As the Taliban continues to fight within Pakistan, the country is continuing and perhaps even ramping up its nuclear program. Since the United States has provided and plans to provide billions in military aid, these two matters are of great concern.
Pakistan is, like the United States in the Cold War, devoted to preparing for a war it hopes to never fight. In this case, the foe is India. This sort of cool war enables the Pakistani military to enjoy a substantial budget without significant risk of large scale combat (although incidents have happened). Obviously enough, Pakistan’s nuclear weapons are primarily intended for use against India. Since India is not considered hostile to the United States (after all, they provide most of our tech support), we do not have much interest in arming Pakistan against India. Rather, our main concern is with equipping them to fight the Taliban and other such insurgents.
One might wonder why Pakistan is still pouring vast resources into its nuclear program. After all, they have the problem with the Taliban. They have a serious refugee problem. They also have social problems, such as with literacy. With so many more pressing problems, it would seem to make little sense to devote so many resources to nuclear weapons.
As far as why, one reason might be the above mentioned focus on India. Nuclear weapons are actually a relatively cheap deterrent against attacks (from other nations, obviously not from insurgent groups). Hence, Pakistan might want to make sure that India won’t try to attack during this time of trouble. Of course, by worrying too much about India, they might end up falling t0 another foe. After all, if a person being chewed on by a crocodile worries more about the bear nearby, then the crocodile might well just eat him up.
Another reason is inertia. Military industrial complexes have a tendency to just roll along soaking up money because of vested interests, habit, and the power of corruption. So, the fact that the nuclear program is doing well is no shock.
Yet another reason is prestige. Nuclear weapons are today what big battleships were in the early 1900s: a mark of national pride and an instrument of influence. Interestingly, the battleships that nations poured fortunes into were quickly superseded by changes in technology and warfare. While nuclear weapons are still impressive killing machines, they are hardly an effective counterinsurgency weapon. Unless, of course, you simply want to kill everyone in a city.
One reason that might seem rather cynical and a bit scary is that Pakistan might be keeping up the nuclear development as a means of goading the United States into giving them even more money. After all, the bigger their nuclear program, the bigger the concern on the part of the United States. After all, it would be bad if the Taliban got its hands on the existing nuclear weapons. It would be even worse if the Taliban got its hands on even more and even better nuclear weapons. So, perhaps the folks in Pakistan are playing this sort of game: “We are going to keep dumping money into nukes, so you better give us even more aid. Otherwise Al Qaeda might be nuking one of your cities. Yes, we’ll take a check.”
So, what should we do? Can we count on the rational self-interest of the folks in Pakistan to get them to focus more on the threat of the Taliban? Should we keep giving them money without strings attached? Should we try to link the money to our own goals?
My view is that our aid should be linked to our goals. This can be done by providing the resources that are needed to specifically engage in counter-insurgency operations rather than providing money. Of course, given that the US is struggling financially, perhaps we should re-think aiding Pakistan. Then again, they sort of have us-if we don’t pay them off, they might get a better deal from the Taliban or some other group.
I’m sure the Russians would give them a spectacular deal if we don’t pony up.
Michael LaBossiere says
They tended to back India in the past; but I’m sure they’d like to gain more influence.
But, as oil prices stay low and their economy teeters, they are probably less inclined to go looking for adventure these days.
shut the fuck up penis wrinkle
well everyone in Pakistan has failed to understand the logic behind the repeated concern shown by the west particularly by USA over Pakistan’s Nuclear program.The West simply don’t realize the fact that if the USA ,Russia,Israel n India can possess Nuclear weapons for their safety then why can,t Pakistan or even Iran? making Talban as reason of incapability to hold Nuke is just part of the blame Game, you don’t have any right to interfere with Defense related matters of any sovereign country when u yourself couldn’t stop from dropping bombs on Hiroshima n Nagasaki n killing Innocent people in Vietnam,Iraq N Afghanistan N the Tribal areas of Pakistan which are now a days being repeatedly bombed by US drones
1) I completely reject the idea that based on some convenient morality of equal opportunity, we should allow any country to possess nuclear weapons without a peep. In that case, felons should be allowed to carry guns; thay can’t now, but police can.
2) As the two countries stand now, India would wipe Pakistan from the map, while being able to lick its own wounds and recover, should a nuclear war between the two actually occur.
Ammar: Yes we do have the right–and the capability of interfering in your country, which seems incapable of defending itself from extremists. For one thing, we could not give them ANY money, which would be exactly what I would do. That would be an excellent way to “interfere”. Further arming the government of Pakistan, a government which has shown itself to be incompetent in most areas of leadership and security, is foolish. The Pakistani Army is perfectly capable of destroying the Taliban, but we’ve enabled them to be idiots. They keep their eyes on India. Everytime extremist groups from the border region attack India–they’ve killed thousands–we step in a make sure India does nothing. And the killing continues. India has shown remarkable restraint when it comes to reacting to attacks.
Pakistan is a corrupt, unstable and inept state. They should get no money from us, because they’ll waste it on nuke proliferation. We should let their survival instinct alone carry them through the day against the Taliban, and they’re perfectly capable of winning if they can focus. Nothing brings focus like the imminent possibility of extinction.
Yes, we did drop nuclear weapons. And less people died than if we’d done otherwise.
Michael LaBossiere says
Well, if we argue that we have a right to nukes to defend ourselves and support our national interest, then every other sovereign nation can make that same argument.
We can, of course, add various other practical and moral considerations to our argument as to why we are justified in having nukes and others are not. Or we can just be practical about it and not worry that much about the ethics.
They could make that argument and we’d be wise to ignore it.
As someone said to me the other day: Victory goes not to the evil or the righteous, but to the prepared.
Whatever our ethical position, when a nuke goes off in downtown, we’ll wish whoever had it, didn’t.