Sunday, March 01, 2009

Let's not get small

In a Newsweek article entitled "Learning to Live With Radical Islam," Fareed Zakaria sees the recent capitulation to the Taliban in Pakistan's Swat Valley as a nuance opportunity:
The Pakistani government is hoping that this agreement will isolate the jihadists and win the public back to its side. This may not work, but at least it represents an effort to divide the camps of the Islamists between those who are violent and those who are merely extreme.
A writer at Al Ahram, in an article with the amusing title "Honey, I shrunk Pakistan!" sees it differently:
Successive Pakistani governments are making a habit of surrendering territory and sovereignty to the Taliban in exchange for nothing. General Pervez Musharraf lost North and South Waziristan in a similar deal a few years ago and now President Asif Ali Zardari has provided the Taliban with a foothold within striking distance of Islamabad. Pakistan is slowly shriveling up. I guess the next time Benazir Bhutto's ghost visits her dear husband President Zardari, his one line report will say, "Honey, I shrunk Pakistan!"

Deals such as this one that the Pakistani government made with the Taliban are comprehensive strategic victories for the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.

One, they ensure that the over 100,000 Pakistani troops in the region are no more a threat to them or to their goals. By securing their eastern front through peace deals with Pakistan, the Taliban and Al-Qaeda are free to focus their entire firepower on American and NATO forces.

Two, the deals give the Taliban and Al-Qaeda safe havens where they can train, recruit and fundraise. These provinces give them a strategic depth against Western forces. Now they have safe homes in Pakistan to retreat and resuscitate in and return to fight another day in Afghanistan.

But the most dangerous consequence is the loss of land. The Taliban now control vast territories in the southeast of Afghanistan and north and west of Pakistan. They are steadily carving out a Talibanistan -- a state perpetually at war -- that will nestle between Afghanistan and Pakistan and prey on both of them for territory, for fighters and for resources.
This has some relevance, of course, to the undesirable prospect of shrinking Israel and expanding Hamas-stan, otherwise known as the "two-state solution."

Crossposted on Soccer Dad

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