Coming Nuclear Flashpoint (Page 4 of 4)

At that point, cool heads in New Delhi probably will see that India’s rapid move into Afghanistan was based on the wrong but understandable conclusion that Washington meant to defeat its 9/11 attackers. Undone by US-NATO fecklessness, they will also see that what once was a glittering economic and diplomatic opportunity has been transformed into a potentially war-causing question of national honor, willpower and prestige.

If India leaves Afghanistan, there’s no way to avoid having the Taliban, Pakistan and all the Muslim world perceive the common-sense Indian departure as anything but a victory for Islam over Allah’s polytheist enemies. Unavoidably, India’s Afghan withdrawal will be seen as a triumph for Pakistan that restores its strategic depth; as an act that puts a huge dent in New Delhi’s oft-stated ambition to be a regional superpower; as a signal to India’s growing Islamist militant movement and its foreign backers that Hindu power is not invincible; and, by Beijing, as a sign of India’s lack of resolve at a time of rising Indo-Chinese tensions.

It’s nice to think that when this no-win situation becomes clear, New Delhi and its generals will have the thick-skin and toughness to decide the Afghan game is not worth the candle. (And that their counterparts in Islamabad are adult enough to forego public gloating.) For New Delhi, realism dictates that a major military effort in Afghanistan is not sustainable, and that it isn’t worth introducing the massive Indian force needed to try to protect India’s Afghan investment only to fail and perhaps set in motion events that could potentially lead to a nuclear confrontation with Pakistan.

Sadly, few governments in history have ever had the courage to get out of quagmires while the going was good. The US surged in Iraq and Afghanistan and still lost both wars, for example, and Russia is now losing its second war in the North Caucasus. At day’s end, the need of both New Delhi and Islamabad to save face and protect their strategic interests may well lead to the brink of a nuclear disaster over Afghanistan, which, to paraphrase Bismarck, probably isn’t worth the bones of one Indian grenadier.


Michael Scheuer is the author of ‘Imperial Hubris’ and former chief of the CIA’s Bin Laden Issue Station. He writes regularly for

February 23, 2012 at 12:56

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February 21, 2012 at 22:58

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February 21, 2012 at 08:43

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November 15, 2011 at 18:17

I’m not sure where you are getting your info, but good topic. I needs to spend some time learning more or understanding more. Thanks for wonderful info I was looking for this info for my mission.

November 24, 2010 at 05:14

Ehsan Afridi, of course you Pakistanis do not want us from west to speak for your suppressed minorities, but you do want our money in billions. If you are that proud refuse to take our aid. we would be happy to see our money used to help people here to cope with economic crisis and see for yourself how long you last.

November 4, 2010 at 17:19

One contry having their nuke programme with the help of foreign aid,foreign help as well as with foreign technology.Entire world know it.

Ehsanullah Afridi
October 16, 2010 at 04:48

india supported the Tamil Tigers for over 3 decades! What are you talking about?

Pakistan sent weapons, and PAF pilots to help neutralize the problem. China also helped a lot. Thanks to us, and the bravery of Sri Lankans, tamils were crushed.

problem solved…

Ehsanullah Afridi
October 16, 2010 at 04:47

What the heck are you talking about? Pakistan’s nuclear capability and delivery systems are all Pakistani made, with Pakistani blood and sweat; yes we did receive outside assistance, but the facilities and infrastructure all is our own

maybe you need to learn more before speaking

Ehsanullah Afridi
October 16, 2010 at 04:40

What a joke! india back-stabbed Iran so many times; when they voted against Iran nuclear program @ UN (And favoured sanctions); when they helped launch israeli spy satellite; etc; not to mention when you ran away like cattle from the IPI deal due to American pressure (Pakistan and possibly China are still in)

india tends to be quite ”sissy” when confronted by pressure

Ehsan Afridi
October 16, 2010 at 04:38

Who brainwashed you? There is no Shiia Sunni rivalry. All Muslims are united and dont think this way –even though there are bad apples who do have your way of thinking.

sorry to break it to you…your divide and conquer mentality will fail miserably

Ehsan Afridi
October 16, 2010 at 04:35

What hogwash!!! The Pashtuns of Pakistan are extremely pro-Pakistan; we are known for our fierce patriotism

We don’t need westerners like you to speak on our behalf. Thanks.

as for the article, Pakistan will not allow hindustan to get influence or depth in Afghanistan. As soon as the NATOs are gone, odds will tilt in our favour. Afghanistan is our backyard –even Karzai said Afghanistan is conjoined twin of Pakistan. We are fairly well entrenched there….just need to ”ride out the waves” a little longer and see what happens! =)

John Smith
September 30, 2010 at 04:37

Here is a different approach India can take to win them all. Since Muslim nations are never at ease with each other when the external threat is absent. India can leave Afghan with NATO at the same time. After a while the quarrel about who is a good Muslim will break out between different branches of Islam, India can return to Afghan as a good mediator. This strategy will avoid the danger of nuclear flash point between India and Pakistan, as well as establish India as a good partner to all Muslim nations.

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