Tuesday, January 08, 2008

A nuclear Taliban

The conflict in Pakistan is one in which we all have a direct stake, says Robert Tracinski. "Not only is Northwest Pakistan serving as a safe haven for Taliban fighters fighting US and NATO troops in Afghanistan, but Pakistan is the only majority-Muslim nation that has nuclear weapons."

There is a "three-way battle" for control of Pakistan, says Tracinski, "pitting dictator Pervez Musharraf against two very different opponents—a liberal, Westernized urban middle class, and radical Islamists allied with al-Qaeda. It is vital to [all] our interests that Pakistan's liberals win—and that its Islamists are prevented from taking control of the country's nuclear weapons."

After the assassination of Benazir Bhutto however, American foreign policy in Pakistan is in trouble.  Says Elan Journo at the Ayn Rand Institute, that's no surprise: it was "in disarray long before the assassination."

U.S. diplomats have been scrambling for months to do something about the growing power of Islamists in the nuclear-armed nation which Washington hails as a “major non-NATO ally.” Having supported President Musharraf’s authoritarian regime, Washington helped broker the deal to allow Bhutto back into Pakistan, hoping she might create a pro-U.S. regime, but then decided to push Musharraf to share power with Bhutto, then insisted that he’s “indispensable,” but also flirted with the idea of backing Bhutto.
All this against the backdrop of the creeping Talibanization of Pakistan. Islamist fighters once “restricted to untamed mountain villages along the [Pakistani-Afghan] border,” now “operate relatively freely in cities like Karachi,” according to Newsweek. The Taliban “now pretty much come and go as they please inside Pakistan.” They are easily slipping in and out of neighboring Afghanistan to arm and train their fighters, and foster attacks on the West.
Why has Washington proven so incapable of dealing with this danger to U.S. security? The answer lies in how we embraced Pakistan as an ally.

There is no conspiracy here from the US, just vacillation and appeasement. Read on here to find out why it was American weakness rather than strength that encouraged the crisis whereby Islamic totalitarians have got closer than ever before to getting their hands on nuclear weapons.

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