… you get bitten. The government of Pakistan has found this out the hard way, as CBS News reports:

Black-turbaned militants roamed city streets and seized buildings in a northwestern Pakistan valley Tuesday as thousands of people fled fighting between the Taliban and troops that the government said could lead to an exodus of half a million people. The Taliban declared the end of their peace deal with the government.

The breakdown of Pakistan’s concession of Swat Valley to the Taliban was a predictable outcome. It is impossible to reach any kind of stable agreement with irrational extremists. I had blogged before on how unwise such an agreement was. The historical parallel I cited — i.e. the period of Danish conquest of England around the turn of the 11th century, especially the reign of King Æthelred II — has followed pretty much as I expected.

The Pakistan government had thought the concession of Swat Valley would pacify the Taliban … but as happened in the past, eager invaders are not easily satisfied with small concessions. They want the whole thing. The concession itself is never sufficient. Instead, concessions are interpreted as a sign of weakness, and encourage, rather than discourage, further aggression.

Of course, it’s not as though the US hasn’t been warning the Pakistani government about the folly of these agreements, as CBS News goes on to relate:

Pakistan’s leader prepared for talks in Washington with Mr. Obama on how to sharpen his country’s fight against al Qaeda and the Taliban, which are blamed for attacks in both Pakistan and Afghanistan. The deteriorating Swat Valley truce with the Taliban, which American officials opposed from the start, is expected to play a prominent role in the discussions.

CBS News chief foreign affairs correspondent Lara Logan says Mr. Obama will stress how Pakistan’s efforts to achieve peace with the Taliban are failing.

“The biggest difference of opinion between the U.S.’s position and the Pakistanis’ is that some kind of peace deal is still the way to go – negotiating with these people, avoiding high civilian casualties, etc. That clearly is not working,” Logan told CBS Early Show anchor Harry Smith.

So the Pakistani government knew better than to make “a deal with the devil” (as they say) — but they did it anyway, knowing it was foolish to do so. They cannot claim ignorance of their own stupid choice. They did so, very likely due to the fact that the Pakistani government is riddled with people who sympathize with or even support the Taliban. Definitely this is not a good situation for Pakistan or for the world as a whole.

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