excerpts from what i wrote; will post the full article as soon as it is published.
[category India, Afghanistan, US, Pakistan]
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
The root cause of the problem in Afghanistan, unlike in Iraq, is simple: the Americans are laboring
mightily to ignore the elephant in the living room, Pakistan's agenda. It is as clear as daylight to the
casual observer that Pakistan has no interest whatsoever in bringing stability to Afghanistan, in
preventing the Taliban from coming back to power there, or in capturing Osama bin Laden and other
Al-Qaeda operatives: and these are the alleged reasons why the Americans are in Afghanistan.
There is the possibility that, given the deadline of 18 months that Obama has outlined for the exit, there
will be a headlong and ignominious retreat from Kabul. I remember the photographs from Saigon in
1975 with the last helicopters taking off from the American embassy with people attempting
desperately hanging on. Vietnam scarred America's soul, but Communism did not win, and the Domino
Theory 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 gain
sustenance from the American defeat there, there will be no respite: they will keep on attacking, as they
are 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 at
their disposal. The near-default of sovereign debt in Dubai shows that the petro-dollars may well be
ephemeral, and that they had better strike when the iron is hot.