Thursday, September 23, 2010

Who Lost India? Courtesy of Robert Kaplan

getting startedImage by amanky via Flickr
Robert Kaplan has been around for some time now and could be characterized as a "reasonable" neo-con. He supported, indeed promoted, the invasion of Iraq before he opposed the war.  He is all for intervention by the US against leaders like Saddam Hussein. Still.  Because he travelled to these oppressed countries and saw for himself the suffering of the population.  Now, in this paper he explains why, if the US deserts Afghanistan it is deserting India and because of the geography of the sub-continent and its history, India will be driven into the arms of China.

Although Kaplan does not explicitly state that the US should remain in Afghanistan, its pretty much there in the background.  He says that the US should not spend enormous amounts of money in Afghanistan specifically to impress India, but it must be part of the considerations regarding the Afghan strategy.

I find this whole line of reasoning to be somewhat STRATFOR-ESQ (one of the leading foreign policy analyst publications with a geo-political bent).  This is not a zero sum game among China the US and India. India is concerned about a Taliban takeover after the US leaves next summer. But so does Russia and China.  Pakistan might benefit as their security apparatus uses the Taliban to its own ends - but that particular relationship is pretty much soured - and provide them with a secure rear when facing India.  But that's not the point. India was not leaning toward China before the Afghan war despite Taliban control. It is unlikely to jump into the arms of the Chinese - a major competitor both economically and politically - after the US withdraws.

Therefore, Kaplan is just throwing up his straw-man of the "who lost India" genre in order to forestall the end day of US involvement with Kabul on a military basis.
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