Longtime JWN readers will know I’m a fan of the analysis that a blogger called China Hand produces on Pakistan and Afghanistan. (He doesn’t, as it happens produce much on China. Go figure.)
Anyway, today CH has a well-worth-reading (though not short) post in which he deconstructs and tries to assess the policy toward the Pakistan and Afghan Taleban that he sees the Islamabad government as most likely pursuing.
Bottom line, at the end:
- if we let Afghanistan go down the tubes, as the deep thinkers in Pakistan are proposing, there’s no assurance that the Taliban can be rolled back in Pakistan.
Perhaps this problem has become too big for the United States and Pakistan to solve on their own. And, since Washington and Islamabad apparently disagree on the definition of the problem, let alone the outlines of a solution, it looks like nothing but years of bloody muddle lie ahead.
I humbly submit, however, that there is another option, in addition to leaving the US and Pakistan to handle the whole Af-Pak/Taleban problem “on their own.” This would be for Washington to invite the UN Security Council to convene a broad and authoritative new conference, including, certainly, all Afghanistan’s neighbors, all the P-5 powers, and anyone else the Secretary-General considers worth inviting, and have that gathering take responsibility for real Afghan peacemaking away from the US and NATO.
The US and NATO seem almost uniquely ill-suited to the challenges in Afghanistan! I can’t imagine why anyone thinks these western armies could do anything to achieve stability in Afghanistan– at a price that’s affordable by their increasingly cash-strapped treasuries, or at all.
Sure, China and Russia might both be very wary of assuming any additional responsibilities in a place as intractable as Afghanistan. But it is, after all, far closer to them than it is to any NATO members; and the restoration of a decent degree of stability to Afghanistan and Pakistan is actually much stronger an interest for them than it is for the distant NATO members.
Of course I can quite understand, from a realpolitik POV, that China and Russia might both be extremely happy to see the US and its NATO allies continuing to degrade their forces and their treasuries by trying to hurl their militaries against the brick wall in Afghanistan. But at some point that has to be counter-productive for them.