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India and Pakistan:Thinking the Unthinkable

By       Message Conn Hallinan       (Page 1 of 5 pages)     Permalink

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From Dispatches From The Edge

Nuclear Future
Nuclear Future
(Image by Craig Myran Photography)
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President-elect Donald Trump's off the cuff, chaotic approach to foreign policy had at least one thing going for it, even though it was more the feel of a blind pig rooting for acorns than a thought out international initiative. In speaking with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Trump said he wanted "to address and find solutions to the county's [Pakistan's] problems."

Whether Trump understands exactly how dangerous the current tensions between Pakistan and India are, or if anything will come from the Nov. 30 exchange between the two leaders, is anyone's guess, but it is more than the Obama administration has done over the past eight years, in spite of a 2008 election promise to address the on-going crisis in Kashmir.

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And right now that troubled land is the single most dangerous spot on the globe.

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India and Pakistan have fought three wars over the disputed province in the past six decades and came within a hair's breadth of a nuclear exchange in 1999. Both countries are on a crash program to produce nuclear weapons, and between them they have enough explosive power to not only kill more than 20 million of their own people, but to devastate the world's ozone layer and throw the Northern Hemisphere into a nuclear winter with a catastrophic impact on agriculture worldwide.

According to studies done at Rutgers, the University of Colorado-Boulder, and the University of California Los Angeles, if both countries detonated 100 Hiroshima size bombs, it would generate between 1 and 5 million tons of smoke that within 10 days would drive temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere down to levels too cold for wheat production in much of Canada and Russia. The resulting 10 percent drop in rainfall -- particularly hard hit would be the Asian monsoon -- would exhaust worldwide food supplies, leading to the starvation of up to 100 million plus people.

Aside from the food crisis, a nuclear war in South Asia would destroy between 25 to 70 percent of the Northern Hemisphere's ozone layer, resulting in a massive increase in dangerous ultra-violent radiation.

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Lest anyone think that the chances of such a war are slight, consider two recent developments.

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Conn M. Hallinan is a columnist for Foreign Policy In Focus, "A Think Tank Without Walls, and an independent journalist. He holds a PhD in Anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley. He oversaw the (more...)
 

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