I spent 90 minutes listening to Council on Foreign Relations fellow Daniel Markey analyze and take questions from journalists on the crisis engulfing Pakistan. (The audio of the call is here.) It was an extremely sobering discussion, especially given Markey’s assessment of the creeping Talibanism that has moved from the Tribal Regions into the cities and traditional moderate strongholds of the country. Also disquieting were the number of questions about whether President Bush pushed Musharraf too hard or not hard enough, as though American foreign policy can somehow bring about a deradicalization of the Islamist minority in the country. (Markey’s recent policy paper on Pakistan is here.)
Markey was careful to point out that Pakistan is a nation of 160 million, and while there are millions who would welcome the advent of a fundamentalist regime every bit as repressive as the Taliban, that it is nowhere near the majority position. But chaos is easily ignited and spread, and while Markey does not believe the security surrounding Pakistan’s nukes is any different today than it was yesterday, he did caution that the security establishment in Pakistan is compromised by radicals, and that the nuclear establishment has to be understood as part of, not apart from the country in which it exists.
Today’s program will feature Mark Steyn, Stanley Kurtz (whose excellent “Tribes of Terror” appeared in the December Claremont Review of Books) Max Boot, Victor Davis Hanson, Lileks, Congressman David Dreier who met with Bhutto last week, and hopefully Andrew McCarthy. NationalReview.com ran a symposium on Pakistan earlier today which should be read far and wide.