Can Pakistan Survive the Return of the Taliban?

25 November, 2009

Conventional wisdom holds that Pakistan could become at risk of destabilisation in the event of a US exit from Afghanistan. Indeed, the most persuasive practical case for bolstering troop numbers comes from Stephen Biddle of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).

Presumably, empowerment of Islamic fundamentalism in Afghanistan would lead to spill-over effects, and thus empowerment of Islamic fundamentalism in Pakistan. Is it really that simple though?

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The Importance of Property Rights

27 October, 2009

Afghanistan FlagThe New York Times discusses the diversity of revenue streams which support the Taliban in Afghanistan. In recent months, US forces have begun to express doubt over whether a policy to damage the opium trade will really hurt their finances.

Surprisingly, lessons can be learned from Peru’s experience fighting the drug trade and the ‘Shining Path’ guerilla movement in the early 1990s. In that case, the forces aligned against the government drew their power from an unlikely source.

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United Europe?

12 September, 2009

European FlagThe debate on the Lisbon Treaty has taken off, and the ‘No’ campaign is as dishonest as they were during the last referendum. But it’s easy to misunderstand the benefits of supporting this Treaty too.

Many commentators have claimed that the new ‘High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy’ will make Europe stronger and more influential globally. The effects will not be immediate.

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Sharing Amongst Enemies

30 August, 2009

Cherry PieIn his book Partitioning for Peace, Ivan Eland argues that division offers the best chance for peace in Iraq. He outlines lessons that can be learned from historical examples of partition.

However, he makes little of precisely how oil revenue is to be shared amongst the different peoples. Rather than divide the land and the oil by proxy, it would be much better to centrally process the oil and divide the revenue.

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The Lies Obama Tells Himself

30 August, 2009

Afghanistan FlagThe Economist takes stock of the current situation in Afghanistan. President Hamid Karzai continues to disgrace himself and damage his country, with widespread accusations of foul play in the recent presidential elections. It remains to be seen whether he is successfully re-elected.

In another article, President Barack Obama continues to claim that victory in this conflict (a concept devoid of meaning) is critical to keep America safe. This has been and always will be a lie.

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Towards a Nuclear Middle East

2 June, 2009

Within a matter of months, Iran could be in possession of nuclear weapons. The evidence for this was considered last week here. This is a state perfectly content to finance, train and arm with conventional weapons terrorist groups in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine. This is a state with political discourse dominated by nationalism.

These are the two major impacts from Iran’s decision: nuclear proliferation, and the possibility of terrorist organisations obtaining weapons of mass destruction. It is often easy to forget these consequences and simply focus on the prospect of the Ayatollah with his finger on the button, hoping that mutually assured destruction will save us.

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The Evidence Against Iran

24 May, 2009

Nuclear BlastDebate intensifies over Iran and their nuclear weapon program. President Obama has set a deadline for negotiation, but seems no closer to resolving the diplomatic gridlock that has perpetuated for so long.

The Iranian regime obstinately refuses to compromise their quest for nuclear energy, and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has the support of key political forces in this respect. He still denies that his state is seeking nuclear weapons. Should we believe him?

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