"I am not worried about an invasion. I am worried about something like a fanatical Islamic government comes to power when The President of Pakistan is eventually assassinated and they then have access to nuclear weapons.
What do we do when that happens? Do we do a pre-emptive strike like the Israelis? I believe that we would have no CHOICE but to do so.
Then you will have WWIII.
It is only a matter of time until a scenario like the above occurs. be it nuclear or chemical -- it WILL happen."
I'm not so sure this will ever happen, Tom. Pakistan is much like Turkey in one critical respect ... it is essentially controlled by the military, and the military acts as a prevention against the Islamic fundies taking over the government. It's unlikely that the Pakistani mililtary would allow the fundies to take over the government because they are worried about what India would do if that were to happen. So I actually see the Pakistani situtation as fairly suitable for our own interests ... a little nervewracking but fairly suitable. A bigger risk is that some nuclear material is leaked out to the terrorists even while the Junta remains in power, and that is a serious risk we are running right now, but not only in Pakistan, there is also the risk that nuclear scientists and those with access to nuclear materials in various parts of the former Soviet union would provide material and/or assistance in exchange for cash, and as we know many of these terrorists, being as they are from Saudi Arabia, have quite a bit of cash. So it's really more of a non-proliferation threat, and a threat on a broader basis, than specifically a Pakistani threat.
I think that the bigger issue is "what is our strategy in the Middle East"? While I have some sympathy for the "let's just pull out of the Middle East and leave them alone" argument, I honestly don't think that this is feasible, even leaving aside our alliance with Israel for the moment. If we were to completely pull out of the Middle East in terms of our political support for admittedly autocractic, undemocratic regimes, their days would be numbered, and we would have, in essence, a bunch of Irans, or a bunch of countries embroiled in a civil war a la Algeria, for some time to come. The Bin Ladens of the world want us out so that they can trash the existing regimes and replace them with Islamic theocracies a la Iran. Clearly this is in no-one's interest, and certainly not, given that the region is a huge source of oil for Western Europe, and even an important one for North America. So I don't think the "pull out" option is really feasible, saves lives, promotes a positive future for the Middle East or anything else, and it is kind of self-indulgent because it basically amounts to the United States abdicating its responsibility to lead. Given the unprecedented degree of power we have, not just military, but political, social, economic, cultural, we have a responsibility to lead. But the question is: how, and what should be the policy.
Clearly it is our medium to long term goal to promote the development of stable, democractic-style regimes in the region. This is the win/win scenario, better for us, better for the people who live in the region. The question is how do we get from where we are today to where we want the region to be? How, for example, do we transition countries in the region from true Kingdoms like Saudi or Oman or Jordan, to gradually more democratic regimes? One key would seem to be to promote economic development on a broader scale so as to create a larger middle class. There is plenty of wealth in the Middle East,as we know, but it is poorly distributed. One way to approach this would be to pressure the regimes in the region to reorganize their economies in this way, over time,and there are carrots and sticks we could use to do that. It is a tight-rope of, on the one hand, trying to prevent Saudi from becoming another Iran, while on the other, encouraging a transition from autocracy in economic and political terms, to some kind of Islamic-style democracy. This is certainly a challenge, but it seems to me to be the central one for us and for the remainder of the world, in trying to help the Islamic world come up to par with everyone else. Noone is really talking about this, however, and that is very troubling.