Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Friday, April 24, 2009

Obama's Munich Moment

Pakistan is looking like Cuba in the 1950s and Iran in the '70s as armed zealots start to take over a country without the will to resist.

Accusing Pakistani leaders of "basically abdicating to the Taliban and the extremists," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sounded the alarm yesterday before the House Foreign Affairs Committee:

"We cannot underscore the seriousness of the existential threat posed to the state of Pakistan by continuing advances, now within hours of Islamabad, that are being made by a loosely confederated group of terrorists and others who are seeking the overthrow of the Pakistani state."

As Congress debates $7.5 billion in new aid and an "extremely concerned" White House awaits a scheduled visit early next month by the Pakistani president, the growing threat of an extremist takeover of a nuclear-armed nation rises to the top of America's foreign policy agenda.

"The Pakistani government is fiddling as the Northwest Frontier Province burns," warns a statement from Amnesty International, noting that hundreds of thousands of Pakistanis are "now at the mercy of abusive and repressive Taliban groups."

The Obama Administration is facing a Munich-like moment in the Middle East, and it will be a true test for a new president who has been accused of overestimating conciliation and lacking toughness in dealing with allies and adversaries.

This one, unlike George W. Bush's pre-invasion rhetoric about Iraq, does involve the real possibility of mushroom clouds.

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