At the debate of Democratic presidential candidates in Philadelphia last
week, Senator Joe Biden, who has more foresight than his competitors,
raised the specter of an "out-of-control Pakistan." Now it is with us.
The president, we were informed by a spokesman, was very disappointed by
Pervez Musharraf's suspension of constitutional law. Condi Rice demanded,
reported the New York Times, a "quick return to constitutional
law." This is a joke. She is a joke. Pakistan is another one of those
fantasies of a nation-state. The chaos and violence we have seen pales
before what we have yet to see. Pinky Bhutto is almost besides the point,
and Musharraf, too. They are masks for what is really happening in
Pakistan. This is a riven country, riven among Muslim sects, tribes,
clans, and grouplets mustered around war-lords. And a large army, plus an
air force. With nuclear arms. Yes, a very serious nuclear capacity in the
hands of reckless people.
So let me suggest this proposition: that if Pakistan descends further into
the inferno that I expect, it is the responsibility of the United States
-- not the United Nations, God forbid -- to secure the nuclear stockpile and
the manufacturing facilities and laboratories that underlay this
nightmare. Does the U.S. possess a practical scenario with this as a
goal? If not, be assured, no one else does.
Which raises the centrality of the United States as a keeper of world order.
What does the Democratic heartland think of this? I hope that Senator Biden goes back to his salient premonition soon.