The US and the Taliban

This interview with an American journalist, Lara Logan, who has been reporting on Afghanistan for nearly 2 decades now and has been on the ground, is worth watching.

It is nearly an hour long but I would request people to take some timeout and watch it in full. It is indispensable if you want to get a sense of what has happened in Afghanistan.

There are a few important takeaways from this, as I see it.

First and the most important, the US was actively working towards the creation of the outcome that we see today. That it wanted to leave Afghanistan was already made known by the US a few years back. But the interesting and befuddling aspect is that the US was negotiating its exit plan with the Taliban while keeping the Afghan Govt. out of it. India was also kept out of it while China, Russia and Pakistan were part of it.

It looks pretty certain therefore that the US establishment had already decided that once it leaves, it will hand over the power in Afghanistan to Taliban and leave the Ashraf Ghani Govt. in the cold. So things have likely gone as per the script.

The second important takeaway is how much compromised the US Govt. policy, especially its foreign policy is. I have no idea if Trump was a compromised leader but he was certainly confrontational and ruffled quite a few feathers including that of China. On the other hand, Biden has been much more accommodating towards China. Biden, as stated in the interview,  is just an expendable figurehead and a fall guy who gets to take all the blame and shame. It was also evident by the way Biden was selected as the Presidential candidate and then how he won the Presidential election, despite his old age and clearly evident lack of competence for the job, that there were powerful forces working behind the scenes who were deeply interested in Biden getting the top job.

One thing that had me scratching my head while watching an otherwise brilliant interview was when Lara described how influential the Pakistani lobby is in Washington and the Pentagon and how it was mainly responsible in making the US do the things it did in Afghanistan. I find it a little hard to believe for two reasons.

1. Pakistan’s main problem in Afghanistan was India and not the US. Clearly, if Pak was so influential with the US, why did it not lobby and get India out of Afghanistan or atleast diminish its influence. One might say, getting the US out of Afghanistan was the only way to get India out as well but it looks a very long winded way to get your thing.

2. Is it really possible that the Pakistani lobby is so powerful that it could dictate US foreign policy in Afghanistan ? Wouldn’t that be extraordinary ? Why not look for what is more obvious ?

What about the elephant in the room, China ? As Lara agrees, China would be the single most happy country with exit of the US. The rise of China has come about through a strong backing by the US and the interests of the US corporates and the CCP are likely to be aligned together since decades. Nothing can beat the US corporate lobby in Washington. Can it ? Pakistan is a Chinese lackey. It would do so as directed by China. Therefore, while Pakistan may have played its role in handling the Taliban, its role is unlikely to be more than that of a facilitator. The real player pulling the strings could be China and maybe Russia.

China has now a free hand in Central Asia and Afghanistan. It has unrivalled amount of money to through around and buy allegiances everywhere for its BRI project. Besides Pakistan, China had a 400 billion $ deal with Iran recently. And now the Taliban also seems very welcoming towards China.

The question for us Indians is – what has India been doing in all of this ? And did India have a plan all along or does it have any right now ? The US has certainly shown itself to be a very unreliable ally. That is an important lesson I hope New Delhi does not forget.

 

39 thoughts on “The US and the Taliban

  1. “The question for us Indians is – what has India been doing in all of this ? And did India have a plan all along or does it have any right now ? The US has certainly shown itself to be a very unreliable ally. That is an important lesson I hope New Delhi does not forget.”

    India has spent something like 4B in over 20 years across multiple adminstration. This is a small amount overall considering how much India has spent in Nepal or Sri Lanka and still got a hostile government. And overall it pales in comparison how much other western powers have lost in Afghanistan.

    The eventuality of all this going to dust was always on the table, considering India was always unwilling to put troops on the ground to secure its investment. Thats a political call India made, to always remain under the umbrealla of US forces.

    Finally on US unreliable-ness, the US didnt force India to invest in Afghanistan. Both India and US did what they did on their own national intrest. If US is such an unreliable ally (which i think its not, and it has shown that in recent Chinese conflict) then India should go back to Russia, and see how that pans out.

    1. Are you an Indian or an American ? Why are you trying to be more loyal than the king ? When the Americans themselves are saying that they betrayed their allies what’s your problem ? As an Indian why should stating a harsh fact about the US cause you offence ?

      US is certainly unreliable. A good relationship with the US will benefit India to grow economically and geopolitically. However if at critical junctures it goes on to abandon you, it is certainly not a great thing. Why did the US negotiate with the Taliban and not the democratic govt in Kabul ? And why did it negotiate with Pakistan, China and Russia but leave out India till the end ? You find such behaviour from an ally acceptable ? You want India to be US’ doormat ?

      And how exactly did the US help in the recent China skirmish ? By sending its navy in the SCS ? But then it is also in the US interest, isn’t it ?

      The point that you are not getting is that in Afghanistan, the US did not act as per its own interests as a nation, but in the interests of some vested players, principal among them being China. And they did not bother about India or even the democratic govt of Afghanistan which they themselves established. It is this kind of behaviour which makes the US unreliable.

      On the other hand, the US will expect all sorts of compliance from India as an ally. They will try to dictate to you how you should manage your relations with Iran, Russia and China and other nations.

      Obviously we are in a bind. Russia is not powerful enough on its own and it has closely allied with China. We certainly cannot go there. No one is so juvenile or stupid to suggest that we should downgrade our relations with the US. But when the US behaves the way it did in Afghanistan, it should ring alarm bells. From now on, we should speed up the process of self-reliance.

      1. Where did i take offence?

        All your questions regarding Afghanistan has been answered in various places. The same questions India has of US, can be asked by Americans 2 Indias as well. That if India is US ally, y didnt it send troops 2 Afghanistan to help out against Taliban (when it mattered).

        In the whole India-US relationship, the US has not asked us for bases or stationed troops like it has done with other countries. So yeah, could things get better? Perhaps. But lets not pretend that we are being used as a doormat. We are absolutely doing everything which we ourself want, and i dont see us doing something which is only in US’s interest.

        And on self-reliance , the less said the better..

  2. About putting Indian troops in Afghanistan, the Afghan military was about 300,000 strong. How many troops you recon India could have sent in Afghanistan to secure its interests ? Can you tell me how it would have worked out ?

    The Afghans already had a large army and we did help in their training and equipment. If you watch the interview, Lara Logan does say that the Afghan army is well trained but that the US just did not let them function and allow them to do what they were trained to. What could have India done ? Can you explain ?

    1. Well the western allies of US did deploy forces regardless, no? Did India ever offer even? No. Then why does India want the same degree of ally-ship from US, when it itself does not want to be seen as proper ally of US. What would have been better , India deploying its forces to secure its investments or depending on US to secure its investements in Afghanistan?

      If u ask me personally, India shouldn;t have commited to Afghanistan at all after 2001. We had already been burnt once by backing Northen Alliance in the 90s and we should have known where our limits lie. Even know, after all this, there are still folks who say we should throw good money after bad money in Afghanistan by keeping our consulate open, talking to Taliban etc.

    2. I’ve read that the 300k number was only on paper, and that it was really a phantom army; about 50k strong. Numbers were inflated so certain people could make money. (No idea how true this is but I’ve seen it in several articles and Twitter threads.)

    1. What do you suggest we take our cue from ? Al Jazeera and TRT ?

      This is not about Fox News in particular. It’s about the ground reality as stated by a journalist who has spent years reporting on US in Afghanistan. If you think you know better can you point out what she got wrong ?

      1. Her sweeping statements are not about facts There are precious few of those in the interview. She throws about her opinions led on by Tucker.

  3. Pakistan is America’s leverage against an eventual Indian domination in the South Asian sphere. People need to process this and digest this.

    The Far East is stitched up – Japan/South Korea are the leading economies/powers and are in the US camp.

    The Middle East is in the bag – Israel and Saudi Arabia will ensure that American writ runs large there.

    Oceania has Australia – a Five Eyes Partner.

    The Eurasian landmass is thus surrounded by American bases. Gaping holes are the centre (Russia) and both sides of the Himalayas (China and India). Pakistan is the only willing American partner in this whole zone. As a fulcrum with access to the Himalayas, they offer a good landing zone to the trijunction – (Russia, China, India). Therefore any deficiencies in character are overlooked.

    India will remain its own voice – inspite of extensive trade links with the US. It also repeatedly asserts this by going against the grain (S400 purchase). Some Indians (wet behind the ears) who wait endlessly on the greencard-hamster-wheel run shit commentary about perceived milk-and-honey benefits.

    Other things to memorise before going to bed –

    Ashraf Ghani is an American
    Taliban is an American creation
    Pakistan is an American enterprise

  4. By trying to join the Western military and political bloc, India finds itself alone in the region. Chahbahar is a dud and Iran has migrated towards China. China is also cultivating Nepal, Bangladesh and Srilanka. Indian relations with Pakistan are at an all time low. All investment in Afghanistan is lost due to poor foresight, and they have now kicked out all Indian influence. And despite Indian appeals (wishes?) the US and EU are not going to sanction or even punish Pakistan for its role in Afghanistan. This is just a massive failure of Indian foreign policy and people directing it in the last few years need to be fired because they are incompetent. The Indian elite seems to have drunk the Western cool aid and internalized Western civilizational superiority. They need to understand that the sun is now rising from the east like it always has.

    1. Are you proposing an alliance with China? I mean what exactly can India do in this situation. Give up land to China? No one is willing to do that…
      China is just stronger. It does not want India to rival it in anyway. That was a remote possibility to begin with but is now assuredly so with the gap widening. Pakistan is never going to ally with India. They will continue all proxy wars. Kashmir issue won’t be settled. India is pretty much going to always have geopolitical issues with China and Pak. The Indian economy is not as strong as China’s so they cannot offer these big loans and infrastructure projects to woo others.

      India is basically stuck. China would treat India no better if India were not trying to ally with the west. If anything, maybe even worse, if India were seen as totally isolated. India gains nothing by not allying with the West and maybe gains a little by doing so.

      It all simply comes down to economics. China is richer and more powerful by a long shot. America will only intercede on its own interests. India is screwed. But India allying with the West makes it so that on the off chance interests do align, maybe something positive can happen.

      My argument is basically that China will try to fuck over India no matter what. Pak will reap rewards of this and fully support it. India doesn’t really lose anything by allying with the West. Maybe it can gain marginally. Allying with China will bring a lot of nothing other than lost territorial and economic sovereignty.

      Pak has always been friends with China because China wants to keep India in check no matter what. Pak was friends with USA because of Afghanistan and India-Soviet relations. Pak is just in a beneficial position 2/2 to geography. It is not some genius super power picking they are doing.

      In the end, it is all about money. China used authoritarianism right and became richer. There were a lot of sacrifices but that’s the end result. The wealth has brought more power and ability to buy geopolitical clout. India needs to buy time and improve it’s economy. That’s focus #1. China, USA… it’s all the same

      1. India should have mended its relations with China and resolved border disputes like Pakistan did. There is no history of animosity between the two regions, so there is no historical baggage that could have weighed on relations. However a defeat in 1962 flared up egos and rest is history. Now the Indian elite is trying to drag the country towards the US and I predict it will be disastrous for them.

        The US is a superpower that is isolationist by nature, because of their geography. This shows even in their half hearted imperial projects, because unlike the Brits and the French who considered their civilization much superior and wanted to force impose it on the rest of the world, the Americans on the other hand simply do not give a Fk. They are a rich country than can be entirely self sufficient, they don’t need anyone else. So even business relationships they enter are not out of necessity for them and are going to heavily skew in their own favor. They will screwing you over. Accept that? Well and good. Don’t accept that? They don’t care, they got enough money they don’t need you or anyone. They are a superpower in decline, but end of the century they will still be a superpower, but one that does not care about the rest of the world.

        So becoming the only ally of a far away power that doesn’t care, and provoking the local neighborhood bully is just bad strategy.

        1. Dont know what has been more disastorous, China pushing an always iffy India towards US, and opening up another front in the west, which is relatively weak compared to their base regions in the East.

          India has only got upsides of being an ally of US. It gets all the goodies without being part of any of its wars. And only thing it has to take care of is to maintain their land-front and Indian ocean. Which India would have done regardless, but now has help. Its not as if India would have been distant from US, Indo-China relationship would have improved, or China not meddled in S-Asia.

          I see China getting stronger and resultant alliance against it getting tighter. Which would just extend the stalemate going fwd, and finally it will depend on who blinks first.

          1. We will see.. the ‘geo’ in geopolitics is much more important than the politics. When it was a matter between choosing the US or the Soviets, both were far away so one could be choosy. But rebuffing a neighboring superpower? That’s much more risky especially when your allied superpower is on the other side of the globe and prone to outbursts of quitting.

    2. The whole Central Asian zone is a dud. The Russians know this, and now the Amercians. Soon the Chinese will too. I agree that Chabahar is mostly a dud, and since the Chinese (and not the Indians) are the biggest investor in Chabahar, they will soon find out. There is a silver lining that India;s investement in Afghanistan was cut off, before India was roped in into all those fancy TAPI and other bullshit projects which would have even bigger resource sink than what India had already invested.

      I dont think foresight was a issue with Afghanistan. India always knew the day would come, and frankly if u are not ready to deploy ur own resources to secure ur resources, u are praying and depending on a 3rd party. It was a political call, rather than a bureaucratic one.

      1. No one could have helped the cowardly Afghans who surrendered without a fight.

        What are the ‘resources’ ?

        Nawaz Sharif + Jindal could have dug out the iron ore. That was the closest India ever came to making some money. Pakistani Army being the retards they are, unnecessarily sabotaged it. Rest was anyways aid.

        https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/explained-indias-afghan-investment-7406795/

        The parliament was the only unreasonable (can be debated as concrete outlasts regimes) expense, Salma dam (which btw India repaired not built) brought and will bring good publicity, maybe same can be said for Zaranj-Delaram road, and the hospital and power grid would be useful for a long-long time. It was not like India set up a toll booth on Z-D road or made a profit from the hospital.

        Knowing the desperation and poverty in India I will never agree with pretentiously throwing money.

        1. Exactly. India investment is something like 4B over 20 years. Which is small change considering what US and its allies have spent. And if Pakistan has to be belived , 4B was not all in vain. Kept them occupied for the best part of 20 years in their other border.

          We have spend more in Nepal and still have an unfreindly regime there. Hell we lost people in Sri Lanka, and made an enemy of both tamils (no surprise there) and Lankans.

    3. \By trying to join the Western military and political bloc,\

      Quad is neither a military or a political block. It’s intention is to keep the sea lanes as per international law , that is all.
      It is the result of alarm by many countries with the Chinese claiming all south China sea and building military bases on land reclaimed from sea hundreds of miles from their shores. In the background of China’s other military, political and other moves such a response to China makes sense. It does not tie India’s hands in anyway, even joining Belt and Road, or any amount of trade with China or even reaching a border agreement with China

  5. Frankly. I am not sure why people are upset Pak is becoming a Chinese colony. That’s not even an insult. Pak has been run terribly. And China won’t take more land from it because they want a buffer state that is friendly and already have a radical islam problem. China will only run Pak better than Pak leaders can. Pak only stands to gain by being colony

    Anyway, social agenda for India needs to be

    1. CAA
    2. UCC
    3. Continue Kashmir integration process
    4. Population control bills
    5. Mass literacy and proper restroom access

    Economy
    1. Privatize- sell of big state companies
    2. Modernize farming
    3. Modernize labor laws
    4. Continue heavy infrastructure push, especially at border zones

  6. Kishore Mahbubani said recently that India chose the wrong side in the last Cold War and is in danger of repeating that mistake in the emerging one. Now, he’s been very pro-China for a while (many would call him a shill for the CCP), but it’d be wise to think about what he’s saying nonetheless.

    I would love it if we could have a rapproachement with China, as there’s no escaping them with the long border we share. But I don’t see that happening unless and until China goes into a period of weakness where the leadership is willing to compromise. Perhaps if they get into a semi-hot war with the US over Taiwan!

    Longer term, there’s no escaping our predicament without building social capital, getting richer and stronger. But that requires economic wisdom of the kind that’s sorely lacking in the corridors of power.

    1. “many would call him a shill for the CCP”

      That would be an understatement of the century, the asian century….

      But then in a country which houses communist parties who are essentially shills of CCP against their own country, its not a surprise.

    2. \Kishore Mahbubani said recently that India chose the wrong side in the last Cold War \
      I am no sure of that now, even though I thought Nonalignment is wishy washy. India got diplomatic cover from USSR at the right time.

      I am rethinking of Nehru’s Nonalignment policy and viewing it more positively now

      By being Nonaligned, India lost nothing

      His economic policies are a different matter. Economic stagnation was India’s worst failure during and after Nehru

      1. “By being Nonaligned, India lost nothing”

        India also, gained nothing. We lost out on prospective growth which Pakistan availed till Zia years, while fighting non of the wars. Just like Japan and S-Korea enjoyed under American umbrella. We lost a war to China, while the only reason Pakistan could get UNs Kashmir resoloution, and a fighting chance in 65 war was due to US equipment.

        India required diplomatic cover from USSR, because it was in USSR intrest to thrwart America, not becuase we were non-alligned. Plus when it did not suit USSR, as in Indo-China war, we all saw how much ‘cover’ USSR gave us. The one time USSR helped us was in Indo-Bangladesh war , where of course we were alligned, and not non – alligned, thru a pact.

  7. The whole reason for US being in Afghanistan was to siphon off US tax payer money. A huge portion of the 2.2 Trillion spent.
    Sold to US taxpayer as Nation Building, Womens Rights the works.
    Just some 2500+ US combat deaths much much less than in Vietnam (47,000). Too many deaths and the US public would be against the war.

    Exit: Because the defeat and encirclement by Taliban was inevitable. The easy gravy train was over.

    The American public got scammed big time.

  8. I was looking for alternate viewpoints on this Afghanistan tamasha away from the MSM and BP hasn’t disappointed – good to see folks engaging in some serious discussion.

    “The question for us Indians is – what has India been doing in all of this ? And did India have a plan all along or does it have any right now?”

    Lol, I would be surprised if India has been anything more than a peripheral player in Afghanistan – and thankfully so as it’s just a resource sink as history has proved time and time again. Whatever aid and investment India did put in (admittedly non-trivial but not a large sum of money for a large nation) has ensured a level of goodwill in the minds of ordinary Afghans above and beyond the popularity of our pop culture. And for that its money well spent. I think Pakistan (and China, or any other country that fancies itself a major power and wants a piece of the action) will struggle to get any geo-strategic gains from that place, its just more trouble than it’s worth.

    Here’s the real mystery – I’m surprised by the number of thinkpieces and experts who think that the recent events are a ‘crushing/humiliating loss’ for India – pray tell me why? If anything, they represent a distraction (or worse) for our rivals. And like I said above, we got out without much of a $$$ hit.

    My major take-aways –
    1) One would hope that this is a wake up call to Indian strategic thinkers (are there actually any worth their salt?) to abandon the west (I don’t mean the occident) and look and act east (esp south-east) beyond naming catchy sounding policies on paper. That’s where the economic action is and people who I feel are more like us at a civilisational (apologies for throwing this word around) level.

    2) S Asian countries shouldn’t play power games, at least in the immediate neighbourhood – it’s too expensive, there are too many unintended consequences and the risks are too high. After years of having to house millions of refugees and tackle domestic terror, drone strikes, etc. it seems Pak still hasn’t learnt this. But in the short term they do stand to gain some of the weapons and hardware left over by the Americans, the rest will probably end up on the international black market.

    3) A bit of me can’t help but feel tat the US got it’s just desserts – it had no business to be embroiled in wars all over the world, callously ruining lives of poor brown (hehe) folk in the name of ‘nation building’. One of the first events of international significance that I remember was the US invasion of Afg post 9/11 (I remember staying up all night watching news reports of bombs falling upon Kabul) so things have come full circle rather neatly the way I look at it. And one would hope that that this would mean less American prestige and ‘democracy in danger’ type lectures from them – but one can only hope.

    4) The Afghans themselves are the real losers from this – or more specifically the 0.01% of them who fancy a life of anything more than goat-herding in the mountains. These people should be given access to get out and rebuild their lives elsewhere (including India, though I’m sure that given a choice they’d rather go west to Europe). For the rest, who probably prefer to live as per some form of sharia – my congratulations on their ‘liberation’. Hope they get a less corrupt government, theocratic or not.

    And finally – where next for the Western military-industrial lobby?

    1. \For the rest, who probably prefer to live as per some form of sharia – my congratulations on their ‘liberation’.\
      This is what pakistani taliban is hoping for to bring to Pakistan. Even pakistani elite is hoping for it – see Imran Khan and other pak elite gloating. Hope Pakistani’s dreams come sooner than later.
      best of luck to pakistani taliban now that their brothers in arms are in power across the border

    2. good points; though how ‘South Asians should not do power games’ can come to pass
      About US , it’s anti-terror war sounds hollow now. Even it’s other international positions regarding Russia or China sound less than credible
      After the end of Cold War, when USSR dissolved and Liberalism seemed to be winner and best guarantee of prosperity and human rights , lot of goodwill was built by the US, it’s slogans and system. that all lie in tatters now

      A power which can throw it’s friends and protege under the bus and make deals with enemies is untrustworthy. Of course India has seen this over many decades , i.e US sided with military powers over democracy, even while lecturing India about democracy, rights, etc

    3. If 9/11 was the first significant international event you remember, you are probably too young to remember what was happening in the 90s, starting with the Kashmir insurgency and ending in Kargil and the Kandahar hijacking. We were persistently targeted by militants groups and terrorists, in Kashmir mostly but elsewhere too. Americans woke up to terrorism on 9/11, but that didn’t leave as much of an impact on me, so inured was I to the notion of terrorist attacks (btw….I have memories of terrorism in Punjab too, before Kashmir flared up.) In the early part of the 90s, terrorist acts seemed depressingly frequent. And a significant numbers of these terrorists were Afghan mujahideen, trained and dispatched by the ISI.

      So why do we think the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan is a disaster for us? Because it takes us back to the 90s, at least for those of us who are 40 or older. We don’t want to go back to those times, but Pakistan and their proteges in the West may decide to resurrect their old playbooks.

      1. Not wanting to go to 90s is obvious.

        We had 15+ years of peace and we have bought 36 Rafales, even Egypt bought more. People who don’t sweat in peace time get blown up in local trains or shot in Taj Hotel by ‘freedom fighters’. Indians are that fat-sheepish people, we are just not serious. Our preparation is to get Abhinandan shot down in Mig-21 again and declare victory because our Sukhois ‘survived’, cry loudly that they used American missiles or lie that the Israeli-patakha landed on their target.

        Laaton ke bhoot baton se nai maante, blow up Muridke. Indians and Chinese use talks to waste more time on Kashmir/Aksai-Chin and enforce fait-accompli. Pakistanis use it to ensure Indians don’t counter attack after being hurt and angry. Don’t talk, we have the bigger stick, use it. Atomize and depopulate Neelum valley. 1000 dead in a winning war is better than 1000 dead in LeT freedom-fighter’s bombing.

        Good thing is Modi knows this.

        1. In a war of attrition, the person who remains standing is the winner. The person who fights with one finger and eats an ice cream with the other hand is a champion.

          From the 90s till now, what has changed on the ground in Kashmir? Nothing. In fact, India is better off after having dissolved Art.370 without any international oppobrium. Yes, we lost somewhere close to 40k troops and 60k civilians (annual losses of 3000 persons for 30 years).

          Rest of India also saw intermittent bombings with some high profile attacks on the city of Mumbai. But what did they do to change anything? We have maintained defence spending at 1.5% to 2.0% all through these 30 years – without losing any territory. While we were doing that, we did other insane stuff.

          – We have become a legit nuclear triad holder. Legit – meaning any sins are forgotten with the Indo-US Agreement. Pakistan did not get any such waiver.

          – Today just the mcap of Infosys exceeds that of the total Karachi stock exchange

          – We have rebuilt from complete colonial destruction – full ecosystems of manufacturing in automobiles, textiles, industrial machinery, pharma, IT and chemicals.

          People don’t realise this – the Indian way of fighting and conducting foreign policy is unrivalled for long term impact. Not going to war is great forbearance. If the next 30 years are going to be like the last 30 years, then we are going to have a great time!

      2. I do remember IC 814 and Kargil, I just thought of them as more local rather than international events. And having grown up in Mumbai, I do remember rather vividly the spate of attacks on trains and buses in the early 2000’s.

        I do see where you’re coming from re: increased chances of terror attacks on Indian soil, and to that I’d add the possibility of small arms from Afg left over by the US making their way to local terror groups or increased drug trafficking from the Afg opium growers – these are risks to all countries in the neighbourhood. I would argue that these could be mitigated if India deals with the Taliban tactfully and makes peace, and if the Taliban live up to their promise of not acting as Pak lackeys – lots of if’s and could’s here, hope the intel agencies are keeping a close eye on things.

  9. The US has certainly shown itself to be a very unreliable ally. That is an important lesson I hope New Delhi does not forget.

    This reads like something from the 50s, 70s, 80s, 90s. Only the 60s and 2000s partially would one get to claim US didn’t sabotage India in strategic terms.
    Be it sanctions, denial to high tech & space tech, diplomatic choking (Iran-Indian relations is a direct consequences of India capitulating to US pressure and Pakistan backing).

    US is a Hegemon. That means by definition it can not and Will NOT allow a peer hegemon in any region let alone the world.

    What makes Indians think US is doing India a favor, at any point, let alone now.

    The absolute matter of fact is, US and the West prefers India to be in the state it is currently now, perpetually, i.e. stagnant but not failed and always trailing a rival entity like China so that there is natural tension which can be exploited and no chances of alignment (like has happened with Russia-China, which is a major strategic problem for the West/US). This stage of affairs keeps pressure on India to tie up with West against Insert_Vector.

    Meaning, US doesn’t want Indian development, esp of the sort from Asian Tigers/China.

    On the other hand of all the rivals it is China which is more atuned to wanting India develop because it understands what Power does to relationships in Asia. A India which is 5 times smaller than China is not just bad for India it is bad for China because India feels inferior and inadequate in itself and that then is projected in India-China relations and thus on the global stage. This is bad for China, esp when it is embroiled in a once few-centuries global-stage Hegemon Contest. So it is in Chinese interest to see India develop, it doesn’t mean China wants India to be same size or bigger than China but there is monumental difference between being 5 times bigger and being 1.5 times bigger.

    Both India and China can live with that level of differential and both would natural balance each other without need for outsiders. Like so happened from 80s to mid 2000s where both were in relative parity. It was in the 2000s where China just sped past India and this was not China’s fault.

    India-China relations today is the way it is because of India in fundamental terms. For totally failing to keep pace with China in economic terms.

  10. The interview is polemical. India has lost 3 or 4 billion dollars at best, nothing else. And there is no need to worry about future outcomes.
    Indian investments were always contingent on American presence. They made a bad bet and lost. But it is not money down the drain. It helped and continues to help Afghanistan, and that help is visible and will remain in Afghan memory.
    Now Pakistan and China are stuck with the Afghan problem. The Taliban could do nothing for Pakistan as far as Kashmir is concerned between 1994 and 2001. That will not change now with the Taliban return.
    Pakistan is in trouble. It has to support those wild men across the Durand line or get China to do it. If China can manage to do that good luck to them. No harm in China wasting its money there; something the Chinese hate doing. After pouring it down the Pakistan drain they now have a new sink in Afghanistan.
    Pakistanis had better watch out. If they support Shariah and an Islamic Emirate as their neighbour they can scarcely deny the same sort of dispensation to their own Islamic groups and their enthused citizens.
    There is little chance of Pakistan, even with Taliban assistance, crossing the border with India or the LoC, unless they want an open war. Pakistan will get squeezed, not Afghanistan.

  11. Feom 2009 a must read

    As much as Washington may live in perpetual denial, Russia and Iran together control roughly 20% of the world’s oil reserves and nearly 50% of its gas reserves. Think about that for a moment. It’s little wonder that, for the leadership of both countries as well as China’s, the idea of Asian integration, of the Grid, is sacrosanct.

    Afghanistan, as it happens, sits conveniently at the crossroads of any new Silk Road linking the Caucasus to western China, and four nuclear powers (China, Russia, Pakistan, and India) lurk in the vicinity. “Losing” Afghanistan and its key network of U.S. military bases would, from the Pentagon’s point of view, be a disaster, and though it may be a secondary matter in the New Great Game of the moment, it’s worth remembering that the country itself is a lot more than the towering mountains of the Hindu Kush and immense deserts: it’s believed to be rich in unexplored deposits of natural gas, petroleum, coal, copper, chrome, talc, barites, sulfur, lead, zinc, and iron ore, as well as precious and semiprecious stones.

    TAPI’s roller-coaster history actually begins in the mid-1990s, the Clinton era, when the Taliban were dined (but not wined) by the California-based energy company Unocal and the Clinton machine. In 1995, Unocal first came up with the pipeline idea, even then a product of Washington’s fatal urge to bypass both Iran and Russia. Next, Unocal talked to the Turkmenbashi, then to the Taliban, and so launched a classic New Great Game gambit that has yet to end

    https://tomdispatch.com/pepe-escobar-pipelineistan-goes-af-pak/

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