Cole in Salon: The Challenge of Pakistan for Obama

My column is out at Salon.com: “Does Obama understand his biggest foreign-policy challenge? The president-elect wants to work with the Pakistani government to “stamp out” terror. It’s not nearly that simple.”

excerpt:

‘ To some extent, then, Pakistan’s powerful national-security apparatus has been divided against itself for much of the past decade. The contradictory agendas of various parts of the Pakistani government and of its shadowy networks of retired or ex-officers have created policy chaos. Even while the army is engaged in intense fighting against the Pakistani Taliban of Bajaur, it appears to be backing other Taliban groups that have struck at targets inside Afghanistan from south Waziristan, another tribal agency on the border of the two countries. Last June, when U.S. forces engaged in hot pursuit of these Taliban staging cross-border raids, they came under fire from Pakistani troops who sided with the Taliban. The complex layers of the ISI, a state within the state, make it questionable whether Musharraf ever really controlled it. Now Pakistan’s new civilian president is even less well-placed to control it, or to discover how the militant cells work, both inside the ISI and among the retirees. ‘

Read the whole thing.