Thursday, July 22, 2010


Why can’t India and China, which have vast, well equipped militaries, cultures more similar han ours, and are actually in the region, be involved in establishing a viable, tollerant and democratic Afghan state? Why are we and NATO – two powers way outside the region and with extremely different systems and cultures, doing it?

I know the usual answers, we started it, we’ve got to finish it, or lose our credibility. The next answer, we don’t want to give India and China the opportunity to flex their muscles and build their credibility as international powers. We’re #1, the world’s only super power and we want to stay #1. Sounds good to some, especially the people in charge, but to these folks I ask: given the state of our own economy and the many un-met needs of our own people, does this approach make sense and is it sustainable?

Both India and China have the necessary resources and because they have fought two wars against each other in the past, might benefit from an opportunity to cooperate. They also have a serious interest in pacifying and containing Afghanistan’s extremists, before these extremists inflame their own extremists. In fact, most legitimate governments in the region, indeed, most legitimate governments period, have an interest in containing extremists and terrorists.

Couldn’t our diplomacy and subsequent military involvement be oriented to this ‘new’ strategy of involving the two biggest powers in the region? They have much more to gain than we do. The logistics would be less expensive and easier to implement. There are vague cultural and class similarities, at least more similar than the West’s. For all these reasons, India and China’s involvement might bring a better chance of success and if that’s what we’re really after, success – building a viable, tollerant and democratic Afghan state, as we say we are, and not staying the world’s #1 super power, as we don’t say, but probably the real goal, then common sense suggests we involve India and China. Involve, not hand it off to them, but involve them. We have a lot to gain by involving them, and probably less to lose than we fear.

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