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Unformatted text preview: PAGE 7 MOHAMMAD ZUBAIR/AP/PA PHOTOS THEWORLDTODAY.ORG FEBRUARY 2008 p AKISTAN IS A FASCINATING BUT disturbing example of risk assessment by the western media and policymakers, especially when it comes to developments in the Muslim world. There is an enormous amount of public and private discussion of the supposed extreme dangers stemming from Pakistan – sometimes described, as by the United States nuclear proliferation expert Joe Cirincione – as ‘the most dangerous place on earth’. Fears are concentrated on the twin threats of Islamist revolution and of the state losing control of its nuclear deterrent to terrorists. In fact, these eventualities are very unlikely; or rather, they could only happen as a result of US military intervention in Pakistan. We need to turn our risk analysis of Pakistan on its head and assess it, above all, in terms of US policy. Meanwhile other, far greater long-term threats to its viability as an organised state and society are completely ignored, not just by the media and policymakers, but by most area spets. These relate above all to the potentially catastrophic coming together, several decades in the future, of population growth and the effects of climate change on water supplies. The fact that the greatest short-term risk of geopolitical disaster in Pakistan comes from US intervention means the effects of western Risk analysts are getting it wrong in Pakistan. Fears of an Islamic state, or loose nukes – the capture of the nation’s arsenal by extremists – will only come about if the west makes policy mistakes. Instead, long-term issues like climate change and population growth are the real threats. Real and Imagınary Rısks PAKISTAN ANATOL LIEVEN CHAIR OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND TERRORISM STUDIES, KING’S COLLEGE LONDON. THIS IS BASED ON HIS LATEST BOOK, Ethical Realism: A Vision For America’s Role In The World, Vintage Books, CO-AUTHORED WITH JOHN HULSMAN PAGE 8 THEWORLDTODAY.ORG FEBRUARY 2008 | INDEPENDENT THINKING ON INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS misinterpretation and exaggeration of risks in that country contribute directly to increasing those very risks, by making the likelihood of a US attack greater. The western media’s portrayal of the short- term dangers in Pakistan also encapsulates a whole set of wider problems in reporting and analysis: an obsession with attention-grabbing headlines; an indifference to careful research and the gathering of facts; and an inability or unwillingness on the part of analysts and journalists to think themselves into the shoes of political and military actors from other cultures – even when these are as close to traditional western thinking, as are most Pakistani generals....
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This note was uploaded on 02/01/2012 for the course POLS 494 taught by Professor Garymoncrief during the Fall '11 term at Boise State.

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