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David Hines [userpic]

oh, look, cheery news

May 9th, 2009 (09:09 am)

If you haven't seen the news recently, Pakistan is in serious shit.

No, I mean *more* serious shit. The Pakistani government did the dumb thing and handed over part of the country to the sharia-law junkies a while back, and now these guys, Taliban and their ilk, are looking to take over the country. Recently, it looked like they had a chance to move toward the capital, but they pulled back. I can tell you exactly why they did it: they want to be sure they have things set up with their supporters in the military and ISI (Pakistan's equivalent of the CIA). By which they mean, they want to be sure they'll get control of Pakistan's nukes.

I've always figured that there are two ways the vital fight against Islamism could play out. One is a process that involves the reformation and democratization of the Muslim world. President Bush thought we could start that process; I hoped to God he was right, because the other way things could go would involve a whole lot of people being dead. Well, we may not be doing the killing, but it's looking more and more to me like a hell of a lot of people are going to die. Not at our hand. Our government reportedly has a plan to seize Pakistan's nukes if the government there falls; but given the vast number of Islamist fanatics and sympathizers in Pakistan's government, I really don't think that'll be successful. They might not be able to swing stealing a nuke outright, but holding 'em back, confusing the issue so we don't recover the bombs? Cake and pie. So if Pakistan falls, their nukes are up for grabs.

Here's where I differ from a lot of the folks who believe the above: if Pakistan goes sha'ria, I don't think the first Islamist nuke would be smuggled out to a terrorist group to hit us, or to hit Israel. I think they'd hit India.

The ISI has a long history of killing people in India. The train bombings? That was Pakistan. The Mumbai attacks? That was Pakistan. And India hasn't responded, in part because their politicians are spineless and in part because they know that if they go to honest-to-gods-no-kiddin'-war, the same Pakistani factions that have no compunctions about using terrorist tactics against Indian civilians will cheerfully go nuclear. Pakistan has enough nukes to cripple India, and there are Pakistanis in positions of great power who are *itching* to use 'em. I read, years ago, an article about Pakistan's dreamers of great war, and one of the most horrifying details was a retired general who literally had a painting of Pakistani nukes being launched toward India *over his fireplace.*

Here's the thing: Pakistan has enough nukes to cripple India. But India has enough nukes to *obliterate* Pakistan.

Which means that in India, there are people who go to bed knowing that they might wake up to an unthinkable number of dead, and might have to order an unthinkable response.

I think that there are remarkably good chances that by the time President Obama leaves office, the planet will have seen its first nuclear war.


Posted by: Not your everyday Viking angel (shadowvalkyrie)
Posted at: May 9th, 2009 01:32 pm (UTC)

Cheery indeed. Remind me why I -- or for that matter anyone -- got out of bed this morning? We're all fucked anyway.

True, Pakistan vs India IS far more likely than an attack on Israel or the US, but it's not like there wouldn't be enough fundies from other countries who'd hold out their hands for a few of the nukes as a contribution to the pan-Arabic cause (an idea which made it through the centuries, and even communism unscathed and is probably more alive than anyone wants to believe), so there would be more than "just" one nuclear war around pretty soon.

Re Bush: starting a democratization process might have worked better with fewer bombs and less torture. Which is why I still think that part was nothing but a bullshit excuse for warmongering.

Posted by: Flameo, Hotman! (swatkat24)
Posted at: May 9th, 2009 07:27 pm (UTC)

I think they'd hit India.

Most Indian *know* they'd hit India. A significant section of the Pakistani establishment exists solely by defining itself as the anti-India, while India itself is the Big Bad (I'm grossly simplifying, I know).

Sorry, random passer-by here. I could not help commenting, because, well, it's something I (and everyone else in this country) has known ever since India and Pakistan 'officially' armed themselves with nuclear weapons. We've had enough wars with Pakistan even without the nuclear weapons, but with those weapons? War is unthinkable. That's why a war has not happened (more than the fact that it's unacceptable to some sections of the civil society while the rest of crazies demand 'WAR NAO').

Posted by: David Hines (hradzka)
Posted at: May 13th, 2009 04:14 am (UTC)

No worries. Glad to have you.

You guys are in an absolutely horrible spot. The only way you could be sure of coming through a war without horrifying casualties would be a nuclear first strike, and that's the kind of thing that gives democracies the willies to even *think* about.

Posted by: Flameo, Hotman! (swatkat24)
Posted at: May 13th, 2009 04:50 am (UTC)

Well India has a 'no first use' policy, whatever that might mean, so I don't think a first strike in the case of a war is likely. If only because if the country survives, the government will most certainly be booted out of power the next elections, and they cannot be having with that.

Posted by: HJ (hjcallipygian)
Posted at: May 10th, 2009 02:27 am (UTC)

Very chilling -- but I can't find ill in your logic.

That many people that hate one another that much, all within a confined space...

Posted by: Abigail Lynn (abigailynn)
Posted at: May 10th, 2009 04:44 am (UTC)

I remember very clearly asking my parents a few years ago if the world was descending into chaos--as it appeared to me--or if things had always been this insane, and I was just now becoming aware of it as an adult. They chuckled and told me it had always been like this.

Somehow I don't find that very comforting.

I've been to India a couple times, and just from my general, uneducated observations, I agree with your assessment of the relationship between those two countries.

Posted by: David Hines (hradzka)
Posted at: May 13th, 2009 04:15 am (UTC)

No, it's not comforting. I think it's interesting to see that the first nuclear exchange might not be planet-cracking, but localized nation-v-nation. Very much not what people had thought it would be.

Posted by: Maire (mkcs)
Posted at: May 10th, 2009 09:55 am (UTC)

Terrifyingly possible. Fundamentalist warmongers are, though.

Posted by: Richard D. Fox (rdfox)
Posted at: May 12th, 2009 12:59 am (UTC)

Technically, World War Two was the world's first nuclear war, since nukes were used in anger.

However, I wouldn't be surprised to see the planet's first nuclear *exchange* by the end of Obama's first term...

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