AND NOW IN THE REAL WORLD – AT 11:27 P.M. ET: Every now and then, it's important to remind ourselves why the stability of the Muslim world is so important to the United States. That world includes Egypt, Jordan, and Yemen, all of which are seeing serious on-the-street challenges to their political leadership. Even more critical may be Pakistan. From the Washington Post:
Pakistan's nuclear arsenal now totals more than 100 deployed weapons, a doubling of its stockpile over the past several years in one of the world's most unstable regions, according to estimates by nongovernment analysts.
The Pakistanis have significantly accelerated production of uranium and plutonium for bombs and developed new weapons to deliver them. After years of approximate weapons parity, experts said, Pakistan has now edged ahead of India, its nuclear-armed rival.
An escalation of the arms race in South Asia poses a dilemmafor the Obama administration, which has worked to improve its economic, political and defense ties with India while seeking to deepen its relationship with Pakistan as a crucial component of its Afghanistan war strategy.
In politically fragile Pakistan, the administration is caught between fears of proliferation or possible terrorist attempts to seize nuclear materials and Pakistani suspicions that the United States aims to control or limit its weapons program and favors India.
Those suspicions were on public display last week at the opening session of U.N. disarmament talks in Geneva, where Pakistani Ambassador Zamir Akram accused the United States and other major powers of "double standards and discrimination" for pushing a global treaty banning all future production of weapons-grade uranium and plutonium.
COMMENT: The fear is that Pakistan could fall under the control of Islamists. The instability we're seeing in the Mideast this week can influence Pakistan, where discontent runs high.
We're in a mess. We have a weak, vacillating president, a sick economy, a nation deeply in debt, and an ineffective foreign policy based on theories from college faculty lounges. Jimmah Carter is smiling. Ronald Reagan is not.
January 30, 2011