This from my latest in the National:
If Condoleezza Rice had been looking for some in-flight movies pertinent to her mission in South Asia over the past few days, she ought to have considered Rambo III. Or Pinocchio. Or Frankenstein. Aladdin, even.
All four could help explain the background to the Mumbai massacre that has brought India and Pakistan to the brink of confrontation. Pinocchio and Frankenstein, after all, are cautionary tales about how those who fabricate creatures to do their bidding are often forced to reckon with the often vindictive impulses of their creations. Aladdin unleashes a genie who has his own agenda. And Rambo III, in which Sylvester Stallone’s action-hero joins up with the Afghan mujahideen to fight the Soviets (just like a certain Mr Bin Laden) should serve as a timely reminder that support for holy warriors waging jihad had been an article of faith in Ronald Reagan’s Washington.
Pakistan’s intelligence service, the ISI, had served as the conduit for Washington to use the Afghan mujahideen and the Arab volunteers who joined them, to wage a proxy war on the Soviets. And from the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993 to the 9/11 attacks, the monster created by assembling an Islamist International for combat and training in Afghanistan turned on its erstwhile patron to deadly effect.
But after the US walked away when the Soviets limped out of Afghanistan, the Pakistanis used the proxy war model to pursue their own regional agenda.
Mumbai appears to be a case of Pakistan’s proxies having broken free of their patron, wreaking havoc in pursuit of their own agenda in a manner that could have devastating consequences for Pakistan. Proxies, by nature, have their own agenda that coincides with that of their sponsor only for a limited time, and while cooperation helps the sponsors to achieve certain tactical goals, it also empowers the proxy for the pursuit of its own agenda, which is often ultimately in conflict with that of their erstwhile sponsor.