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Thread: Afghanistan, US, China, India and Pakistan - A Genuine Interview

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    Senior Contributor anil's Avatar
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    About Afghanistan, US, China, India and Pakistan - A Genuine Interview

    For a change, here is one NO BULLSHIT interview about Afghanistan, US, China, India and Pakistan
    ------------------------



    Yossef Bodansky, former director of the United States Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare at the US House of Representatives, is an old South Asia hand, who had first warned of the Pakistan-China nexus in the 1990s.

    He was also the first analyst to warn the world about Osama bin Laden and the Islamist terrorist network. Bodansky, who has written extensively on India and interacted with senior Indian officials over the years, believes that India has failed to take the strategic initiative that the post-Cold War period opened up and hence has witnessed a failure of its Afghan policy among others. Bodansky has been the director of research at the International Strategic Studies Association (ISSA), as well as a senior editor for the Defense & Foreign Affairs group of publications, since 1983. He stayed on as a special adviser to Congress until January 2009. In the mid 1980s, he acted as a senior consultantfor the US department of defense and the department of state. He is the author of 11 books —including Bin Laden: TheMan Who Declared War on America (New York Times No.1 bestseller & Washington Post No.1 bestseller), The Secret History of the Iraq War (New York Times bestseller & Foreign Affairs Magazine bestseller), and Chechen Jihad: Al Qaeda’sTraining Ground and the Next Wave of Terror — and hundreds of articles, book chapters and Congressional reports. Mr Bodansky is a director at the Prague Society for International Cooperation, and serves on the Board of the Global Panel Foundation and several other institutions worldwide.
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    Q: How is India’s Afghanistan policy viewed in the West?

    A: New Delhi needs to see the bigger strategic picture. What New Delhi needs to understand is that the world is changing and is finally starting to re-assert itself in the post-Cold War period. The interim period is coming to an end and a lot of countries are trying to search out a future for themselves.

    India is trying to find a future through the BRICS but is failing to understand that the BRICS has strategic implications as well. Each BRICS member is seeking to find its geopolitical and geo-economic interests.

    India needs to understand where it stands and until it does that its regional activities are meaningless. These regional activities are not an end in themselves and cannot take place in isolation.

    BRICS nations are not equal; China and Russia are bigger. Russia has a clear place: it is part of the industrialised north world and one of the poles of the heartland states. China, on the other hand, is a land power that has been able to assert itself in Asia.

    Question is what is India? India is a huge subcontinent; it is the focal point of the Indian Ocean, and together with China, one of the two big powers of Asia.

    India has to decide first whether it is a continental power, a littoral power or a link between the two. India has to decide what role it wishes to play; nobody can assign India a role in global affairs. Thereafter, India needs to develop relations according to its chosen role. And India needs to initiate relationships depending on where it is going as a regional and a world power.

    For instance, India cannot allow the Indian Ocean to be dominated by another power. The commerce between the Far East, Europe and the Middle East is crucial. Hence, either India choses to secure these Indian Ocean routes as a maritime power or else someone else will. If that happens then the third party that secures the Indian Ocean would have a vested interest in containing India. But whether India wants to be the dominant maritime power in the India Ocean is a decision that can only be made by New Delhi.

    At the same time, India is also a land power with its northern part sticking into Central Asia. Now India also needs to decide what kind of role it wishes to play as a land power. India either has to make a deal with China on the latter’s terms or else it has to reach out to Russia or other powers to compete with China. There is no other alternative as China is the rising hegemon which is increasingly talking in terms of its historic empire that once ruled most of Asia.
    India and Israel are two countries that have civilisations with political character going back thousands of years or as long as China’s. India’s civilisation will not accept China’s civilizational hegemony.

    China knows this and that it cannot make a deal with India on its terms. Therefore, it seeks to stifle India and prevent it from rising. The troubles on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) serve to remind India who is the boss. To take on China, India would have to develop an assertive regional posture and challenge China and its regional alliances in Central and West Asia where the Chinese have a lot at stake. Russia is a potential ally but Russia will not do the job for India. India will benefit from co-operation with Russia which has an interest in containing China in West and Central Asia but much less interest in containing China in Leh and Srinagar.

    To repeat what I was saying since the early 1990’s, India must carve for itself a regional strategic role and assertive presence. Once the West needs India strategically and economically, it will pay attention to, and recognise, India’s regional interests and aspirations (such as Afghanistan). Presently, India is passive and reactive —so what’s the point paying attention or doing something for India? In contrast —China is holding the West hostage by its economic leverage and won’t let the West forget for a second, and Pakistan —China’s preeminent protégé and proxy —is threatening to blow-up anything and everything as the region’s madman —so why pick-up fight with the two?

    Q: Where does Afghanistan fit into this equation?

    A: India needs to look at Afghanistan in terms of its grand strategic vision. Pakistan is a small country; it is an army with a failed state. One reason why Pakistan survives is because of China’s investments in its nuclear capabilities and its economy both aimed at stifling India. China can constantly divert India’s attention by making Pakistan do something or other like border firing, infiltrating terrorists or carrying out a spectacular terrorist strike.

    India’s fixation on a zero sum game with Pakistan is meaningless. India needs to look at its policies with its western neighbours in terms of its grand strategy and not by being reactive. A lot of Indian activities in Afghanistan are aimed to give Pakistan a hard time. Nothing wrong with this —but strategically it is meaningless.

    On the other hand, if India can work out a larger posture in Central Asia, Iran and the Middle East, preferably in conjunction with Russia, and also dominate the Indian Ocean till the tip of Africa, then it would also have a say in what is happening to the west of Pakistan.

    The key question is: Will India be stifled by Pakistan, a subcontractor of China, which is the current situation, or will India stifle Pakistan at land and sea because India is the regional power that is stifling China and not just its agent Pakistan?

    It is high time that India starts thinking of where it is going as a global and not regional power or just another Third World country. Once it does that then its policies vis-à-vis Pakistan and Afghanistan should be adapted into its lager overall policy.

    Q: Does Washington accept Islamabad’s view that New Delhi is using Afghanistan to de-stabilise Pakistan?

    A: Yes. Obama’s Washington is even more hostile to New Delhi than Islamabad. Today, India is using Afghanistan to get at Pakistan. But that is not strategy; it is just another pissing match. It is irrelevant in global terms. From the US point of view, India’s insistence in being in Afghanistan interferes with its aims to hand over Afghanistan to Pakistan and China.

    Q: But why would the United States want to do this?

    A: Why not? If we make a deal with Pakistan, the Taliban will not shoot at our troops and we can leave peacefully. India, on the other hand, does not play a role as a global power so why should we take it seriously.

    Q: A number of US commentators in recent times have suggested that Pakistan’s obsession with Afghanistan can be resolved if the Kashmir issue is sorted out once and for all with India. Do you believe that a Kashmir “solution” will end Pakistan’s preoccupation with Afghanistan?

    A: Obama’s Washington wants Kashmir resolved in Pakistan’s favour —Afghanistan or no Afghanistan.
    India is so passive that the United States feels it can pressure India to make concessions in Kashmir so that the US can get a better deal with Pakistan. Kashmir should not be on the menu but it is. Large swathes of Siberian territory owned by Russia are claimed by China but the United States never dares to tell Russia to cede any territory to China so that the US gets a better economic deal with China. But the state department does think that India can be pressured to compromise on Kashmir and thereby secure a better deal for Washington with the Pakistanis. Such a thing would be inconceivable if India was a world power.

    When Pakistani terrorists attacked the India parliament, the United States told India that it dare not attack Pakistan. India has brought this upon itself by being passive. It is fighting for crumbs in Afghanistan.

    Q: Why has the US been reluctant to accept a greater Indian role in Afghanistan?

    A: We want China (that can help with Iran) and its proxy Pakistan.

    Q: Is the view that Washington is prepared to cut a deal with Pakistan and the Quetta Shura at any cost credible?

    A: Yes.

    Q: Despite being aware that Pakistan has directly or indirectly aided the insurgency in Afghanistan, Washington seems to be going out of its way to cede control of south and eastern Afghanistan to Pakistan. What precisely is the strategic thinking behind these moves? And do you believe that such a move will stabilise Afghanistan and Pakistan?

    A: This is what Pakistan wants and this is what will make China happy.

    Q: Do you believe that Washington will pull out all troops from Afghanistan by 2014 if the Bilateral Security Agreement with Kabul is not signed within the next few months?

    A: Obama wants Zero Troops. He’ll withdraw if he can whatever the excuse.

    Q: Would a small contingent of about 10,000 US troops and air force elements be able to stabilise Afghanistan with the help of the Afghan security forces post 2014?

    A: Well over 1,00,000 troops failed. So why should 10,000 have any impact? If any soldier remains —it will be a symbolic gesture.

    Q: The Pakistan government despite promising all help to President Karzai to re-start the peace process have decided not to release pro-talk Taliban leaders such as Mullah Baradar. They have released a total of about 26 low level Taliban and claim they have done their bit to facilitate talks. Do you believe that the Pakistani establishment will allow direct talks between the Taliban and the Kabul regime?

    A: Karzai is a nobody that everybody—including Obama’s Washington —knows by now. Who cares what Karzai was told or promised? Pakistan (the ISI) is building a regional network based on tribal and “Taliban” chiefs that will control most of Afghanistan. The ISI already does so for all intent and purpose.

    Q: India has helped Afghanistan with a number of developmental projects but has publicly espoused a “keep our heads down” policy in Afghanistan. Do you think this policy has worked?

    A: No. The Afghans are not masters of their own destiny. India’s efforts failed to convince the US that it has a legitimate role in Afghanistan. It has been a near total waste.
    Last edited by anil; 29 Sep 13, at 16:56.

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    It will be interesting to watch how shit hits the fan when the US completely pulls out from Afghanistan. How many Indian Consulates will be demolished? That's the question.

    Is Afghanistan Ready? by Shashi Tharoor - Project Syndicate

    Yeah, we all know Indians are there to help the Afghans. Right. Billions could've been used to buy food and medicine for the poor, instead, let's mess with the Pakistanis. Real smart "investment".
    Last edited by cdude; 30 Sep 13, at 17:31.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cdude View Post
    It will be interesting to watch how shit hits the fan when the US completely pulls out from Afghanistan. How many Indian Consulates will be demolished? That's the question.
    Ah dear friend, you back again. Its interesting to see you salivating at the thought...
    "Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?" ~ Epicurus

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    cdude, the pakistanis are nothing without US and chinese backing. The real problem for india is not fighting pakistan but a combination of these three countries.

    Regardless of perception, india's engagement in afghanistan was in fact limited to infrastructre and humanitarian needs in contrast to pakistan who is sending guns and militants. According to Yossef Bodansky, this is a "pissing match" irrelevant in global terms and a waste.

    Afghanistan is a landlocked country. India cannot do anything there due to geopolitical dynamics. Afghanistans future will be decided on US, china and pakistans terms.

    Yossef Bodansky has made it explicitly clear about the future course of events for afghanistan

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    Quote Originally Posted by antimony View Post
    Ah dear friend, you back again. Its interesting to see you salivating at the thought...
    Always attack the messenger. always

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    Quote Originally Posted by anil View Post
    cdude, the pakistanis are nothing without US and chinese backing. The real problem for india is not fighting pakistan but a combination of these three countries.

    Regardless of perception, india's engagement in afghanistan was in fact limited to infrastructre and humanitarian needs in contrast to pakistan who is sending guns and militants. According to Yossef Bodansky, this is a "pissing match" irrelevant in global terms and a waste.

    Afghanistan is a landlocked country. India cannot do anything there due to geopolitical dynamics. Afghanistans future will be decided on US, china and pakistans terms.

    Yossef Bodansky has made it explicitly clear about the future course of events for afghanistan
    And how will India win fighting against a combination of Pakistan/China/USA? Soviet Union tried.

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    Senior Contributor antimony's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cdude View Post
    And how will India win fighting against a combination of Pakistan/China/USA? Soviet Union tried.
    Why should it need to?
    "Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?" ~ Epicurus

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    Senior Contributor anil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cdude View Post
    And how will India win fighting against a combination of Pakistan/China/USA? Soviet Union tried.
    It can't. India will get out of the way.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cdude View Post
    And how will India win fighting against a combination of Pakistan/China/USA? Soviet Union tried.
    You're joking. The only member of that pact that mattered was the US. Pakistan and China were scared shitless.

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    Quote Originally Posted by anil View Post
    cdude, the pakistanis are nothing without US and chinese backing. The real problem for india is not fighting pakistan but a combination of these three countries.

    Regardless of perception, india's engagement in afghanistan was in fact limited to infrastructre and humanitarian needs in contrast to pakistan who is sending guns and militants. According to Yossef Bodansky, this is a "pissing match" irrelevant in global terms and a waste.

    Afghanistan is a landlocked country. India cannot do anything there due to geopolitical dynamics. Afghanistans future will be decided on US, china and pakistans terms.

    Yossef Bodansky has made it explicitly clear about the future course of events for afghanistan

    And yet India buys billions in US military hardware from them. How do you define that little problem?

    http://www.cnn.com/2011/11/02/us/ind...ent/index.html

    They also have spent billions with Russia.
    Last edited by Dreadnought; 30 Sep 13, at 20:53.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dreadnought View Post
    And yet India buys billions in US military hardware from them. How do you define that little problem?

    http://www.cnn.com/2011/11/02/us/ind...ent/index.html

    They also have spent billions with Russia.
    One thing has nothing to do with the other. The Russians and Chinese don't always see eye-to-eye with each other. Yet the Chinese have bought all manner of military hardware from them over the years. They would buy it from the US too if you guys were willing to sell.

    India needs decent military hardware for its forces and will buy it from whoever is willing to sell. It has no connection to the ground realities in Afghanistan and US aims there, which Bodansky seems to have captured pretty well, although I don't agree with everything that he says in there.

    A shout-out to Captain Lemontree. Captain, this is what I meant when I talked about India's interests in Afghanistan being completely different from those of the US in another thread.
    Last edited by Firestorm; 30 Sep 13, at 21:12.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cdude View Post
    Always attack the messenger. always
    Not the messenger, the aspirant
    "Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?" ~ Epicurus

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    Quote Originally Posted by anil View Post
    It can't. India will get out of the way.
    None of your strategic planners saw this coming on their drawing board? I wonder what they were thinking when they decided it's a good idea to throw billions of dollars into Afghanistan.

    Indians can do a lot of things, printing dollars is not one of them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Officer of Engineers View Post
    You're joking. The only member of that pact that mattered was the US. Pakistan and China were scared shitless.
    I think you have to define "scared shitless". Moving your strategic assets away from the frontline is not "scared shitless", it's being smart.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cdude View Post
    Indians can do a lot of things, printing dollars is not one of them.
    So you are tacitly saying that China can print out dollars?

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