It's real - and terrifying. In so many ways, Pakistan is more threatening than Iran or Iraq. It already has a nuke; it is harboring a safe haven for al Qaeda; its strongman may be overplaying his hand; and a coup could bring Islamists to power. Crooked Timber wonders why the blogosphere is not more exercized about this.Sullivan and this blogger he links to are right. Pakistan presents a lot of difficult foreign policy challenges, not the least of which is that Osama bin Laden happily inhabits the lawless western region of the country. Pakistan, China and India, all three with nuclear weapons, share a deep mutual distrust that many fear will lead to proliferation, particularly as a result of the intractable Kashmir dispute. Pakistan's human rights abuses rival Saudi Arabia and their sizable radical elements resemble Afghanistan's--because they basically are the Taliban.
But we had to go attack Iraq.
Not saying that we should have attacked Pakistan in 2002 or 2003, but can you imagine what that region would look like today if we had sent the 160,000 soldiers we now have in Iraq into Eastern Afghanistan and then issued an ultimatum on bin Laden?
Making matters worse is the likelihood that Sullivan is hinting at--we're going to have to deal with Pakistan one of these days. After Iraq, we'll have to do it from a far weaker position, far worse economic condition and with a wearier disposition.