Pakistan, unfortunately, is the nation that conclusively disproved the optimistic notions of “realists” like Kenneth Waltz, who argued that nuclear weapons made their custodians responsible. After all, generals like Musharraf watched Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan, the father of Pakistan’s atomic bomb, make deals with Libya, Iran, North Korea—and, undoubtedly, other nations—for nuclear technology. Two Pakistani nuclear scientists met with al Qaeda representatives in 2000 and 2001, which indicates the strength of the ties between extremist elements and the nation’s nuclear programs. And agents in the country’s Inter-Services Intelligence or ISI, have provided substantial support to al Qaeda and the Taliban. If the country’s military and civilian officials act this way, just imagine what its rogue elements will do. It’s safe to say that there are few responsible custodians of nuclear weaponry in the Pakistani government.Of course, that would be India's problem more than ours. And moreover, I doubt we know any more about Pakistan’s diverse peoples than we do about Iraq. One thing we can predict–the results of an invasion of Pakistan would be other than unexpected. What do we know about Pushtoonwalla, Baluchi independence movements, zamindars, or the Deobandi?
If fanatics take control of Islamabad, will we be willing to insert our military into Pakistan to secure its arsenal? If we are not, then are we prepared to let al Qaeda become the world’s 10th nuclear power?
Gordon Chang is nice enough to engage his commenters, but there seems to be no limit to the military commitments he wants this country to undertake, or the wars he wants to fight.
Such a future is certainly possible. The return of conscription, the tightening of the national security state to George Creel and Mitchell Palmer proportions, Americans raining death on civilians from the air and dying in large numbers, too. If Basiji landing craft were waiting offshore from Atlantic City, we might have no choice; they aren’t.
I prefer a regression to 1897. Reduce foreign entanglements; eliminate excessive dependence on foreign anything, including energy and credit; substantially restrict immigration; adopt enough tariffs and quotas to preserve strategic industries and what’s left of the American working class. Start bringing our troops home from the Old World, and paring down the obsolete commitments that put them there. Forget about using our military to democratize a reluctant world.
Instead, all the candidates with the possible exceptions of Ron Paul and Kucinich, are interventionists, though less openly than Gordon Chang. The Dems want to pare down the Iraq intervention, but that’s about it. Say “Darfur” and they’ll rev up the C-130s. If Olmert decides to drive to Damascus to raise his approval rating over 3% or to hold off the investigators, expect them all to applaud.
Tell the slacker generation to put away their GameBoys and cell phones, and get ready for 40-pound packs, MREs and Kevlar, ’cause that’s where this is going unless we change course.