By a truly remarkable coincidence, right around the time we were digging an old has-been anti-Islamicist dictator out of his grungy foxhole, the pro-American dictator of Pakistan reportedly came within seven seconds of being blown up by a half-ton bomb in a supposedly ultra-secure portion of his capital city. President Musharaf has no obvious successor.
A few important points. Pakistan has a population approaching that of the entire Arab world combined, numerous nuclear weapons, medium range missiles, and (I suspect) more violent Islamic fanatics than the rest of the world combined. With the local Madrasas turning out huge coherts of Taliban-type supporters, the Islamicist political parties some months ago won the relatively free elections in several of Pakistan’s more important provinces.
As far as I can recall, no Arab army has won any major military victory in he last 1000 years. By contast, the British regarded the Punjabi Muslims as the best infantrymen in the world. My guess is that Pakistan’s army is about an order of magnitude stronger than that of all Arab regimes combined.
Sending the U.S. army to occupy Iraq is dumb and dangerous because the Iraqis are violent and disorganized. Sending an American army to occupy Pakistan—namely “fighting a land war in Asia” in Eisenhower’s words—would be orders of magnitude more dangerous.
I recall that about a year ago I suggested the possible takeover of Pakistan by violent Islamicists as one of the most dangerous possible collateral risks of our planned Adventure in Iraq. If the Presidential convoy had been seven seconds slower, this might well be occurring right now.
If Islamicists were on the verge of seizing Pakistan, what would be our best options? It seems to me that many millions might likely die, perhaps with nukes being used for the first time since 1945, and with consequences that might well destabilize the entire planet.
Back in the old days, conservatives were actually conservative, and regarded huge, risky leaps into the unknown—whether social or military—with endless potential adverse consequences as the plans of radicals and lunatics.
Dispatching hundreds of thousands of Christian soldiers to conquer and occupy a Muslim country for the first time in three generations in the center of the volitile Mid East for no clear reason other than perhaps the ideology of promoting a Worldwide Democratic Revolution really seems like the sort of Socialist Adventurism that once gave the Trotskyites a very bad name in certain circles.