|Catalytic War (Excerpt)
“Catalytic “war (where a third country tries to touch off a war between the major powers)
Herman Kahn, Thinking About the Unthinkable
A consistent truth of the nuclear realm is that evolution runs counter to public safety in regards to nuclear proliferation. Such is the problem with a “nuclear society” that includes rogue and terror sponsoring nations amongst its members. The concept of a catalytic war ensuing due to the irresponsible inclinations of one or more peripheral nations is not new; however, one could argue that there has never been a time that has been more conducive to this concept than the current era. The global war on terror (GWOT) has unwittingly fragmented and reconfigured the long standing and seemingly “fixed” state of region specific and global alliances. Conventional nuclear powers have decided to align themselves with nations in the Middle East that have proven to be irresponsible concerning their commitment to international peace and prosperity. These alliances have been based on the logic that these rogue and terror sponsoring nations will have facilitative powers concerning war due to the fact that many of these nations inevitably will become the newest members of the nuclear society. Pakistan has become the first Islamic fundamentalist nation to acquire and competently develop a formidable nuclear arsenal, therefore setting the stage for Iran to reciprocate this feat in a manner which could destabilize the Middle East for decades to come.
The global war on terror has been executed masterfully on many levels, however, there were some missteps that have caused major problems that will take years to remedy:
Straw Coalitions/Fragmented Alliances
Building coalitions that do not require each participant to supply personnel in addition to money and materials was a recipe for destruction concerning the war plan for Iraq, as some coalition members were shielded from the harsh realities of war. This is a major reason that the war is so unpopular, as the citizens of many nations don’t have any idea what type of war is being waged and why, therefore, they simply take a look at the casualty lists before deciding that war is wrong. This has led to fragmented alliances that have evolved into the type of conventional/rogue/terror sponsoring nation alliances we see today.
Nation Building as a Primary Strategy
Using Iraq and Afghanistan as models, we have two examples where nation building got in the way of our primary mission which was to disarm the bad guys and find any and all weapons of mass destruction. New governments were set up in Iraq and Afghanistan while various militias were still armed and at large free to impose their will against civilians. In Iraq, the Al Sadr militia has taken advantage of the fact that they were never disarmed by immersing itself into all fabrics of Iraqi society including the government. Today, the Al Sadr militia threatens to destabilize Iraq as a sovereign nation. In Afghanistan, the Taliban have taken advantage of the lack of a hard pursuit strategy by reconstituting themselves into a force far deadlier than before. In fact, the failure to implement a hard pursuit strategy in both theatres was due to those who favored nation building over decisive force.
Pakistan’s Ascension to Nuclear Power Broker
The paradigm shift instituted by Pakistan cannot be easily discounted for what it has achieved. No one expected a fundamentalist nation to break through in this manner so quickly. Pakistan’s success in acquiring a nuclear weapon’s capability basically assures us that there will be a litany of Islamic Fundamentalist nations hoping to do the same in very short order. Iran stands poised to become the second fundamentalist nation to acquire nuclear weapons. While it appears that Sunni dominated Pakistan and Shiite led Iran are diametrically opposed to one another, the GWOT may very well make them both bedfellows in as much that both are terror sponsoring nations who owe a lot to terrorist organizations like Hezbollah and Al Qaeda. On another note, for those who have been taken in by Pakistan’s fragile alliance with America it is imperative that one understand that this alliance only works so long as Pakistan seemingly dominates the Middle East with its forty eight nuclear warheads. However, Iran is a stronger terrorist threat than Pakistan and once Iran acquires its own nuclear weapons capabilities it will be able to use its Russian and Chinese allies to neutralize the strategic and numerical advantage held by Pakistan with regard to its nuclear warheads. Therefore, Pakistan will no longer be able or willing to distance itself from an Al Qaeda organization that draws tens of thousands of Pakistanis in public protests of Pakistan’s alliance with Washington. Pakistan should be expected to break off this alliance as Iran gets closer to acquiring a nuclear weapon of its own.