Quote of the Day

Pakistan is 173 million people, 100 nuclear weapons, an army bigger than the U.S. Army, and al-Qaeda headquarters sitting right there in the two-thirds of the country that the government doesn’t control. The Pakistani military and police and intelligence service don’t follow the civilian government; they are essentially a rogue state within a state. We’re now reaching the point where within one to six months we could see the collapse of the Pakistani state, also because of the global financial crisis, which just exacerbates all these problems. . . . The collapse of Pakistan, al-Qaeda acquiring nuclear weapons, an extremist takeover — that would dwarf everything we’ve seen in the war on terror today.

David Kilcullen

10 thoughts on “Quote of the Day”

  1. This is like the collapse-of-Saudi-Arabia idea that’s been floating around for decades: It may happen but the odds that it will happen next week or month are low. However, sooner or later something like this will happen somewhere, maybe first in Pakistan, and over time the odds that such a collapse or takeover will occur in a nuclear-armed country increase. When it happens, unless we have a plan to take or destroy the nukes ourselves, I suspect that we are going to attempt to muddle through with a strategy of containment, and I suspect that that strategy will fail.

  2. There’s a big split in Pakistan between the lowlanders and those in the mountains. The moutain people are the problem from our perspective. Fortunately, they’re all low-tech hicks, good in a kicking-and-gouging fight but lacking any broad organization or technical skill. All the brains and organization are in the lowlands which will cut our way. The lowlanders control the nukes.

    Not to say that things won’t get ugly but I don’t think there’s much of a possibility of things going atomic.

  3. “…the odds scenario with Pakistan is similar.”

    I am aware of no facts which support this statement.

    The Saudis are a pretty effective authoritarian regime.

    The Pakistanis are in a state of disarray, have large areas that are out of control, have different parts of the government working at crosspurposes, have all kinds of violent activity going on in the country all the time, had a national presidential candidate assassinated recently.

    No comparison.

    Pakistan is in much worse shape than SA.

    Shannon is right about the disparity between the hillbillies and the lowlanders. Historically, however, the hillmen have come down and kicked as on the Punjabis many times. Being low tech can be consistent with having brains.

  4. Lex, let’s look at the forest instead of the trees. My point is that predictions of the imminent disintegration of Pakistan are similiar to predictions that have long been made about the disintegration of SA. The odds may be different between the two countries, and the consequences of Pakistan falling apart would be worse, but both countries have defied the odds for a long time. The odds that Pakistan will eventually fall apart are likely to be much higher than are the odds that Pakistan will fall apart with the next X months, and IMO this is an important distinction that is often ignored.

  5. It depends on who is making the prediction, Kilcullen is in a better position than most to know what is going on.

    Saudi Arabia does not have an active war going on within its borders, as Pakistan does at the moment.

  6. A Pakistan that collapses is an apple that falls into India’s basket. And India is our ally now.

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