Gideon's Blog

In direct contravention of my wife's explicit instructions, herewith I inaugurate my first blog. Long may it prosper.

For some reason, I think I have something to say to you. You think you have something to say to me? Email me at: gideonsblogger -at- yahoo -dot- com

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Wednesday, January 15, 2003
Today's WSJ editorial page was particularly excellent. Ralph Peters has a piece about Pakistan called Hamlet of the Indus that is one of the more fair-mindedly pessimistic pieces on the country and our relations with it that I have read. His bottom line: Pakistan is not a country, not a nation, and barely a state. Musharraf is minimally useful to us because while he is a genuine patriot he is in an untenable position. In fact, all of Pakistan is in a psychologically untenable position, unable to pursue the national interest because the national identity is bound up in a dispute about Kashmir whose only end can be devastating war with a stronger neighbor. However, because Musharraf is a genuine patriot, and does not want conflict with the U.S., he's the least bad of a series of bad alternatives. Therefore we should work with him, but expect little of him, and not depend on him at all. And we should absolutely not let ourselves get dragged into mediating the dispute over Kashmir, since mediation is impossible and will only alienate both sides.

That sounds right to me. But I wonder if we have the luxury of our current cautious policy. Pakistan is a problem similar in many ways to North Korea. They've got nukes, and there is too great a risk that, from them, hard-core evildoers who would blow one up in an American city will get nukes. So what do we do? The diplomatic and geostrategic problem of Pakistan is even tougher than North Korea because Pakistan has done nothing to provoke conflict with the United States, because Pakistan is definitively a nuclear power (North Korea has not yet performed a nuclear test, the only definitive proof), and because events in Pakistan will have a spillover effect not only on India but across the Muslim world. Pakistan is a very bad accident waiting to happen, and I don't know what we can do about it.