Pakistan: Now or Never?
Perspectives on Pakistan
In the eight years since the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan, political pundits have used, and largely overused, all the available historical references. We have had the comparisons to the British 19th century failures there, to the Great Game, and to the Soviet Union’s disastrous experience in the 1980s. More recently, it has been labelled ”Obama’s Vietnam”.
The latest leitmotif is the domino theory - the view that Vietnam had to be saved from communism or other Asian countries would go the same way. In the case of Afghanistan, the argument is that if it falls to the Taliban, then Pakistan too might become vulnerable – an infinitely more dangerous proposition given that it is a country of some 170 million people with nuclear bombs.
Britain’s Paddy Ashdown alluded to this idea in an op-ed in the Independent titled “What we must do to win this war in Afghanistan”. “I start from the proposition that the war in Afghanistan is one we have to fight and must win. The cost of failure there is just too great. It includes the certain fall of Pakistan and the possible emergence of the world’s first jihadist government with a nuclear weapon …” he writes.
In an article in the American Interest, analyst Stephen Biddle spells this out further by arguing that the main reason for the United States to fight in Afghanistan is to prevent it from destabilising Pakistan.