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What the escalating conflict between India and Pakistan means for America

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What the escalating conflict between India and Pakistan means for America

Update: It’s escalating faster.

Original Story:

When Americans think of the risk of nuclear war, they often think of North Korea or Iran in their pursuits of nuclear weapons that can strike the United States. Others might look to Russia or China, the two largest nuclear arsenals that are both capable of striking the United States today. We rarely consider the most volatile potential nuclear standoff in the world right now between India and Pakistan.

This is a mistake made by American media, as the tensions between India and Pakistan have been the most likely catalyst for a nuclear war since both nations acquired nuclear weapons capabilities. If World War III starts any time in the near future, it will likely start in south Asia between these nuclear neighbors.

Tensions have been high for decades and reached a critical tipping point two weeks ago following a terrorist attack in Kashmir. Since then, there have been exchanges between the two sides, including an air strikes on terrorist training camps by India’s air force and the downing of two Indian fighter jets yesterday.

The geopolitics surrounding this conflict are as complicated as they get. Both governments are considered friendly with Washington DC, though there have been diplomatic conflicts with Pakistan’s government in recent years.

China is not officially allied with Pakistan, but that’s just on paper. They have strong ties with Islamabad and consider their neighbors in India to be a major potential threat.

Russia, like the U.S., has relationships with both sides, but may lean towards Pakistan if push comes to shove.

Could a war start between India and Pakistan soon? If things don’t deescalate quickly, it seems almost inevitable. Both sides are leaving room for deescalation despite the increased military activity, but they have gone to war in the past with less provocation. There seem to be two possible ways for this to turn into a nuclear war.

Scenario 1: Pakistan counters Indian military incursions with tactical nuclear weapons

Pakistan is the only nuclear armed nation that does not have a policy against first nuclear strikes. All other nuclear armed nations (other than Israel, which denies having a nuclear arsenal) state as national policy that they will never use nuclear weapons unless nuclear weapons are used against them first.

Nobody knows what the threshold is for Pakistan to use their nuclear weapons. This is by design. Because India’s conventional military forces both outnumber and are better equipped than Pakistan’s, they’ve always used the threat of nuclear weapons as their countermeasure to India’s superiority. This is similar to NATO’s stance against Russia through the Cold War. Russia was militarily capable of running over Europe through sheer size, but the presence of nuclear weapons in Europe was always viewed as the balance.

Pakistan views their nuclear arsenal the same way. They may not be able to stop India head-to-head in a conventional war, but they would be willing to nuke Indian forces, possibly even within their own borders if necessary. If this current conflict continues to escalate and India gets more aggressive with their military strikes, Pakistan may feel it necessary to use tactical nuclear weapons to level the playing field.

Scenario 2: India fears a nuclear strike so they preemptively attack known launch facilities in a counterforce offensive

If diplomacy breaks down, either through escalation of military strikes and counterstrikes or through a terrorist attack similar to the 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai, it’s very possible pressure for action by the vast Indian population would result in an attempt by India to take out Pakistan’s nuclear capabilities before they’re able to use them. India has extremely accurate ordinance delivery systems that are capable of pinpoint strikes. They also have intelligence about all of Pakistan’s launch facilities… at least they hope they have information on all of them. Combine those two ingredients with a strong, albeit untested missile defense system and we may have a recipe for a counterforce offensive.

This scenario would make it much more likely China would get involved early. They may view the action against Pakistan as a precursor to action against Chinese nuclear facilities. If that’s their perspective, they may attempt to take out India’s nuclear capabilities shortly after India takes out Pakistan’s.

America would be drawn in

Two things are certain about America’s response to a nuclear war regardless of how it starts. First, there is very little chance anyone will want to get involved directly in a nuclear war in south Asia. Second, any action by either Russia or China would make it nearly impossible for us to stay out of it. Nearly 1/5th of the world’s population is in India and Pakistan. The economic fallout from any nuclear war in the region would be crippling to much of the developed world.

Public sentiment will initially demand that we stay as far away from the conflict as possible. If India is able to take out Pakistan’s nuclear capabilities without China getting involved, it’s possible we could stay out of the conflict and focus on building a lasting peace. But that may be wishful thinking. India is strong and technologically advanced, but it’s hard to imagine them completely incapacitating Pakistan. It’s even harder to imagine China not getting involved.

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The most unpredictable components are the terrorist organizations on both sides. Pakistan has multiple Islamic terrorist groups that want India out of Kashmir. India has Hindu terrorist groups that want a deeper separation from Muslims, a goal that becomes easier to achieve through a war with Pakistan. Meanwhile, the Islamic State and al Qaeda are still active in the region and would love to see these countries at war.

Any one terrorist organization could engage in an operation that prompts either or both sides of the conflict to get more aggressive.

If tensions are not brought down quickly, war seems inevitable. While American attentions are directed towards Michael Cohen’s testimony or Jussie Smollett’s latest claims, WWIII may be ramping up in south Asia. From there, it will spread. We need to be watching.

 


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Culture and Religion

Germany becomes first EU nation to rule BDS is anti-Semitic

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Germany becomes first EU nation to rule BDS is anti-Semitic

One EU nation down. 27 to go.

The German Bundestag ruled on Friday that the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement is anti-Semitic, calling on German Federal offices and bodies not to collaborate in any way with events that advocate to boycott or delegitimize the Jewish state.

The movement, which seeks to pressure Israel through international actions by governments, companies, and individuals, has often said they are not anti-Semitic, just against Israel’s policies. But their actions have been called out for being against the Jewish people and Israel’s legitimate right to exist.

Opinion

There are many who oppose Israel’s actions and policies. I’ve found myself at odds with some of the things they do, but I’ve never questioned their right to exist as a sovereign nation that must have the ability to defend itself. The BDS movement holds the opposite view. They claim to be against Israel’s policies but their actions betray their true feelings. They don’t want Israel to change. They want it to no longer exist, replaced by a Muslim-majority nation of Palestine.

It’s a brave move on the part of Germany to go against this powerful organization. Few are willing to stand up for the truth, fearing retribution from the millions of BDS supporters or over a billion Muslims. With only 14 million Jews in the world and a little less than half of them in the nation of Israel, it’s difficult to reconcile any scenario in which the BDS movement stands on firm ground.

But that hasn’t stopped them from being successful at pressuring many from engaging at all with the Middle Eastern nation. It’s time for their antics to stop.

Quote

“It’s an important decision to recognize BDS as an anti-Semitic movement and that it is forbidden to support it.” – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Final Thoughts

There are few groups in the world that embrace hate and yet receive recognition by most nations. The BDS movement is one of them. This is a great first step towards exposing the true nature of the group as anti-Semitic.

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Foreign Affairs

Iranian Quds force leader Qassem Suleimani called on proxies to prepare for war

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Iranian Quds force leader Qassem Suleimani called on proxies to prepare for war

The United States started ramping up our military presence in the Persian Gulf and across the Middle East around the end of last month. Now, we may know one of the factors that led to this decision: A call by a top Iranian official for the various militia groups under their control to “prepare for proxy war” against the United States and our allies.

According to The Guardian:

Leaders of all the militia groups that fall under the umbrella of Iraq’s Popular Mobilisation Units (PMUs) were in attendance at the meeting called by Suleimani, the intelligence sources claimed. One senior figure who learned about the meeting had since met with western officials to express concerns.

Opinions

All of this information is almost certainly leaked as part of an effort to convince our European allies to believe the treat assessment Secretary of State Mike Pompeo laid out before them earlier this week. It was received with skepticism initially, though the British have adopted our cautious tone today after initially balking.

As we’ve been noting from the beginning, the intelligence very likely came from Iranian defector Ali Nasiri, who left his high-level post in Iranian intelligence last month to defect to the United States with a cache of military plans. This theory jibe with every action we’ve seen so far, including the leaked intelligence that should make EU nations rethink their position of skepticism.

As long as the United Nations in general and the EU in particular continues to turn a blind eye to Iran’s proxy aggressions, they will work to undermine peace in the Middle East and around the world. There’s skin in the game for European nations; they don’t want to be proven wrong about their trust in Iran’s desire for peace and they definitely don’t want the Trump administration to be right, but they must set aside their bias and see the truth. World War III is just around the corner if they don’t stand up for the truth instead of their political agenda.

Quote

“We share the same assessment of the heightened threat posed by Iran. As always we work closely with the USA.” – British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt

Final Thoughts

Iran loves to be aggressive but hates getting their hands dirty. That’s why the employ militias. It’s why the sponsor terrorism. They avoid accountability by keeping their distance from direct conflict. This time, their involvement is clear.

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Foreign Affairs

John Bolton and rumors of war: Is it all a calculated bluff?

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John Bolton and rumors of war Why there will be no war with Iran

Sometimes the only way to prevent a war is to step right up to the brink of it with weapons pointed in the right direction. It happened with the Cuban Missile Crisis. Some would argue it happened when Alexander Haig lied to the world about being “in control” of the White House following an assassination attempt on President Reagan. It’s a perpetual state of existence for Israel. And today, we may be seeing the United States backing down Iran after receiving intelligence that they intended to attack.

I’ve speculated about the seemingly conspicuous chain of events that have put a nation-pounding level of a U.S. military presence in the Persian Gulf and throughout the Centcom AOR. The defection of Brigadier General Ali Nasiri from Iran’s intelligence branch brought a treasure trove of military intelligence our way, prompting me to believe Israel was considering taking out Iran’s nuclear program while the U.S. military acted as cover against the inevitable counterstrike.

That may still be the case, but it’s also possible they believe their window of opportunity has closed since Iran has certainly beefed up defenses around their facilities and moved what they could to new locations following Nasiri’s defection. Then again, perhaps that was never on the table and we can take at face value that the intelligence told us Iran was planning attacks through their proxies.

But other pieces of information, such as rumors that the U.S. was considering sending over 100,000 troops to the region and the attacks allegedly prompted by Iran against Saudi pipelines and oil tankers, makes it seem likely the United States knows Iran’s plans and are sending a clear message: “Don’t even think about it.”

This is where National Security Adviser John Bolton comes in handy. It’s why his name has been plastered all over news reports across the globe. It’s why he was the one who sent out the initial release about sending the Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group to the Persian Gulf in the first place. He’s been calling for the United States to attack Iran for the better part of two decades. If you’re going to carry a big stick against Iran, Bolton’s the guy you want holding it if you want the message delivered.

Some historians have speculated Secretary of State Alexander Haig intentionally misled the world about his “control” of the White House to send a clear message to the Soviet Union. It’s known that after Reagan was shot, Soviet military leadership met to consider a preemptive strike. In the confusion of the U.S. Commander in Chief being shot, it may have been possible for the Soviets to take down their enemy once and for all without mutually assured destruction, at least that’s what they considered as a possibility.

Haig was a retired four-star general and former NATO Supreme Commander where he built a reputation of being a hawk against the Warsaw Pact nations. If there was anyone America needed to go on worldwide television and declare he was in charge, it was Haig. The Soviets wouldn’t doubt his resolve if he had temporary control over American nuclear capabilities.

All of this is rumor and speculation. If it’s true, that’s the sort of information that would never be revealed. If it’s not true, then it was a blessing nonetheless.

Bolton could be the modern day version of Haig. If Iran (and apparently the rest of the world) believes President Trump is taking Bolton’s advice, they would have reason for concern. There is no doubt any attacks, even by their proxies, would lead to a massive counterstrike by the United States directly against Iran’s military. With the firepower that’s currently deployed to Iran, we could cripple their military in a matter of weeks without sending in a single ground troop. Bombers, five ships loaded with cruise missiles, and an aircraft carrier could devastate a nation the size of Iran.

By no means should we not be worried. As with everything surrounding Iranian-American tensions these days, all we have access to is speculation and saber rattling. War may very well be on the near horizon. We cannot let our guard down for an instance.

John Bolton may just be the perfect guy to scare Iran into backing down on whatever plans we learned of from their defector. I pray this is the case. If either nation is really planning on waging war, God help us all.

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