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2008-06-10

"Descent Into Chaos": Ahmed Rashid on How the US Aid to "War on Terror" Ally Pakistan is Aiding the Taliban

Guests

Ahmed Rashid, Pakistani journalist based in Lahore. He writes for a number of US and international newspapers. He is author of several books. His latest is Descent into Chaos: The United States and the Failure of Nation Building in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Central Asia.

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Veteran Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid explains how the US ally Pakistan has armed and financed the Taliban after the US invasion of Afghanistan; how the CIA pays Pakistan to arrest al-Qaeda operatives, but Pakistan uses the money to fund the Taliban resurgence in northwest Pakistan; and how the US and NATO’s failure to deal with Afghan civil society has led directly to the huge rise of the opium trade that funds the Taliban. [includes rush transcript]

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: A thousand Pakistani lawyers have begun a long march across the country to demand the restoration of judges fired by President Musharraf last year. Amidst mounting pressure to step down, the President told a group of journalists on Saturday he has no immediate plans to resign.

    PRESIDENT PERVEZ MUSHARRAF: [translated] I’m not tendering my recognition now. I have told you about the future. I will keep watching. I can’t become a useless vegetable. I’m not interfering in the affairs of the government. I want to say that emphatically.

AMY GOODMAN: Meanwhile, the future of a recent peace agreement between the Pakistani government and local Taliban forces along the Afghan border remains unclear. But a new report from the conservative think tank, the RAND Corporation, blames Pakistani support for the continued success of the Taliban-led insurgency in Afghanistan. The report says, "If Taliban sanctuary bases in Pakistan are not eliminated, the United States and its NATO allies will face crippling long-term consequences in their effort to stabilize and rebuild Afghanistan."

Well, our guest today is veteran Pakistani journalist, bestselling author, Ahmed Rashid. His latest book, just out, is called Descent into Chaos: The United States and the Failure of Nation Building in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Central Asia. He explains how the US’s ally Pakistan has armed and financed the Taliban after the US invasion of Afghanistan; how the CIA pays Pakistan to arrest al-Qaeda operatives, but Pakistan uses the money to fund the Taliban resurgence in northwest Pakistan. And he traces how the US and NATO’s failure to deal with Afghan civil society has led directly to the huge rise of the opium trade that funds the Taliban. Ahmed Rashid joins us now from Philadelphia.

We welcome you to Democracy Now!

AHMED RASHID: Thank you very much.

AMY GOODMAN: It’s very good to have you with us. Let’s start out with these very serious allegations that you make. First, start off by talking about where US money goes when it’s supposedly going to Pakistan or its secret service.

AHMED RASHID: Well, the US has given something like $11 billion since 9/11 to Pakistan. About 80 percent of that has gone directly to the military. And with that money, Pakistan has bought over $7 billion to $8 billion worth of arms. Most of those arms have been bought for the Indian border. They’re heavy item numbers like jet fighters and artillery and stuff like that, not items that you need to fight a counterinsurgency that we are facing right now on our western borders. And so, a lot of this money has been wasted. There’s been growing resentment in Pakistan about this.

President Bush has been favoring Musharraf and really giving him a free ticket to take US money and do what he wants to do with it. At the same time, money has been channeled to Taliban and neo-Taliban groups in Pakistan who have been — who regrouped inside Afghanistan after their routing from Afghanistan in 2001 and have since 2003 been launching their offensive against US forces in Afghanistan.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, let’s take this piece by piece. Start off with India. What are you saying? That the Pakistani government is taking the money from the United States, shoring up its military, not against the Taliban, but against India?

AHMED RASHID: Well, Pakistan’s main enemy for the last forty, fifty years, has been India, and the army has fought three wars against India. And India — and even though there was a kind of peace agreement in 2004, there’s been very little progress on the main issue that bedevils the two countries, that is, the Kashmir issue.

But Pakistan has been using the Indian bogey to say that the Indians are now in Kabul, the Indians have enormous influence over the Afghan government, and the Indians are using now Afghan territory with which to undermine Pakistan’s sovereignty. Now, most observers think that that is very exaggerated. But nevertheless, Pakistan is using the Indian bogey to justify maintaining most of its army on the Indian border, buying arms, which are aimed against India.

And the problem is that then the counterinsurgency effort in western Afghanistan, which the Americans have been pleading with President Musharraf for so many years — “Send more troops in. Get them retrained. We’ll help you with more money, more weapons to rearm and retrain Pakistani troops on the border, so they can fight a counterinsurgency war” — this has been rejected by the Pakistanis.

AMY GOODMAN: The evidence you have of Pakistan building up its border with India, yet another Indian ally, and the response of the United States? How knowledgeable is the US of this?

AHMED RASHID: Well, the US is very — I was in Kabul last week, and certainly I met with senior US military and civilian officers, and they described this very clearly, as to what was going on, and they were incredibly frustrated. This comes after three visits by the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Fallon to Islamabad to meet with the army chief to persuade the Pakistan army not to do this, not to shift its forces to the Indian border, and to be prepared to train for a counterinsurgency war. Pakistan has rejected this. Pakistan is moving its troops out of the border regions. It is conducting peace deals with these militants, which are extremely controversial and are only leading to greater Talibanization of the region. And the US is very worried but seems to have no leverage over the Pakistanis. And this despite so many years of money and support.

AMY GOODMAN: So the US is pouring billions into Pakistan, also India, two nuclear-armed countries.

AHMED RASHID: Well, the Americans are not helping India so much, because India is now a wealthy country. It’s on the move. Its economy is on the move. Whatever the American — the Indian industry is able to buy whatever they need.

But still, Pakistan is very much a basket case. It still needs a lot of money. Its economy is in a very bad way. And the problem is that, you know, with this military regime we’ve had for the last nine years, there’s really been very little serious investment in infrastructure, in new industry, new exports which would gain foreign exchange for the country, reducing poverty levels, providing more education which is desperately needed in order to counter this Islamic school madrasah culture that has taken root now in Pakistan. None of these issues are being met by US aid. Most of the US aid, unfortunately, is going to the military.

AMY GOODMAN: You say that Iraq is a sideshow in the fight against the Islamic extremist insurgency, that it’s happening in Pakistan and that Pakistan is providing the Taliban with sanctuary, with arms, with money.

AHMED RASHID: Yes, I say Iraq is a sideshow, because what I mean by — there’s two things. First of all, when Iraq is finally settled — and hopefully it will be when you have a new president here — essentially, Iraq is going to be settled by the neighboring Arab countries, which — and as well as Iran, and coming together, agreeing not to interfere in Iraq. Iraq remains an Arab Middle East problem. It is not threatening global security, despite all the hype of the Bush administration that Iraq has nuclear weapons, that Iraq is hosting al-Qaeda. Yes, al-Qaeda is in Iraq, but al-Qaeda in Iraq has never had the power or strength to launch terrorist attacks against the United States or Europe or anywhere else. But the al-Qaeda from Afghanistan and Pakistan is still launching terrorist attacks. Every attack since 2004 in Europe or Africa, which has either been carried out or been thwarted, has emanated from this region, from the Afghanistan-Pakistan region.

And now you have huge efforts by al-Qaeda to train European Muslims, to train white European converts to Islam. They’ve set up training camps now with language facilities. That means if you’re a German Muslim, you don’t speak Arabic, you don’t speak any of the local languages, and you arrive at one of these camps, you’ll get a German trainer, you’ll get a French trainer, in order to train you how to do — how to build explosives, how to carry out suicide bombings. Now, that means that al-Qaeda has really developed a much greater capacity since 9/11, when a lot of it was destroyed. It has rebuilt itself.

AMY GOODMAN: Ahmed Rashid, you also say that the Pakistan state security agency has been taking CIA money and using it, not to arrest al-Qaeda operatives, but to shore up the regrouping of the Taliban in northwest Pakistan on the frontier, on the border with Afghanistan?

AHMED RASHID: Well, the US has provided huge sums. I mean, we don’t even know how much it is, but it runs into billions of dollars of the latest monitoring equipment for bugging telephones, for surveillance cameras, all this kind of stuff, to the Inter-Services Intelligence, Pakistan’s military intelligence agencies. Now, firstly, and this was all obviously to catch al-Qaeda, to watch airports, etc. Now, some of this equipment is used for that, but the bulk of the equipment is used for two things. It’s being used to monitor Musharraf’s political opponents. Journalists — I mean, my phones are bugged all the time —- and journalists and politicians and anyone who might be writing or talking against the military regime are being harassed. Their phones are being bugged. We’ve got now rendered prisoners, just like you have, prisoners which the intelligence agencies pick up and then are made to disappear. Their families can’t find out for years where they are. So -—

AMY GOODMAN: How do you know your phone is bugged, Ahmed?

AHMED RASHID: Oh, I’ve been told that, you know, by friends in the police and in the intelligence agencies, to be very careful, that all my phones are bugged. Email servers in Pakistan are now bugged. Your email is totally bugged. I mean, there’s one — you send — if I send you an email, one email, a copy of that automatically goes to the intelligence agencies. Now, you don’t — now, this equipment was not available to the Pakistanis. And is it being used to track al-Qaeda? Well, partly probably it is. But it’s also being used to track political opponents of Musharraf.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about the continued relationship with Musharraf? You have these lawyers, a thousand, marching across Pakistan. And now you have, well, once again, Assistant Secretary of State — or the Deputy Secretary of State Negroponte leading a high-level US delegation scheduled to meet with Musharraf as well as the Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani and the Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi. Negroponte was key to getting Benazir Bhutto back into Pakistan. Talk about what Negroponte is doing there. He had gone there with Richard Boucher, the Assistant Secretary of State.

AHMED RASHID: America’s main aim is to keep Musharraf there. They don’t want to see Musharraf go, even though he’s become hugely unpopular after the February elections, in which his party lost all the seats and all the opposition parties did far better. He’s become hugely discredited because of the second martial law that he imposed last year for three months, which created this judges crisis, because he deposed all the senior judges of the Supreme Court, including the Chief Justice. He suspended the Constitution. He imposed media censorship. And everybody, from the judges to the lawyers to the media to civil society, everybody — and the political parties, of course — everybody has been up in arms and demanding that Musharraf resign.

Now, Musharraf has support as president from two sources. The first is President George Bush, who just a few days ago again endorsed Musharraf. And the second source has been the army. Now, I think the army is highly demoralized, is very worried by the political situation. If the Americans would let Musharraf go, I think the army would probably accept that and not create a crisis.

However, Bush and Negroponte have put all their money on Musharraf, even though this move is really antagonizing the Pakistani public and of course antagonizing this newly elected government. After a decade, you have a newly elected government, which is secular, which is left of center, which is prepared to work against terrorism, is prepared to fulfill the US agenda, but yet we have an administration that is still supporting a military dictator.

And then the Americans ask you, “Well, you know, why are Pakistanis anti-American?” Well, what do you expect them to be? I mean, it’s complete — nobody can understand this, why Negroponte is going up every few weeks. He’s been in Pakistan literally about three or four times this year. His main aim has been to shore up Musharraf and to tell the civilian government, “Don’t impeach him. Don’t sack him. Don’t do anything to harm him.” And the Pakistanis can’t understand this. Don’t the Americans have any other agenda with the elected government, to strengthen the elected government and make it more functionable?

AMY GOODMAN: John Negroponte, the Deputy Secretary of State, formerly in the early ’80s the US ambassador to Honduras, helped to lead the covert war against the Nicaraguan government, supporting the Contras. John Negroponte of Total Information Awareness, that was shot down when people heard about it, though probably, you know, still exists under another name. That John Negroponte, Ahmed Rashid?

AHMED RASHID: The same one. The same one. But he’s only the messenger. I mean, the policy is being conducted elsewhere. I mean, clearly, the White House and the house of — the Office of the Vice President Dick Cheney, they are solidly behind Musharraf, and it’s only fueling this political crisis.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking to Ahmed Rashid. His book is called Descent into Chaos: The United States and the Failure of Nation Building in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Central Asia. We’ll come back to this conversation in a minute.

[break]

AMY GOODMAN: Ahmed Rashid is our guest. His book is Descent into Chaos: The United States and the Failure of Nation Building in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Central Asia. Usually he’s in Pakistan, but he is here in the United States in Philadelphia today. We’re talking about what’s happening to the Taliban, the US relationship with Pakistan and Afghanistan. Ahmed Rashid, let’s talk opium. Let’s talk about the huge opium trade that is fueling the Taliban and the relationship of the United States to that.

AHMED RASHID: Well, the problem has been that — you know, the main thesis of my book is that the US failed to carry out effective reconstruction of Afghanistan after 2001. And having done — having been — and Iraq, of course, was the main reason for that. US money and resources were all moved to Iraq. Afghanistan was put on standby, as it were, literally. Nothing was done for over three to four years. And in that time, because there was no investment in agriculture, some two-and-a-half million refugees came back to Afghanistan from neighboring countries, poverty was endemic, farmers went back to growing the crop which didn’t need investment — it didn’t need water, it didn’t need fertilizer — and that was the poppy crop. If there had been investment in agriculture, even minimal investment in agriculture, I think we could have avoided this crisis.

Anyway, by 2001, the poppy crop was booming. Today, Afghanistan is supplying 93 percent of the world’s heroin. And prices have remained remarkably stable, because Afghanistan — the mafia there has a cartel, which is able to control prices so that the market is not a flooded even though every year the crop increases.

Now, on the other side of the game, you’ve got — you have the American forces, NATO forces, and frankly, in seven years, the US has not been able to put together a counter-narcotics strategy. The same goes for the British, which has been the country which has been leading this effort, and NATO. Consequently, this drug trafficking has increasingly come in — the profits of this has come into the hands of the Taliban and al-Qaeda. They are flush with cash right now. Al-Qaeda and — well, the Taliban fighters in Afghanistan are being paid $100 to $150 a month, which is about twice what the Afghan soldier gets who is fighting for the government. I’ve known families in the tribal areas of Pakistan whose sons have committed suicides, launched suicide bombs. They are getting large sums of money as compensation — the families are —- for their dead son. So you have now all these groups flush with cash. They’re involved at all levels, protecting the farmers, taking taxes from the farmers. But more importantly, they’re involved in trafficking now. And they’re trafficking to -—

AMY GOODMAN: Weren’t three British soldiers just killed this weekend? Weren’t three British soldiers just killed this weekend by a suicide bomber, bringing their total, I think, of deaths in Afghanistan to 100?

AHMED RASHID: Right, exactly. I mean, Helmand is the province where 50 percent of the drugs is produced. There are 6,000 British troops are there. There are 3,000 American Marines there. But they don’t bring much of a difference, because there is no drugs policy. I was arguing back in 2002 that what the US forces should be doing — OK, they don’t want to do eradication, because they don’t want to upset the farmers, and that is too sensitive an issue, but they should at least be doing interdiction, that is, stopping the convoys of these traffickers.

I was at one firebase, a story I recount, with Special Forces in Helmand, and one morning, you know, the officer says that one morning he sees twelve trucks laden with heroin passing by his base. He’s not allowed to do anything. He’s not allowed to stop that convoy. He hasn’t got orders to do so. Now, the Afghans did not have the capacity, they didn’t have the troops, the helicopters, the wherewithal, to stop this kind of interdiction. The US forces did, but they were ordered not to do it. So, again, we lack a strategy with which to deal with this issue.

AMY GOODMAN: And where the opium goes?

AHMED RASHID: Sorry, I missed that.

AMY GOODMAN: Where does the opium go from Afghanistan?

AHMED RASHID: Well, most of it, about 60 percent of it, is going to Europe. There are many routes now that have been opened up. There’s a route through northern Afghanistan, Central Asia and Russia, and then entering eastern Europe. There’s a route from Pakistan to Dubai and the Gulf states, from where it’s shipped to Europe. There’s a route through Iran, and there’s a route through India, Pakistan, India. So there are many multiple routes now, and it’s becoming more and more difficult for international agencies to shut down these routes.

AMY GOODMAN: Ahmed Rashid, you talk about how Mike McConnell, the director of National Intelligence, and Michael Hayden, the director of the CIA, visited Pakistan in January, discussing creating a secret CIA base along the border with Pakistan. What has come of this?

AHMED RASHID: Well, as far as we know, the Pakistanis have not given permission for that. The Pakistanis have given permission for training some of its paramilitary forces, which is being done by a small group of special — US Special Forces. The Americans have asked for a CIA base to be established in the Pakistani tribal areas, so that they — the CIA could directly monitor what is going on there and where this leadership is, the Taliban and al-Qaeda leadership. As far as I know — I may be wrong here. I mean, this is all classified information. As far as I’m aware, the Pakistanis have not given permission for that. So, a lot of the monitoring of these tribal areas where these Taliban and al-Qaeda leaders are, is being done by drones, by satellite, and the US has been using drones to fire missiles at meeting points where they suspect al-Qaeda has been gathering.

AMY GOODMAN: What would be the difference between a Republican and a Democratic administration in Washington, with the big election happening in November?

AHMED RASHID: Well, you know, I mean, someone like myself obviously has been watching this very closely. I have been very encouraged by Barack Obama’s comments that he would put more resources into Afghanistan, he’d put more troops in, more money, he’d take reconstruction much more seriously than the Bush administration has taken. But again, I mean, I would like to see in the next few weeks and months how Obama puts flesh on that policy and really builds up that policy, what he would do with Pakistan, what he would do with Afghanistan. This is all terribly important.

McCain, on the other hand, has said absolutely nothing about Afghanistan, and clearly he can’t, because if he criticizes Afghanistan, he’s criticizing the performance of his own Republican Party. And even though — if you saw this visit just recently — Laura Bush went to Afghanistan a couple of days ago painting a very rosy picture of development and women going to school and all the rest of it, the fact is that one-third of the country is in the grip of an insurgency. So, clearly the Bush administration will be trying to paint Afghanistan as a major success story. We’ve had Condi Rice writing in Foreign Affairs this week about how US policy towards Pakistan is a major success story for the Bush administration. So if McCain is going to be following that line, that Pakistan and Afghanistan are big success stories, frankly, I don’t see anyone buying it. The American people will find it difficult to swallow, when you’ve got reports out today like the RAND Corporation report, which is saying just the opposite.

AMY GOODMAN: Wasn’t it Barack Obama who in 2007 said that if there were intelligence of al-Qaeda in Pakistan and Musharraf wasn’t taking action, then he would consider unilaterally attacking it, bombing it?

AHMED RASHID: Well, certainly, I think that comment — he went — he rephrased that comment later on, but it did create a lot of fuss in Pakistan. But the fact of the matter is that the Bush administration has been doing this anyway. The Bush administration have launched three or four missile attacks inside Pakistan against al-Qaeda safe houses, killing we don’t know how many members of al-Qaeda and the Taliban, also killing civilians along with those strikes. And these strikes have taken place without permission of the Pakistanis. So, actually, what Obama was talking about was something that the Bush administration has been doing over the last few months.

AMY GOODMAN: Ahmed Rashid is the author of Descent into Chaos. The book is just out. Talk about the relationship between Pakistani intelligence, the Taliban and US intelligence.

AHMED RASHID: Well, you know, this really goes back to 2001 after the war ended. Within three months of the war in Afghanistan ending, the US had started pulling out its best resources for retraining for the Iraq invasion. Now — and the message to Musharraf was that, “Look, you go after al-Qaeda, get as many Arabs as you can. We will reward you if you do that. We’re not bothered about the Taliban. You can do what you like with the Taliban.” And that policy was essentially what the policy was for over five years.

Now, what that meant was that the Pakistani intelligence services, who had been backing the Taliban for throughout the 1990s — they had been supporting the Taliban regime — they were then forced to switch sides after 9/11. They helped the US overthrow the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. But then they immediately, once the Taliban started streaming into Pakistan, retreating into Pakistan, they again started housing and looking after the Taliban. So, on the one — we’ve had this dual policy all along. On the one hand, according to US instructions, we’ve gone after al-Qaeda and received large sums of money for that. On the other hand, the US had no policy to the Taliban, and we’ve taken advantage of that, and we’ve been helping the Taliban. Only in the last, I would say, twelve months or so has the US actually woken up to this fact that the Taliban is posing the greatest of threats to American and Afghan forces.

Now, this is something that President Karzai was coming here, he was repeating to President Bush, saying, “Look, I’m not threatened by al-Qaeda. Al-Qaeda can’t overthrow my regime. It doesn’t have the numbers. The real threat is the Taliban, and they are being given state sponsorship, you know, by Pakistan. Do something about Pakistan.” And Bush kept promising and promising, and nothing was done.

This was repeated in 2005, when NATO went into Afghanistan for the first time. Several European countries sent troops into Afghanistan, and NATO told the Americans, “Look, do something about Pakistan, because our troops are going in there. It’s a very sensitive issue for our governments. You know, many parties in our parliament don’t like this. Make sure that there’s no infiltration from Pakistan, so that our troops remain safe.” And they met with Condi Rice, and Condi Rice told them, “Don’t worry, we’ll handle Pakistan.” And they didn’t. The Bush administration didn’t handle Pakistan. And so, consequently, what we’ve had is that NATO has been extremely angry and upset, because they consider that the Bush administration has essentially lied to them, gave them false hopes, lied to them that they would prevent this infiltration from Pakistan, and it has never been stopped.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about the trend of Pakistani soldiers refusing to fight the Taliban, fellow Muslims?

AHMED RASHID: Well, after a great deal of pressure, the Americans forced the Pakistani military to go — to move into the tribal areas in 2004. So if you think about that, since 2001, that means al-Qaeda and the Taliban had more than three years of being able to reorganize themselves without any — without being harassed in any way.

Eventually, the troops did go in, and the Taliban fought back, and the Pakistani Taliban, the Afghan Taliban fought back and gave the Pakistan army a bloody nose, prompting large-scale desertions from these paramilitary forces who were made up of Pashtun tribesmen. The Pashtun is the main ethnic group in Afghanistan and on the other side of the border in Pakistan. The tribes are divided by an artificial border created by the British. And the Pashtuns are the main recruiting base for the Taliban, and they’re also the main recruiting base for these paramilitary forces. So you had cousin fighting cousin, cousin on the Taliban side, another cousin on the Pakistan army side. And so, what happened was an enormous demoralization within these Pakistani paramilitary forces, desertions. They took heavy casualties. Up to a thousand Pakistanis have been killed in these offensives that they’ve launched in the tribal areas.

And their failure to deal with this, largely because of their refusal to retrain and rearm as a counterinsurgency force, because they go in as this army used to fighting on the plains of Punjab against Indian tanks rather than, you know, re-equipping and retraining as counterinsurgency forces, these heavy casualties they’ve taken have led to then these very dubious kinds of peace deals, which are essentially a surrender document by the Pakistan army to say, “Well, as long as you Taliban don’t attack us, the Pakistan army, we’ll let you stay where you are.”

AMY GOODMAN: Ahmed Rashid, what has to be done?

AHMED RASHID: Well, I think nothing can be done by this administration. Unfortunately, I don’t think — this administration has staked all its money on the wrong people. I think we have to wait for a new administration. We have to wait for a new policy and strategy.

The first thing I would recommend very much for the new president is that you have to look at this region as a whole. You cannot resolve the crisis in Afghanistan without ending the sanctuaries in Pakistan. You cannot persuade the Pakistan army to end those sanctuaries, unless you persuade the Indians to do something about Kashmir. You have to talk to the Iranians. You have to do something about the growing crisis in Central Asia. So this whole region is — has got these interlocking — it’s like a very complex jigsaw puzzle. You’ve got to put all the pieces together.

And then you have to have country-specific problems. You’ve got to deal with reconstruction in Afghanistan. You’ve got to deal with this extremism and Talibanization and madrasah culture in Pakistan.

I think there’s enormous hope. You have elections next year in Afghanistan. You’ll get — you may get a new president, somebody who defeats President Karzai. You have had elections in Pakistan. You have a very serious, secular — a good coalition government which needs space with which to build this — with which to do good things for the country and to counter terrorism. At the moment, it is not able to, because it’s bogged down in this fight with Musharraf. So you need a president who can take advantage of these positive things that are happening in the region.

AMY GOODMAN: And the militarism, the militaristic approach to Iran by the United States? Last thirty seconds.

AHMED RASHID: Well, I mean, clearly, I think that is really creating enormous mayhem in the region. I mean, how is Afghanistan and Pakistan going to react? I mean, there will be — you know, if the US does go into Iran in any shape or form, there’s going to be a huge reaction in Pakistan and Afghanistan. And you have a leadership there which is essentially pro-American. It’s going to be very difficult for these leaders to defend an American attack on Iran. It’s going to be impossible, in fact. And it’s going to create political and diplomatic mayhem in the Muslim world, not to speak of the retaliation that clearly the Iranians are planning all over the Muslim world.

AMY GOODMAN: Ahmed Rashid, I want to thank you very much for being with us, Pakistani journalist, bestselling author. His latest book is called Descent into Chaos: The United States and the Failure of Nation Building in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Central Asia.

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