The rumors of war have already begun. With the Pakistani government seeming to cower before the advance of the Taliban, there are mutterings that the U.S. might have to invade Pakistan. This isn’t news to Barack Obama. He warned in 2007 that he would unilaterally send U.S. troops into Pakistan if the government didn’t clamp down on the Taliban.
It seemed like empty talk from a candidate desperate to convince voters that he could be tough on terror. But let’s hope it was just talk. Because invading Pakistan would be a really, really bad idea. Here are five reasons why it would be a Bungle in Baluchistan:
Reason 1: If they don’t like us in Afghanistan, why would their cousins like us any better in Pakistan?
Reason 2: Invading Pakistan would be like the teaser on an adjustable-rate mortgage. Cheap at first, and then the monthly bill goes way, way up. Occupying Northwest Pakistan along the Afghan border would vastly expand the Afghan theater of operations. Occupy all of Pakistan? Not a chance. Even if they welcomed us with flowers and kisses, that’s 165 million people to govern in a nation that barely functions in the best of times. Surgical strikes using special forces and aircraft would only be pinpricks of temporary effect. And if U.S. forces aren’t going to stay in Pakistan, then what’s the point? The insurgents will follow the Golden Rule of Insurgency: Lay low until the enemy leaves.
Reason 3: We’re already fighting two wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. U.S. ground force are overstretched and worn-out. Britain is contributing about as much it can, and the rest of NATO is pretty much useless. Withdrawal from Iraq will free up troops, but this assumes that withdrawal will be smooth and on schedule, with no other crises in the Middle East or elsewhere that will drain our resources.
Reason 4: The American people aren’t in the mood for another war. Barack Obama doesn’t want to go down in history as a wartime president.
Reason 5: Pakistan has nukes. This really, really sucks. It’s even worse than North Korea, because say what you want about Kim Jong-il, at least you know the finger on the button belongs to a strong leader. The reason why nations like Pakistan and Iran develop nukes is their belief that no one would dare invade a nuclear-armed power. How badly do we want to test this theory? And even if U.S. special forces and aircraft could capture or destroy Pakistani nuclear bombs, we could never be sure that every bomb or bit of nuclear material had been neutralized. Maybe they would hand them to the Taliban. Maybe they would nuke India just to settle old scores.
But can you see the really scary part here? All of this is rational thinking. Yup. If we’re rational, we won’t invade Pakistan. Now excuse me while I bang my head against the desk.