The Tough Guys

Obviously, I have no idea who in the US would benefit politically from a worsening situation in Pakistan. Unlike others, I won't even pretend to know. A different question is who deserves to benefit. That'd be whoever has the most sensible ideas about Pakistan. Who's that? Well, it seems to me that we desperately need to break away from the "trouble abroad, let's turn to hawkier hawks!" mode of organizing our politics. After all, there was a strategic choice undertaken by the United States of America during the year 2002 to refocus our attention away from Central Asia and the Pakistan/Afghanistan area and toward the Persian Gulf. That was, of course, the "tough," "strong," "serious" thing to do.

Then throughout 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2007 it's been the case that the "tough," "strong," "serious" thing to do is to maintain a massive strategic focus on Iraq in particular and the Persian Gulf in general. Vast quantities of troops, money, and attention lavished on the Gulf was Central Asia languishes. Only cowardly cowards like Brian Katulis though it was more import to focuson Pakistan. But of course when things go wrong in Pakistan, everyone's stomach lurches in a way that doesn't happen with problems in Iraq. In Pakistan, after all, you've got real nukes and more radicals -- trouble there is big-time trouble. But, presumably, there'll be a lull in the situation at that point. Maybe during that lull people can try to remember that these things are all linked together and that choosing toughseriousness is what led US policy in the region to fall into such a state of drift in the first place.

Presented by

Matthew Yglesias is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic.

A New York City Minute, Frozen in Time

This wildly inventive short film takes you on a whirling, spinning tour of the Big Apple

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

A New York City Minute, Frozen in Time

This short film takes you on a whirling tour of the Big Apple

Video

What Happened to the Milky Way?

Light pollution has taken away our ability to see the stars. Can we save the night sky?

Video

The Faces of #BlackLivesMatter

Scenes from a recent protest in New York City

Video

Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Life

The Supreme Court justice talks gender equality and marriage.

Video

The Pentagon's $1.5 Trillion Mistake

The F-35 fighter jet was supposed to do everything. Instead, it can barely do anything.

More in Politics

Just In