Sunday, May 13, 2007

Black Sheep

Pakistan is the black sheep of our alliance structure. A long-time friend, they complicate simple friendship with Islamo-fascism embedding in their country, their nukes, and their hostility toward India which is our new friend.

But we need Pakistan to fight the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan. And we need Pakistan to try and control their side of the border where jihadis have refuge.

Pakistan's importance to fighting in Afghanistan cannot be over-stated. Lose them and we lose our best route in. And so we can't pressure Pakistan too much to democratize out of fear of destabilizing Pakistan in the short run. In the long run, it would be better to push Pakistan toward elections sooner before Islamists gain more influence by opposing dictatorship. But we can't afford to look long run when the short-run war in Afghanistan is going on.

Which makes this worrisome:

Pro-government and opposition groups blamed each other Sunday for the worst political violence to grip Pakistan in years, as fresh riots broke out and the toll from bloody street battles in Karachi rose to 37 dead and more than 150 wounded.

Of course, if we could open up a land route to Afghanistan through a friendly Iran, we would cut this Gordian Knot of a geopolitical problem:

Open up a supply route through Iran to Afghanistan and suddenly we don't need to be quite so reliant on our Central Asian bases or so careful with a Pakistan that will not crack down on the Taliban who hide and organize inside Pakistan. We won't have to be so shy when it comes to hunting bin Laden there, either.

I want Pakistan to defeat their jihadis and remain a friend of ours. But we are in a tough position because of Afghanistan's geography in pushing Pakistan toward a normal existence free of jihadi influence. Reduce Pakistan's importance in fighting in Afghanistan and they have less leverage to resist our pressure to reform and crack down on the fanatics.

Free Iran from the rule of the mullahs and our freedom of action in the region expands greatly.

Iran really is a source of a lot of problems for us.