December 8, 2008

MACHINE DREAMS:

Risk Factors (George Packer, December 15, 2008 , The New Yorker)

Some commentators have simply demanded that Pakistan rid itself of the virus of extremism that threatens its own security as well as its neighbors’. But which Pakistan is going to do it? The weak civilian government of President Asif Zardari? The two-faced security services? The tribal leaders along the Afghanistan border? The huge, overwhelmingly poor, tumultuous population? The core problem is that Pakistan is no longer really a country, if it ever was. “Our Pakistan strategy is hopelessly at odds with reality,” David Kilcullen, a former counterinsurgency adviser to the State Department, said. “We treat it as an earnest but incapable ally in the war on terrorism.” In fact, some civilian elements of the government are American allies; some military elements are American enemies. The wild northwest, where Islamist militants have extended their control and created a safe haven for Al Qaeda, has thwarted those who would govern it for a long time. Lord Curzon, the British viceroy of India at the turn of the last century, fumed, “No patchwork scheme—and all our present recent schemes . . . are mere patchwork—will settle the Waziristan problem. Not until the military steam-roller has passed over the country from end to end, will there be peace. But I do not want to be the person to start that machine.”

Areas that will not be governed may not be inhabited.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 8, 2008 7:07 PM
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