The Corner

The one and only.

Pakistani Punditry


Lost in all the frenzied reaction to the Bhutto assassination is any consistency of critique. So we hear that the U.S. is to be blamed for not pressuring Musharraf, and yet blamed for putting all our eggs in the democratic basket of Benazir Bhutto. So what is it, are we naive and utopian to keep trying to plug away in fostering consensual governments in Afghanistan and Iraq, pressuring Syria to keep out of Lebanon, and jawboning the Gulf monarchies and Mubarak, lecturing Musharraf, etc. — or are we cold-blooded and cynical in dealing in the here  and now with these existing autocracies?

And the furor over WMD is not logical either.  The greatest diplomatic lapse in the last quarter-century was the allowance of Pakistan to go nuclear in 1998, in part due to the failures of the CIA (over three administrations) and the distractions and lack of consistency in dealing with the final stages of this crisis by the distracted Clinton administration.

Yet, we know that Iraq will not reacquire WMD; our supposedly brilliant intelligence agencies claim Iran quit its nuclear-weapons program in 2003 (right after our removal of Saddam), Libya came clean about the same time and for the same reasons, and we are told North Korea has at least ostensibly ceased.

So when we talk about our current failures vis-a-vis Pakistan and the general chaos abroad, history may take a longer view, and see that our present dismal prospects in Pakistan derive in large part from its nuclearization (Khan was exposed and his nuclear profiteering abroad shut down in 2003/4) a decade ago, and that, contrary to conventional wisdom, we have done pretty well in trying to limit the number of new nuclear states during the last few years.