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Thursday, 4 December 2008
Pakistan and the lessons of Sarajevo, 1914
Topic: Wargaming For Leaders

How many crises can one government handle? Pakistan has effectively lost control of half of its territory, and whether guilty of the Mumbai massacre or not its citizens stand accused of the atrocity. Add to the mix a wobbly government and perceptions that it is not in control of its security service and one can easily imagine it will take just one more push before the house of Jinnah collapses.


What are the possibilities? Some spectacular Taliban victory in the territories or the military losses faith in the  Zardari government if it loses face with the Indians over Mumbai. Clearly it is in Americas interest to bring calm to these troubled waters, but the Indian government is about to enter an election cycle. As we just saw in our recent election, tempers and frustration can spill over very quickly. The Indian government has been damaged by the Mumbai massacre and will need to act and talk tough. Pakistan is being contrite, but as I read about the Indian governments demand for the arrest of 19 wanted men I was reminded of Sarajevo.


During the summer of 1914 the Archduke of Austria-Hungary was assassinated by Serbian terrorist supported by the security service of Serbia. The subsequent investigation and Austrian ultimatum demanded that Serbia hand over the guilty and permit intrusive oversight of the investigation or face war. Without rehashing all of the details the result was World War I.


How the Pakistan government handles the Indian demand within the context of history and the current unstable situation has all the factors present that I have seen in wargames where discontinuity lurks around the corner. Both countries are nuclear armed, under pressure, and it will not take much for things to reach a tipping point.  Hopefully saner minds will prevail.

Posted by markherman at 7:24 PM EST
Updated: Thursday, 4 December 2008 7:32 PM EST
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