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Stirring the Pot in the “Stans”

Published: September 29, 2009, Author: MHirch

The NATO coalition operating in Afghanistan and the US Central Intelligence Agency operating in Pakistan are engaged in a war against a non-governmental organization (al Qaeda) and against non-state warriors (Taliban). Hundreds of combatants are being killed while thousands of civilians are also being killed. The unintended consequence of such mayhem?–growing opposition to NATO and the US in particular by the more than 7 million people of Baluchistan (occupying 48% of Pakistan) and the 33 million people of Pashtunistan (in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.  The NATO and US war in the region is destabilizing these two indigenous nations and at the same time destabilizing Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan (Afirpak region).

US president Barak Obama faces the challenge of deciding whether the United States will escalate the conflict in the Afirpak Region or deescalate to cool the conflict. Escalation will draw the nations of Baluchistan and Pastunistan into the war as major combatants. The war against al Qaeda and the Taliban will become a war against two major indigenous nations in the region. This is a trap I warned would be set when I wrote about al Qaeda’s tactical approach to involve indigenous nations in its challenge to the US. The US government lacks knowledge and experience with indigenous nations. It is ill prepared to fight.  And, for Mr. Obama, what would be the strategic goal? What political goal will be achieved through escalation?

Stirring the pot in the “stans” is already producing unintended consequences risking the reality of a regional war with no end except when the US military becomes completely exhausted. Stop stirring the pot…and cool the soup. There is no strategic objective for the US to open war fronts against to “stan” nations. It is time to deescalate and think of a new approach…collaboration with Baluchistan and Pashtunistan might be a good beginning.

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