(IsraelNN.com) Israel and the US should be focusing more on the Taliban’s rise in nuclear Pakistan than on Iran’s nuclear aims, more and more experts are saying.
“Pakistan must move to the top of our strategic agenda,” writes former US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton. Similarly, “Nuclear Taliban/Al Qaida is a far more ominous threat than nuclear Iran could ever be,” writes Byron Ellis, who heads the international Jethro Project consulting company.
Bolton, writing in The Wall Street Journal on Monday, warns that the U.S. must take “hard steps” to prevent Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal from falling into the hands of Taliban. U.S. President Barack Obama’s statement of confidence last week that the nuclear arsenal will not fall to the terrorists is “not reassuring,” Bolton writes, “in light of the Taliban’s military and political gains throughout Pakistan.”
There is a “tangible risk that several weapons could slip out of military control,” Bolton warns. “Such weapons could then find their way to Al Qaeda or other terrorists, with obvious global implications.”
Even graver is the possibility that Pakistan’s government could collapse entirely, enabling “a well-organized, tightly disciplined group to seize control of the entire Pakistani government.”
“To prevent either scenario, Pakistan must move to the top of our strategic agenda, albeit closely related to Afghanistan,” he wrote. “Neither greater economic assistance, nor more civilian advisers upcountry, nor stronger democratic institutions will eliminate the strategic threat nearly soon enough… We must strengthen pro-American elements in Pakistan’s military so they can purge dangerous Islamicists from their ranks; roll back Taliban advances; and, together with our increased efforts in Afghanistan, decisively defeat the militants on either side of the border.”
In a similar vein, Ellis writes that “Israel’s focus on Iran’s nuclear pursuit is misplaced; [Israel] should be focusing on the rise of the Taliban in nuclear Pakistan. Nuclear Taliban/Al Qaida is a far more ominous threat than nuclear Iran could ever be.”
“History indicates that Iran is… a rational nation,” Ellis argues, while “the Taliban and Al Qaida are brutally irrational and will not hesitate to use weapons of mass destruction against Israel. Thus, the Taliban/Al Qaeda nuclear threat dwarfs any imaginary Iranian threat. The international community, including Iran and Israel, must collaborate to reduce this symbolic and real threat, which could affect any nation. The international community cannot afford to commit another Bushism, expending war resources on the wrong threat. The United States needs a coalition of nations to confront the looming potential of a nuclear Taliban/Al Qaida and cannot afford any more distractions in the Middle East.”
Americans Remain Serene – or in Despair
Still, official American policy remains fairly serene. “I remain comfortable that the nuclear weapons in Pakistan are secure,” said top US military commander Admiral Michael Mullen just two days ago. Speaking at a Pentagon news conference after his recent trip to the Middle East and Asia, Mullen said he does not think the arms could fall into Taliban hands, though he added that this “is a strategic concern that we all share.”
“The immediate danger is heightened exponentially by Pakistan being one of the world’s eight nuclear powers,” columnist Joel Hilliker writes, “possessing between 60 and 100 nukes, scattered throughout the country. Amid escalating chaos, some of those bombs are sure to slip into extremist Muslim hands. Though the United States and others talk about preventing this scenario, they simply aren’t willing to take measures forceful enough. Signs are, in fact, that the Obama administration is beginning to realize this is a losing cause.”
Pakistan’s Taliban terrorists have, in fact, advanced beyond their stronghold in the Swat district and along the border with Afghanistan to within 100 kilometers northwest of the Pakistani capital, Islamabad.
US President Obama is to holds talks today (Wednesday) with the leaders of Afghanistan and Pakistan, in light of the increasing Islamist militant threat in both countries.