A Foreign Policy Test

A FOREIGN POLICY TEST….David Kay is off the reservation again. Apparently he’s not very impressed with the Bush administration’s reaction to the pardon of Abdul Qadeer Khan, Pakistan’s nuclear-proliferator-in-chief:

“I can’t think of any[one] who deserves less to be pardoned than A.Q. Khan…,” said David Kay, the former chief U.S. weapons hunter in Iraq.

In reality, according a “senior administration official,” our subdued reaction to Khan’s pardon is merely a measure of the nuanced and thoughtful approach to foreign policy that George Bush favors: “It’s just another case where you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar,” he said, apparently while keeping a straight face.

The whole article is worth reading, because beyond the snark it lays bare the divide between the “moral clarity” crowd and the foreign policy realists. The plain fact is that Pakistan is an enormously difficult country to deal with, and it really does require some nuance and subtlety.

But it’s a problem for the Andrew Sullivans and Glenn Reynolds of the world, who insist that good is good and evil is evil and anyone with any moral sense ? like, say, George Bush ? should refuse to compromise with evil. But here we have an Islamic country whose public is violently anti-U.S.; that has developed and tested nuclear weapons; that has traded nuclear technology with Iran, Libya, and North Korea; and that apparently continued to do so until only a few months ago. Surely if any country should be deemed a member of the Axis of Evil, it is Pakistan.

And yet, Pakistan has been an ally off and on for years. They were instrumental in helping our covert war against the Soviets in the 80s and have been helpful in our war against the Taliban since 9/11. Keeping them helpful is surely a strong imperative.

But if you truly believe that it’s the compromises of the past that have brought on the problems of today, if you truly believe that the only answer to 9/11 is to stop compromising with terrorist supporters, and if you truly believe that military force is the appropriate weapon for this fight ? then you should be appalled by the Bush administration’s coddling of Pakistan.

If you aren’t, then you’re a foreign policy realist. It’s a pretty simple test.

UPDATE: The New York Times has a nice story on this subject as well.