I am the Afghanistan Blogging Fellow for The Seminal and Brave New Foundation. You can read my work on The Seminal or at Rethink Afghanistan. The views expressed below are my own.
Our strategy in Afghanistan is pretty bad, but aside from the obvious broken logic of creating peace through war, I wouldn’t say it qualifies as “crazy”. Counterinsurgency is weird in its ability to co-opt humanitarian arguments about human rights and so forth, but it’s still somewhat rational considering the military is, after all, a war making institution.
But I nearly spit out coffee this morning reading through the new RAND report – “Counterinsurgency in Pakistan” by Seth G. Jones and C. Christine Fair.
Of course, it’s COIN, so I was prepared for most of the usual junk (“population-centric” bloody occupations, learn from Algeria or the Philippines or [insert incomparable favorite country from a bajillion years ago], etc). This report even had a lot of good stuff going for it, including a very honest assessment of Pakistan’s domestic unrest issues (disappearances, land ownership, foreign tariffs, etc) as well as thoughtful examinations of the history of US-Pakistan diplomatic “persuasion” techniques.
And then it got crazy fast:
The United States should consider more politically valuable initiatives, given the willingness and equities of other regional parties. While an effective U.S. role in reaching an Indo-Pakistani accommodation on Kashmir is unlikely, partly because of Indian opposition, there are at least two initiatives that could benefit Pakistan.
First is a criteria-based civilian nuclear deal for Pakistan. Pakistan complained about the exceptionalism of the Indo-U.S. nuclear deal, in which India agreed to separate its civil and military nuclear facilities and place its civil nuclear facilities under International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards. In exchange, the United States agreed to work toward full civil nuclear cooperation with India. Pakistani officials argued that its sacrifices in cooperating with the United States should merit comparable consideration. Pakistan legitimately fears that the agreement may allow India to improve and expand its nuclear weapon arsenal. Pakistan sought to undermine the Indo-U.S. deal, arguing that it would spark an arms race on the subcontinent.
That’s right, in exchange for “doing more” against the militant elements in the region, the US should give Pakistan more nukes. The report is very honest about it: It’ll be just like the deal with India, in which the US basically subsidizes the civilian nuclear industry, and “inspects” it, while the military program remains completely separate and unaccountable. Better yet, the military no longer has to compete with the civilian power industry for materials, so they’re free to weaponize countless stockpiles of enriched uranium that we specifically agree to not inspect.
That’s happening in India right now. And this report says we should do that with Pakistan. For real. This is where I look around, wondering if that sounds as crazy to you as it does to me, because apparently the folks at RAND find nuclear proliferation to be totally normal. Continue reading “Crazy COIN Strategy: US-Pakistani Nuclear Deal”