Hey, let’s buy Pakistan’s nukes

posted at 7:28 pm on December 16, 2008 by Allahpundit

A useful piece by Bret Stephens, not because of its central argument but because of the vivid details it supplies that undermine its central argument, especially as potentially applied to Iran:

Every visitor to Pakistan has seen them: 20-foot tall roadside replicas of a remote mountain where, a decade ago, Pakistan conducted its first overt nuclear tests. This is what the country’s leaders — military, secular, Islamist — consider their greatest achievement…

A.Q. Khan, father of Pakistan’s nuclear program (and midwife to a few others), likes to point out what a feat it was that a country “where we can’t even make a bicycle chain” could succeed at such an immense technological task. He exaggerates somewhat: Pakistan got its bomb largely through a combination of industrial theft, systematic violation of Western export controls, and a blueprint of a weapon courtesy of Beijing…

But if Pakistanis thought a bomb would be a net national asset, they miscalculated. Yes, Islamabad gained parity with its adversaries in New Delhi, gained prestige in the Muslim world, and gained a day of national pride, celebrated every May 28.

The theory is that Pakistan, straining under a huge financial crunch, would be willing to sell us disarmament and democracy in exchange for, say, $100 billion and a promise to bring them under the U.S. nuclear umbrella. Laying aside the unlikelihood of Americans supporting a nuke attack on New Delhi to defend Islamabad, does anyone seriously think Pakistan would make a deal given what Stephens says about the centrality of nukes to the country’s national pride (“their greatest achievement”)? The Islamic Bomb, auctioned off to the west in a fire sale to prop up the economy at a moment when tensions with India are sky high? I can’t imagine how secular rule in Pakistan would survive that. But it’s worth thinking about anyway since this is, after all, kinda sorta what Obama’s Iran policy boils down to — hoping against hope that the bottom falls out of oil prices, leaving the mullahs so hard up for cash that they’re willing to buckle on their nuclear program even though they’ve followed the same nationalistic cultural blueprint Islamabad has, declaring holidays to celebrate technological advances and fetishizing their capabilities as a source of parity with the west. It’s all about pride and humiliation, and the more pride they invest in the bomb, the more unthinkable and destabilizing the humiliation would be if they were forced to cave. Which is why they can’t, and won’t.


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Rats, I thought I might be the first to comment!

On the topic of buying Pakistan’s nukes:

Let’s not and say we did!

Joe Pyne on December 16, 2008 at 7:34 PM

Nah, we should just buy China’s manufacturing capability, so we could make our own goods. Or maybe we could buy China’s banks so we could loan ourself money.

muyoso on December 16, 2008 at 7:37 PM

Perhaps we could show them how to print more money if they are in financial difficulty. Surely they would trade that knowledge for their nukes.

a capella on December 16, 2008 at 7:43 PM

While Ed’s right, in that ignoring humility and the way it colors our relations with the arab world is foolhardy…I dont know if it would be the prevailing circumstance, its a consideration to be sure, but the idea of a “monetarily encouraged” pakistani disarmament isnt all that far out. If anything, many, many different scenarios must be drawn out and analyzed…there is no way one clear cut answer to that situation that we can just bark out at this stage.

ernesto on December 16, 2008 at 7:44 PM

Nah, we should just buy China’s manufacturing capability, so we could make our own goods. Or maybe we could buy China’s banks so we could loan ourself money.

muyoso on December 16, 2008 at 7:37 PM

One of our banks has already bought one of China’s banks; with the bail out money.

Johan Klaus on December 16, 2008 at 7:50 PM

Oh ya,thats a brilliant idea!

I can just hear the Puck-istans talking about this!

Hey,Abbydabby,the Americans have bought up are nukes,
allah something akbar and be praised,dig the other nukes
up and see of Chevez want to buy some nukes!!(Sarc!)

canopfor on December 16, 2008 at 7:50 PM

While Ed’s right, in that ignoring humility and the way it colors our relations with the arab world is foolhardy…I dont know if it would be the prevailing circumstance, its a consideration to be sure, but the idea of a “monetarily encouraged” pakistani disarmament isnt all that far out. If anything, many, many different scenarios must be drawn out and analyzed…there is no way one clear cut answer to that situation that we can just bark out at this stage.

ernesto on December 16, 2008 at 7:44 PM

If a mugger faced you with a gun, and you offered to buy it from him, do you think he’d take the deal?

Oversimplified, but I think many of the same dynamics apply.

TheUnrepentantGeek on December 16, 2008 at 7:57 PM

Maybe Obama will bomb Pakistan as he said he
would,and maybe,he can Ka-Bluey the nukes at
the same time!

What do you mean,radiation fallout,now don’t
be silly,with Hopey/Changey every airstrike
will be very delicate,like an amaculate* bombing
conception so to speak,the explosion would contain
itself!!———————–(Snark!)

*(canopfor deeply regrets the religious phrase
amaculate conception,and will be dealt with!)haha:)

canopfor on December 16, 2008 at 8:02 PM

…let’s cut out the middleman and buy direct from China…cheaper….

Puritan1648 on December 16, 2008 at 8:09 PM

I am sure that Mr. Obama, President Elect, the Office of has this tactic, in one form or another, already on the table as his main foreign policy strategy………….

………….. it’s the Chicago way, “Pay to Play”!

Seven Percent Solution on December 16, 2008 at 8:15 PM

………its the Chicago way,”Pay to Play”!

Seven Percent Solution in Dec 16,2008 at 8:15PM.

Seven Percent Solution: “Pay to Play”!

And PRICELESS!!!!!!!!!!!!haha:)

canopfor on December 16, 2008 at 8:24 PM

Muslims are among the least clever of the worlds monkeys and rather lazy to boot. As some one here noted before, it would be interesting to see the Inshallah maintenance program for Allah’s nukes.

BL@KBIRD on December 16, 2008 at 8:26 PM

But will this cash poor country be willing to sell some of their arsenal to Iran or some other non-friendly country? They wouldn’t have to sell all of them; one would be enough.

DAT60A3 on December 16, 2008 at 8:39 PM

Perhaps America already has Paki nukes in storage but just doesn’t know it yet.

BL@KBIRD on December 16, 2008 at 8:49 PM

TheUnrepentantGeek on December 16, 2008 at 7:57 PM

In this case national governments in very very weak positions cant be compared to anything nearing a mugger. The most important circumstance surrounding the “dealing with pakistan” problem is their current position, economically and stability wise. This is what ultimately determines what they’ll do. If they really are weak enough there are about 20 drafts im sure the state and defense departments already have on file that outline exactly what we’ll be offering, and under what terms. Sure, our leadership may balk and pursue some other scheme, or Pakistan may just implode before we do anything and our hand could get forced…but it pays to consider options like that.

ernesto on December 16, 2008 at 8:54 PM

Buy them under the table.

TexasDan on December 16, 2008 at 8:55 PM

Pakistan’s nukes are important to their security perceived or real. I doubt they are for sale even if they have fallen on hard times. Making an offer could even backfire as other countries with more cash than the US start bidding for them.

Also, their nukes serve a useful purpose to us… it allows them to shift their own military to work in the NW frontier where they can combat militants instead of shoring up the long border with India.

lexhamfox on December 16, 2008 at 9:12 PM

There’s no way in hell this would ever happen.

CP on December 16, 2008 at 9:18 PM

Hope the bottom falls out of oil prices?

How, by refusing to drill for oil in this country?

Does this guy think through anything at all? Or is he just winging it?

When is Alan Funt going to appear and assure us that it’s all a joke and that an actual President is going to appear, instead of Barack O’Clownact?

NoDonkey on December 16, 2008 at 10:29 PM

Pakistan would never sell its nukes at any price. It is too much of a matter of national pride and patriotism for that country.

firepilot on December 16, 2008 at 11:01 PM

There’s no way in hell this would ever happen.

CP on December 16, 2008 at 9:18 PM

……… and there is no corruption, graft or greed in Chicago.

Seven Percent Solution on December 17, 2008 at 2:29 AM

A.Q.to “Car” Dealer: Why are you not selling any cars? Go sell some to that Castro want-a-be.

Dealer: These car’s are a piece of crap. You know how poor quality bombs cars our workers were building back in the 90′s? I bet only 1 in 10 of these things will go off. Even Mr. Ego down in Caracas won’t buy them.

Dealer to Sales Guy on Lot: Look, Akmed, I know the old cars won’t start, but that sucker uncle Sam dosn’t know that. And where do you think we would get the money to buy new bombs cars?

Akmed: Why bother actually doing the work distributing the bombs and all that? Making the bombs is a waste of good hukka time. Can’t we get some of that TARP money Sam is handing out to everybody else who wasted all their money?

– What makes our bomb factory workers any different than UAW workers?

Dealer: We can speak and read English – at a 9th grade level!

Unquiet on December 17, 2008 at 7:48 AM

The Black Caesar will jump all over this. He doesn’t care one bit about spending taxpayer’s money so why not do it? The MSM will be on his side and will proclaim that Obama stablilized a region that has been at each other’s throats for hundreds of years.

I better lay off this Black Caesar moniker. He may truly be the Messiah and I am in deep if that is the case.

grdred944 on December 17, 2008 at 11:12 AM

Yup, your analysis is spot-on, AP.

PersonalLiberty on December 17, 2008 at 8:08 PM