Yesterday the Pentagon presented its recommendations to the White House for how to defeat ISIS. It is likely that the military campaign that will follow President Trump’s final decision will look a good deal like President Obama’s, albeit with looser restrictions, and possibly a dimmer view towards Iranian influence in Iraq. Meanwhile, the Pentagon, the State Department, and the National Security Council are all hard at work formulating a new approach in Afghanistan. They must resist the temptation to recommend a “more-of-the-same-but-with-a-freer-hand” approach to the president.
The world’s most dangerous arms race is not to be found in Moscow and Washington, or in East Asia, where tensions are high on the Korean Peninsula and a showdown looms in the Western Pacific between Beijing and the United States. Nor is it to be found in the Middle East, a region in turmoil where two powers–Iran and Saudi Arabia–are engaged in proxy warfare in several hotspots. No, the answer lies in South Asia, and the ongoing rivalry between India and Pakistan.
ISIS evidently has a presence in Pakistan–and one significant enough that established regional terror groups are willing to work with it. Here’s the greatest threat that an ISIS presence in Pakistan poses, and it’s one that policymakers should plan for now: the potential escalations that could follow a major terrorist attack on India, Pakistan’s arch-foe. The aftermath of such an assault could have global consequences if both countries are not careful.