20090216

Next Stop : Pakistan

They have fled Iraq for Afghanistan. For many, it was a way back to where it all started. Others learned their trade in Iraq, a giant terrorist training camp created by George W. Bush in his fundamentalist crusade in a country that really didn't need this kind of touristic resorts.

Now that a surge is on the way to Kabul and Southern Afghanistan, they are touring Pakistan beyond their usual Northern safe havens.


Pakistan is not safe, and the economical, social, and political situation worsened since last November, when I wrote these already gloomy lines (see "Lessons from Mumbai ?") : "The main target in the Mumbai attacks was Pakistan, the weaker link, and the democracy the most likely to fall for fundamentalism if the international community fails to help it help itself."

44 started using the same military quick fixes as 43/36* : air strikes as "surgical" as Israel's bombs on Lebanon or Gaza. But make no mistake : diplomacy is on its way. Not the naive, vintage dovish kind of diplomacy, but resolute and fair.


Diplomacy is on its way, and Barack's most lethal weapons are on their way : ahead of Hurricane Hillary, "diplomatic equivalent of a hydrogen bomb" AfPak envoy Richard Holbrooke met with Hamid Karzai... and The H. Bomb clearly avoided the kind of toasts Carter shared with Shah Reza Pahlavi over 30 years ago.

Last week, a local governor made an international show of a bonfire of puppy crops and illegal drugs seized in his region. A small step for Afghanistan, but a major leap out of the loop for ever the media magnet Karzai.

A surge on the ground, elections and potentially new faces at the helm of the country... change is probably coming to Afghanistan.

A Taliban surge, a catastrophic economic downturn, déjà vu short sighted legal and constitutional compromises with fundamentalists, radical factions fueling the seeds of civil war... change is surely coming to Pakistan.

President Obama must keep his eyes on the ball. Keeping in mind the fact that dancers are once again changing ballrooms.


* not Lyndon Baines Johnson but George Walker Bush : 43 has just been awarded the 36th position in the best POTUS contest. Dubya's behind Hoover but before Fillmore - the latter does have the name of a villain in a Harry Potter book, while W. enjoys the fame of Daddy Herbie (41 went up from #20 to #18).

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