As the nameless U.S. diplomats told the Washington Post yesterday, “The administration has long sought to pressure Pakistan, but to do so in a nuanced way that does not sever the U.S. relationship with a country that American officials see as crucial to winning the war in Afghanistan and maintaining long-term stability in the region.” The Pakistanis, in short, continue to murder Americans with impunity by threatening us with their own failure. It’s the geopolitical equivalent of the scene in Blazing Saddles in which the black sheriff intimidates a lynch mob by holding a gun to his own head and threatening to shoot himself.
We are not going to get “long-term stability in the region” or anywhere in the Muslim world, for that matter. There are too many reputations and foundation grants at stake in the Republican world to have a sensible debate about the failings of the Bush Freedom Agenda. In the lead up to an election year, some of my fellow neoconservatives think it treasonable to talk about the failings of our own side. But the fact is that we got our arm stuck in the Iraqi tar baby while Iran built up its terror capabilities and advanced its nuclear weapons program. We should have done what Daniel Pipes proposed in 2003: install a strongman, and leave. If the strongman didn’t work out, invade again, install a new one, and leave again.
It is a howling disgrace that the United States of America permits a fourth-rate power like Pakistan to collude with terrorists to attack an American embassy. The American people will never understand or accept such a thing.
We should have allied with India from the outset to sort out the Afghani problem by encircling Pakistan. Now that the Chinese have moved into the situation with their customary opportunism, the equation is considerable tougher to solve — but not impossible. China views Pakistan with profound ambivalence, particularly because Pakistan allows Chinese Muslim terrorists to operate on their common border.
I wrote Why Civilizations Die (and Why Islam is Dying, Too) to destroy the illusion that stability in the Muslim world is an achievable goal. The Muslim world has entered a civilizational tailspin, visible in the convulsive failure perversely called “the Arab Spring,” and the apocalyptic pessimism that has taken hold of Iran — and, seemingly, Turkey. An abyss of instability yawns from Libya to Afghanistan. We cannot bring stability, let along democracy, to this part of the world. At best we can insulate ourselves from the consequences.
The first thing to do is to ensure that state sponsors of terrorism tremble in fear of the consequences of taking American lives. Let them worry about instability. And let their paranoid imaginations run wild concerning what we might to do them.