Thursday, September 13, 2007

Burning the Ships? Iran and the United States

by Nathan Gonzales from Foreign Policy In Focus

The example of A. Q. Khan points to the suspected inability of certain countries to keep control over their nuclear capabilities. Pakistan is dramatically different from Iran, especially in the area of national unity. For one, Pakistan does not enjoy the natural, long-standing borders that Iran does. And while Pakistan was partitioned from India for religious reasons, Iran as a nation existed well before the advent of Islam. Today, Pakistan enjoys significant collusion with a variety of external actors, not the least of which are Sunni Wahhabi fundamentalists, who have opened madrasas (or religious seminaries) and continue to spread their Saudi brand of Islam in the country. The Taliban continue to mount operations in Afghanistan, using Pakistan as their headquarters. A. Q. Khan himself has been associated with Taliban sympathizers ... Saudi Arabia is a friend so long as the Saudi monarchy is in place, and there is no guarantee that this reality will last forever. Should Wahhabis become stronger, Saudi Arabia could conceivably become an enemy of the United States. The real question is whether America should gamble on a friend ruling over a population of enemies, as is the case with the Saudis, or an enemy ruling over a population of friends, as we find in Iran.

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