obama af-pak strategy 2.0

December 2, 2009

this is a small excerpt from what i wrote. the full article will be posted when it is published.
Obama’s Af-Pak speech: America will declare victory and leave soon
Rajeev Srinivasan concludes the winners are China and Pakistan; India loses again
There is no doubt the US President Barack Obama had a difficult task to perform in making his long-awaited
Afghanistan speech on Tuesday. There has been a clamor of different voices urging him to take
every position from digging in for the long term all the way to an immediate withdrawal, and the only
option Obama really had was to take a median position that would certainly disappoint large sections of
his voters.
In a sense, the speech turned out to be a bit of a damp squib: it must be extremely unsatisfying to
officer cadets at West Point to be told that their nation was effectively in a war it could not win. And
that the only thing to do was to find a face-saving exit. Besides, it really didn’t say anything new other
than the laying out of a time-frame for the exit. It was common knowledge all along that the Obama Af-
Pak plan was simple: “surge, bribe, declare victory and run like hell”.
There is the possibility that, given the deadline of 18 months that Obama has outlined for the exit, therewill be a headlong and ignominious retreat from Kabul. I remember the photographs from Saigon in1975 with the last helicopters taking off from the American embassy with people attemptingdesperately hanging on. Vietnam scarred America’s soul, but Communism did not win, and the DominoTheory turned out to be wrong: communists are susceptible to the charms of the market.
The Afghan game is altogether different: it may crush America’s soul altogether. If the jihadis gainsustenance from the American defeat there, there will be no respite: they will keep on attacking, as theyare not easily distracted from their goal of global dominance, which they believe is within their grasp.Indeed they may be right, because there is a short window of opportunity when vast petro-dollars are attheir disposal. The near-default of sovereign debt in Dubai shows that the petro-dollars may well beephemeral, and that they had better strike when the iron is hot.
… more

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