In the wake of the recent crisis in Pakistan, Iraq escalation architect Frederick Kagan of AEI and Brookings analyst Michael O’Hanlon penned a column yesterday urging the U.S. to weigh a military option in Pakistan to secure its nuclear stockpiles:
[T]he United States simply could not stand by as a nuclear-armed Pakistan descended into the abyss. … We need to think — now — about our feasible military options in Pakistan, should it really come to that. … Pakistan may be the next big test.
As the “intellectual architect” of the Iraq “surge,” Kagan (who also advocates war with Syria and Iran) was personally invited by the White House to help “hammer out” the escalation strategy last year. O’Hanlon has backed war with Iraq since 2002 and is a chief proponent of a long-term occupation of Iraq.
In the op-ed, they recommend the use of Special Forces to secure the nukes, or a “broader option” requiring “a sizable combat force.” “Somehow, American forces would have to team with Pakistanis to secure critical sites and possibly to move the material to a safer place,” they write. “Moderate Muslim nations” would join the U.S. in organizing a combat force in Pakistan.
The duo claims it is not “strategically prudent to withdraw our forces from an improving situation in Iraq” to implement these plans. But such a plan would eviscerate the “out of balance” U.S. military, according to Gen. George Casey. The National Security Network adds:
Kagan and O’Hanlon clearly have a hidden stash of U.S. soldiers. Even if you were sending “just” 40,000–50,000, our military could not sustain that operation without taking our troops out of Iraq.
O’Hanlon and Kagan’s strategy depends on cooperation from Pakistan and “moderate Muslim nations,” but such cooperation is unlikely as President Bush’s approval rating in Pakistan is currently at nine percent and at similar levels across the Muslim world.
The White House said in July that it would consider strikes against al Qaeda in Pakistan, which drew “a chorus of protests in Pakistan” and caused greater instability. No matter the consequences, the military option is always on the table for O’Hanlon and Kagan.