how it plays out in Pakistan, particularly from the point of view of the Pakistani military, I strongly recommend an article by the former vice chair of the CIA’s National Intelligence Council and an expert on the region, Graham Fuller published November 8 by New Perspectives Quarterly. Fuller currently teaches at Simon Fraser University in beautiful Vancouver, B.C.

Author: Jim Lobe

Visit for the latest news analysis and commentary from Inter Press News Service's Washington bureau chief Jim Lobe.

One thought on “Pakistan Displacing Iran as Crisis of ’08?”

  1. I think the US 9/11 terror attacks where instigated by a complacent government here on Canadian soils, a tacit CSIS their intelligence counterpart and either Iran and/or British Parliament and MI5.

    In reviewing this subject matter as a physic viewer for the American Military and the Department of Homeland Defense I am left with only one conclusion.

    It is in the form of a nagging question in my mind not sufficiently answered by any actions or inactions of our American Government. It is as follows; Who stood to benefit most from the inclusion of us, the Americans, in the war on Iraq and consequently the war on any countries soil in the tired euphemism called the war on terrorists?

    And, the answer is the wealthiest families of Iran, Sudan, and Her Majesty the Queen of England. Both sides in these opposing forces seek one commonality. The inferior prices of foreign oil on the worlds open markets in constant demand in the state of India. Modern India, a British borne former colony still passes as the worlds largest supplier of wheat, corn and barley or livestock feed. Much in demand in these opposing forces countries and yet one which is readily identifiable as the liquidity point of modern oil price infrastructure. ie, The end product.

    Who stood most to benefit from the disruption a full scale military style campaign waged in both of these two countries of oil supply, Afghanistan and Iraq? The English Government et al. A country so steeply mired in political hate and the constant target of any and all previous foreign aid in the form of attack and arrest of asset producing countries lying between the east and the west from foreign buyers. An island state with limited capacity to produce corn, food and vegetables it must import all if not nearly all common food staples and these prices must remain effectively low for the nation of England not to become the strangle hold of it’s staples trading partners. Up until very recently as the war progressed both Canada and the EU refused to declare the country of India as a state of emergency even though it is in most clearly dire straights. The long term effect of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and Canada’s willingness to trade with them in opium and ephedra.

    Now who had a hand in this. Most certainly not us, the United States, us being one of the most self sufficient corn, oil byproduct and wheat producers on the globe. A country which essentially can in and of itself sustain itself locally and commercially for quite some time to come without any need for basic commodity price structures which prevent or limit the amount of foreign aid capital we are willing to invest in the nature of countries such as India or say even a Tehran.

    A country that up until that fateful day and event had no other interest in the middle east other than the normal course of foreign politics, albeit for better or for worse. But certainly not one with any future plan to engage in any long term military affair overseas designed to drain our economy, zap our military might and cause a virtual mutiny aboard the good ship America.

    Which brings me back to my very first question. Who stood to benefit most from sucking us into yet another one of their losing wars. Most definitely and certainly not us, not any single one us Americans alive today, not even the crazy White House, at times it seems, would have anything to do with so ludicrous a plan as to demolish two buildings, blow up half of the Pentagon, kill thousands of people, set the world on fire and then deliver the death blow to our nation over time by being the instigator of a war we cannot continue to wage forever, against an army that never shows up, in a world that does not care for us.

    But, who did. There is only one country in the world who has been consistently engaged in an extreme war of political, suicidal, racial and bigoted terror on it’s home front, England, and has done and been so for the past twenty five years.

    So, when the questions come up of “lone squib” theories I tend to agree. But I can not, do not and will not see a possible future for the Americans at large and the American state to be permanent features of question or doubt in this mad chaos. Only the Government of England and it’s last standing colonial ally Canada stand as a threat to our country in this. Because there is no possible motive for our countries involvement in Al Queda affairs, yet these two countries combined stood to gain the most ground, both militarily, financially and through intelligence of our full scale strengths. These two nations in partnership remain the only unanswered question mark or focal point in my minds eye.

    So, in the 9/11 whodunit mystery my answer is to use the coined term “Occam’s Razor.”

    Who had the most to lose, us. Who had the most to gain, them; Canada and England. And who had the military intelligence, prowess and afore thought to pull this off besides us. MI5 and CSIS.

    Sincerely yours,

    Norman Christian Hoffmann

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