December 31, 2006

The Perils of Pakistan

Hatched by Dafydd

Unlike the usual incisive, cutting, edgy news analysis you're used to finding on Big Lizards, this post will be much more speculative (that is, of no value whatsoever). So don't bother reading it: you'll be bored, and it will just annoy you. I'm sure it already has!

I was fretting about what will eventually happen to Pakistan, where the anti-Islamist military dictatorship of Gen. Pervez Musharraf hangs by a thread. There are only three ways it can end:

  • Musharraf is assassinated and his government overthrown; the radical Islamists take over and turn Pakistan into a terrorist state, just like Afghanistan under the Taliban;
  • Musharraf survives until he dies a natural death... at which point, the radical Islamists take over and turn Pakistan into a terrorist state, just like Afghanistan under the Taliban;
  • Musharraf is forced to cut a deal with the radical Islamists in order to survive; he and they turn Pakistan into a terrorist state, just like Afghanistan under the Taliban.

Not a happy prospect, eh? But wait, let's not be too hasty...

The reason we cannot completely crush the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan is that both Pakistan and Iran serve as "safe havens" for these terrorists: they can attack us, then quickly retreat across the international borders, raise their robes, and moon the Coalition forces. As in Vietnam, our rules of engagement (ROEs) do not permit us to invade Iran now.

But Pakistan is a different matter: we cannot invade there precisely because it would put Musharraf's rule at risk. If he cannot even stop the infidel crusaders from rampaging around Pakistan, the Pakistanis would probably rise up in revolt, catapulting the radical Islamists into control of etc.

But lo -- if this had already befallen that country, and it were already a terror-supporting state through any of the scenarios above, then there would no longer be any reason for "hot pursuit" of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan to stop at the border: there would be no ally to protect.

Thus, paradoxically, were Pakistan to fall, it might make it much easier for us to eradicate al-Qaeda: if they fled east, we could follow them to the gates of Kashmir, if necessary, to find and destroy them.

Admittedly, it would be a sphincter-contracting scenario to have a radical Islamist state that actually has a nuclear capability; but Pakistan's bitterest enemy is not the United States but rather India; and India is likewise nuked up and far more likely to lob a few towards Islamabad than would we.

Besides retaliation, there is also the difficulty of Pakistan landing one on Kabul... which one would hope is by now ringed with air defenses, including anti-ballistic missile systems. It's much more likely that our own nuclear retaliation would get through to Pakistan -- than that a putative Pakistan nuclear strike would hit major cities in Afghanistan.

Of course, a jihadist Pakistan might also pass the nukes off to al-Qaeda or some other terrorist group. But Pakistan would have to know that we would retaliate against both itself and Iran, were we to experience a nuclear attack... even one that seemingly came from an "unconnected" terrorist group. This is another check on their behavior: unlike Hezbollah or Hamas, Pakistan has an actual functioning government to maintain and civil society to appease.

Thus, while it would certainly be dicey, we may actually be better off if Pakistan fell to the Islamists than if it stayed in the hands of a dictatorial leader who is less than enthusiastic about pursuing al-Qaeda -- or even letting us do so.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, December 31, 2006, at the time of 7:20 AM

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The following hissed in response by: Cowgirl

Musharraf is walking a fine line. He knows that Western out-sourced manufacturing and other jobs are helping the Pakistani economy, and raising the standard of living for the people. He also knows that is threatened by the Islamonuts who are trying to kill him and overthrow the government. If he alienates the West, the economy tanks and the country is lost. If he offends the Muslims, the country is lost. Not an enviable position to be in.

The above hissed in response by: Cowgirl [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 31, 2006 8:21 AM

The following hissed in response by: nk

It might not be as bleak as that. If Pakistan succeeds in forging a lasting alliance between the oligoi, the military, and the government bureaucracy, which survives Musharraf and truly wields the power regardless of who his titular successors may be, as Turkey has done, it will be able to withstand radical Islam in the same way Turkey has.

The above hissed in response by: nk [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 31, 2006 9:46 AM

The following hissed in response by: hunter

I would respectfully submit a fourth outcome:
The dictator is replaced by another anti-Islamofascist leader/dictator.
In the history of things, this actually a very likely outcome.
Musharaff is not alone in Pakistan in recognizing the negatives of islamofascist rule. If he was, he would not be in power. The other likely outcome is that as we continue to defeat the islamofascists, their credibility and attraction will continue to dissipate. This would allow a much less worrying transition from military dictatorship, avoiding the detour of theocratic islamofascism.
My bet is that we are working to see that such outcomes are more likely than not.

The above hissed in response by: hunter [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 31, 2006 10:37 AM

The following hissed in response by: Rod

Your 3 outcomes are far from complete. Right off the top of my old Jarhead I can think of a fourth. He turns his army free and lets them kill the MuslimFascists! Which BTW is what we should have done 3 years ago.
Then he -and we - can sleep in peace and die knowing our children will enjoy liberty.

an old Jarhead

The above hissed in response by: Rod [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 31, 2006 5:28 PM

The following hissed in response by: karrde

One reason Musharraf may not have been too eager to kill off the Islamists in-country:

As long as Musharraf has bad guys inside his territory, the West has some incentive to pay him, support his military, and not (as Daffyd said) invade Pakistan looking for Islamists.

I don't know how much of this effect is at work. But it might be part of the reason why there is still some Islamist presence in Pakistan.

The above hissed in response by: karrde [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 31, 2006 7:52 PM

The following hissed in response by: Oldcrow

The minute Musharraf is out the Islamists will take over. Then the war with India will begin remember to the Pakistani Islamists Kashmir is everything, we will see an escalating conventional war at first then a Nuke will be used at this point the biggest concern will be China stepping in since they view India as a far bigger threat than the U.S. and support Pakistan as a result. Yes at first it would be a good thing but it would become a nightmare very quickly.

The above hissed in response by: Oldcrow [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 31, 2006 9:29 PM

The following hissed in response by: howardhughes

Pakistan resembles Iran in many ways before Jimmy Carter pulled support for the Shah. Perhaps the U.S. will have learned its lessons from that disasterous action a generation ago and try to moderate the islamists in Pakistan during the next generation rather than express our indignation at a government not Democratic like ours but which for the present works. Pakistan's progress in settling the conflict with India over Kashmir is a major step forward and offers promise social progress will continue under Musharraff's rule.

The above hissed in response by: howardhughes [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 1, 2007 4:25 AM

The following hissed in response by: nk

Pakistan resembles most the Weimar Republic. Its fate will depend on the pillars of its society -- the affluent and well-educated, the military, the civil servants. Unlike the Weimar Republic, its Church is not a pillar but a pit of quicksand and the likely breeder of a servant of Chaos. The danger to be avoided. (Perhaps a subject for a different thread but the best reason for the extirpation of Islam with the same ruthlessness as the extirpation of the human-sacrificing Phoenicians and Aztecs -- they cannot co-exist with humanity.)

The above hissed in response by: nk [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 1, 2007 8:15 PM

The following hissed in response by: LarryD

Islam is inextricably bound up with the traditional Muslim way of life, which, like all such ways of life, fractures and disintegrates under the influence of modern life. Radical Islam really is at war with modernity itself.

Iran, the earliest Radical Islamic regime, has at best a few decades left. But this is exactly why they are so desperate and dangerous, and cannot be allowed nuclear weapons. Their oil product is declining fast, more due to lack of proper maintenance than exhaustion of the fields themselves.

The Radicals have no hope, nowhere to retreat to, and will not see their way of life die quietly. They will not give the rest of us any choice but to submit to their way of life, or kill them.

The above hissed in response by: LarryD [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 2, 2007 10:06 AM

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