Posts Tagged ‘pakistan’

Pix from the forgotten war

Friday, December 5th, 2008

At least, that’s what they called the war in Afghanistan up until this year, when it started to become brutally apparent that the situation has turned to shit while we were focused on Iraq.

At any rate, here’s two incredible sets of photos. One is of U.S. soldiers in the Korengal Valley, right up alongside the Pakistani border.  Looking at the terrain (which is so hostile, supplies get flown in), you can see why empires throughout history have found Afghanistan to be a graveyard.

And speaking of . . . here’s photos of Soviet soldiers during their attempt to tame the place. Makes me think of the ending to The Living Daylights, when Timothy Dalton teamed up with the mujahideen to kick some Red Army ass. Now *there’s* a movie that failed to age gracefully. . .

The attacks in Mumbai

Monday, December 1st, 2008

The Mumbai attacks demonstrate just how much damage can be done by striking high-profile civilian targets even if you don’t have heavy weapons. Last year, U.S. intel warned of potential Al-Qaeda attacks on U.S. shopping malls; even a single gunman could do some pretty nasty damage. Attacks don’t have to be imaginative or sophisticated to get results: watching that get proved in India has increased the likelihood it will happen elsewhere.

Meanwhile, the international repercussions of Mumbai are only just beginning. It seems almost certain now that the attacks emanated from inside Pakistan, and that they had some kind of government backing (even if that just means that someone in govt turned a blind eye); the problem is that “government” in Pakistan is a very amorphous term, as the country’s split into a myriad factions—which doesn’t bode well for crisis decision-making if India start rattling its nuclear saber. Pakistan is already under enormous pressure from the Americans on its Afghan border; now it’s going to be caught in the proverbial nutcracker. Already halfway to a failed state, the Islamic Republic may complete the rest of the journey all too quickly.

Pakistan going critical

Wednesday, September 17th, 2008

Pakistan has now ordered its troops to kill any U.S. soldiers crossing the Afghan border. The media barely gave that a yawn, and the campaigns haven’t even registered it, because they’ve been too busy talking about mooses and pigs. Nonetheless, the situation over there is going critical. Ostensibly our ally in the war on terror, Pakistan has been playing every end against the middle for a while now; their Northwest tribal areas are the central bastion of the Taliban, not to mention (in all likelihood) Bin Laden himself. But those areas are about as remote and ungoverned as any place on Earth is, and the current Pakistani government enjoys no popular support whatsoever for encroaching on them.

Enter the Americans.  Who raided the Northwest areas in force last week (which was what triggered the shoot to kill orders), and who now face a classic Catch-22.  They can either (a) not go into Pakistan, and thus never win in Afghanistan (or catch Bin Laden), or (b) go into Pakistan and get shot at and potentially start yet another war.  Finesse will be called for, all the more so given that Pakistani politics in the wake of the fall of Musharraf is rapidly becoming anyone’s game to win.  And American encroachments hold the potential to radicalize those politics very quickly.  An outright jihadist takeover is an entirely plausible scenario.

In short, it’s hard to overestimate just how big of a disaster this could become.  Pakistan is the sixth most populous country in the world.  And it has nuclear weapons.  Bin Laden must be doing handstands in his cave right now.