Monday, May 04, 2009


Hypothetical? No more.

Just when you thought you knew the unthinkable - now there’s this:

“If the worst, the unthinkable, were to happen, and this advancing Taliban encouraged and supported by Al Qaeda and other extremists were to essentially topple the government for failure to beat them back,” Hillary Clinton said at the weekend, “then they would have the keys to the nuclear arsenal of Pakistan.”

The Sunni organization’s stunning momentum of late in taking over key territory in Pakistan raises the question, could the Taliban have a bomb before Tehran does?

The nightmare scenario of a nuclear Taliban was much in evidence in a Sunday editorial in The New York Times regarding the Pakistani military.

“And - most frightening of all - if the army cannot or will not defend its own territory against the militants, how can anyone be sure it will protect Pakistan?s 60 or so nuclear weapons?” the Times asked.

Clinton was right, the Times continued, when she warned last week that Pakistan was ‘abdicating to the Taliban.’”

Here in Israel - in the eerie interregnum between air raid sirens last week marking the memorial day for victims of the Holocaust and air raid sirens this week marking the memorial day for fallen soldiers and victims of terrorism - the specter of a atom-packing Taliban lends an unaccustomed measure of uncharted territory to the all-too-familiar domain of the unthinkable.

In fact, as heavily as the prospect of catastrophe weighs during this period, Israelis may take a measure of cold comfort in the extent to which the Taliban relates to the Jewish state.

It doesn’t.

Perhaps alone of all radical Islamic movements, the Taliban has taken no interest in Israel. It makes no pronouncements, threatens no annihilation, it has launched no campaigns to organize in the West Bank and Gaza.

Were they to take over Pakistan, they would lack delivery systems capable of reaching Israel, even if for some reason they decided on such a course.

Nonetheless, for some reason that goes beyond reason, I’ve decided to clean out our bomb shelter anyway. Perhaps because a Taliban bomb might convince Tehran to redouble its own long-delayed efforts at achieving a nuclear capability. Or because a bomb in Pakistan could be moved to a neighboring country with delivery capabilities.

Or because a hardline coalition legislator has suggested that the Taliban threat is one of the best reasons yet to unilaterally and pre-emptively bomb Iran.

“If we take this action,” Yaakov Katz of the far-right National Union party was quoted as saying on Sunday, “the U.S. is likely to act the same way against the rising terror threat in Islamabad, Pakistan.”

Or maybe it’s because, at a time of serial unthinkabilities, a prepared shelter is just one less thing to have to think about.

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