Pakistan’s officer corps and ruling elites remain largely moderate and more interested in building a strong, modern state than in exporting terrorism or nuclear weapons to the highest bidder. But then again, Americans felt similarly about the shah’s regime in Iran until it was too late.
Moreover, Pakistan’s intelligence services contain enough sympathizers and supporters of the Afghan Taliban, and enough nationalists bent on seizing the disputed province of Kashmir from India, that there are grounds for real worries.
The most likely possible dangers are these: a complete collapse of Pakistani government rule that allows an extreme Islamist movement to fill the vacuum; a total loss of federal control over outlying provinces, which splinter along ethnic and tribal lines; or a struggle within the Pakistani military in which the minority sympathetic to the Taliban and Al Qaeda try to establish Pakistan as a state sponsor of terrorism. All possible military initiatives to avoid those possibilities are daunting.
With 160 million people, Pakistan is more than five times the size of Iraq. It would take a long time to move large numbers of American forces halfway across the world. And unless we had precise information about the location of all of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons and materials, we could not rely on bombing or using Special Forces to destroy them.
The task of stabilizing a collapsed Pakistan is beyond the means of the United States and its allies. Rule-of-thumb estimates suggest that a force of more than a million troops would be required for a country of this size. Thus, if we have any hope of success, we would have to act before a complete government collapse, and we would need the cooperation of moderate Pakistani forces.
I do not dispute that the collapse of Pakistan could pose problems for us, but as I have seen nothing that indicates that this will happen anytime soon. I think we're putting the cart before the horse here. However, there are greater problems here.
Furthermore, with Iraq, an argument was made for preventive war ("regime change" if you will) on the basis that the WMD program did pose an immediate threat to the security of the United States. Now, we have an argument for a preventive war to prevent a situation where we have to go to a war that could be far more daunting and challenging than what we have faced before? We fight now so we don't have to fight later? Are we suggesting that our foreign policy calls for us to use military force against the possibility, however remote, that an enemy "may" be a threat to our national security at some undetermined point in the future?
Kagan and O'Hanlon, at seems, are selling "regime stabilzation" as part of our wide array of products and services designed to make the world safe for democracy. If I order now, do I get the free AEI Signature Series neoconservative bobblehead doll whose head pops off at very mention of Ron Paul's name?
Anyway, quoting Erin Manning at CrunchyCon:
Although I certainly want America and Americans protected from terrorists, I also want America to remain America, and I can't even imagine any of the founding fathers accepting acquiescently the notion that the government of the United States has the power to fight an embryonic "pre-war" in an effort to maintain the status quo of our relationship with another sovereign nation. To be blunt, I can hardly imagine a less American idea.
Gasp!!! You don't want another 9/11 do you? Just kidding. I couldn't have said it better myself.