Monday, December 01, 2008

The South Asian Balancing Act

M.K. Bhadrakumar has an interesting contribution to World Politics Review; it is part of a larger section on the Asian triangle.

Whether or not you agree with Bhadrakumar's analysis, one cannot escape the sense that sooner or later choices have to be made and we have to be prepared to live with those consequences. It doesn't seem possible that we can find an approach that Pakistan, Iran, India, China, Russia, and the Europeans will all equally agree upon for Afghanistan.

I don't have a sense yet as to whether the Obama Administration will move to rehabilitate or contain Pakistan (or try to do both). I argued earlier that Obama may have to decide, depending on how talks go, whether or not to accept some sort of deal between Hamid Karzai and some parts of the Taliban. Bhadrakumar's article argues that India and Russia do not want such a settlement (in part because New Delhi and Moscow don't believe there is such a thing as "moderate Taliban"). How this plays out within Obama's "team of rivals" national security apparatus is also unclear. Bob Gates, for instance, has voiced some degree of support for the Karzai approach.

It was also interesting for me to read--and TWR readers may want to offer their own thoughts--the extent to which Bhadrakumar says the luster of the U.S.-India nuclear deal is already fading--the sense that it still doesn't open the "treasury" of advanced U.S. technologies to India. I assume that France and Russia will both be competing hard against the U.S. in this regard.

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