February 13, 2010
Asia Times

China Repudiates US's Strategy For Afghanistan

by M K Bhadrakumar

The international community has been led to believe that the India-Pakistan faultline is the pivotal concern in the US's diplomatic strategy in Afghanistan. However, it is a mere subplot. The US's principal protagonist is China, while India and Pakistan - and increasingly Russia - are more like jesters in forming the confusion and the humor in an Elizabethan drama.

The main plot is about the expansion of NATO into Central Asia. . . .

This is where the US's idea of reconciliation with the Taliban merits scrutiny. The idea is indeed eminently sensible at a time when Muslim anger is rising, there is growing disillusionment about Obama, and when the US is dangerously close to confronting Iran and a need arises to "split" Muslim opinion.

At the same time, the Taliban's reconciliation also makes realpolitik. The Afghan war costs a lot of money, it costs Western lives and it cannot be won. The Taliban's reconciliation is arguably the only option available to keep open-ended NATO's military presence in Central Asia without having to fight a futile war.

The ascendancy of malleable Islamist forces also has its uses for the US's containment strategy towards China (and Russia). Islamists lend themselves as a foreign policy instrument. The rise of Islamism in Afghanistan cannot but radicalize hot spots such as the North Caucasus, Kashmir and the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region in China.

China has the maximum to lose if a Taliban regime re-emerges. . . .

Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi . . . outlined the kind of Afghanistan that China wishes to see emerge out of the abyss. First and foremost, it has to be a peaceful and stable Afghanistan that "eradicates the threat of terrorism". Two, it should be an Afghanistan that accepts the "existence of diverse ethnic groups, religions and political affiliations and rises above their differences to achieve comprehensive and enduring national reconciliation".

The accent on pluralism is a virtual rejection of the fundamentalist ideology of Wahhabism practiced by the Pashtun-dominated Taliban. Three, Afghanistan should "enjoy inviolable sovereign independence, territorial integrity and national dignity. Its future and destiny should be determined and its state affairs run by its own people."

In essence, China expects a total and unconditional vacation of foreign occupation. Four, Yang highlighted repeatedly the centrality of regional powers in efforts to stabilize Afghanistan. . . .


Martin Jacques, "When China Rules the World: The End of the Western World and the Birth of a New Global Order," Penguin Press HC, The (November 12, 2009)

Richard Esposito, Matthew Cole, and Brian Ross, "President Obama's Secret: Only 100 al Qaeda Now in Afghanistan," ABC News, December 2, 2009

[With the United States striving hard to establish dialogue with the Taliban, Asia Times Online sources privy to the Pakistan military establishment reveal that the army has clearly spelled out that Washington must make sure any Indian involvement does not go beyond development work in Afghanistan and that Delhi plays no part in any overall strategy concerning Afghanistan.--Syed Saleem Shahzad, "Pakistan's military sets Afghan terms," Asia Times, February 9, 2010]

[Evidence now available from various sources, including recently declassified U.S. State Department documents, shows that the Taliban regime led by Mullah Mohammad Omar imposed strict isolation on Osama bin Laden after 1998 to prevent him from carrying out any plots against the United States. . . .

In Late January, Geoff Morrell, the spokesman for Defense Secretary Robert Gates, suggested that the United States could not negotiate with Mullah Omar, because he has "the blood of thousands of Americans on his hands," implying that he had knowingly allowed bin Laden's planning of the 9/11 attacks.--Gareth Porter, "Taliban Regime Pressed bin Laden on anti-US Terror," Inter Press Service, February 12, 2010]

"NATO launches major Afghanistan offensive," Reuters, February 12, 2010

Jonathan M. Finegold Catalan, "Nation Wrecking in Afghanistan," Reuters, March 17, 2010

[A phony war, on a fake battlefield, against a nonexistent enemy with a fictional victory.--Richard Greener, "Afghanistan: D-Day On St. Barts,", March 10, 2010]

[When China began its economic reform more than 30 years ago, the U.S. was the gold standard to aspire to. In the decade since 9/11, the U.S., by any measure, has found itself on a downward spiral with no prospect of reversal in sight.--George Koo, "Trajectories of China, US diverged after 9/11,", September 14, 2011]

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