Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Time to hold your nose and stick by Pakistan

I've been following the crack down in Pakistan, but I've yet to comment. There is a reason for that. Our impulse is to jump right in when situations arise like that in Pakistan right now. It is not in our interest to do that here, though. It is in our best interest to say the right things but stay the hell out of it. As much as I'd love to see Pakistan operate as a functioning Democratic Republic, the time just isn't right for it. The nation is boiling with radical Islam. It is an acknowledged nuclear state. That means that it is not the right place for our idealism right now. General Musharraf is the means by which that volatile nation remains stable. There might be other means, but with the Pakistani nuclear sword dangling over the world, any other means cannot be risked.

Interestingly, Slate brings up another reason that it is in our best interests to stand by Musharraf:

And there's an even bigger problem: What does it say to U.S. allies in the war on terror—especially those Arab and Muslim states, like Egypt and Saudi Arabia, that are sometimes committed to fighting Islamists and sometimes not—that Washington doesn't support its friends in a battle it enlisted them to fight? There are some Egyptian analysts who hold the Carter administration responsible for the assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat because Washington failed to stand by the shah against the Islamist maelstrom. Who knows—perhaps the shah's time had come no matter what the haplessly naive Carter administration did. But today, what leader in the Muslim world would dare tackle extremism if he knows he will get dressed down by the secretary of state at crunch time?

On one hand, I do feel for the Pakistani people. On the other hand, a good portion of the Pakistani people would have no problems with seeing Americans burn. Thus, for the time being, Pakistan is no place for us to waste our idealism. Cold, hard realism has to be the name of the game. There is just too much riding on it for it to be any other way.

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