Three Points of View: The United States, Pakistan and India

Discussion in 'Defence & Strategic Issues' started by ajtr, Apr 28, 2010.

  1. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    Three Points of View: The United States, Pakistan and India


    In recent weeks, STRATFOR has explored how the U.S. government has been seeing its interests in the Middle East and South Asia shift. When it comes down to it, the United States is interested in stability at the highest level - a sort of cold equilibrium among the region's major players that prevents any one of them, or a coalition of them - from overpowering the others and projecting power outward.

    One of al Qaeda's goals when it attacked the United States in 2001 was bringing about exactly what the United States most wants to avoid. The group hoped to provoke Washington into blundering into the region, enraging populations living under what al Qaeda saw as Western puppet regimes to the extent that they would rise up and unite into a single, continent-spanning Islamic power. The United States so blundered, but the people did not so rise. A transcontinental Islamic caliphate simply was never realistic, no matter how bad the U.S. provocation.

    Subsequent military campaigns have since gutted al Qaeda's ability to plot extraregional attacks. Al Qaeda's franchises remain dangerous, but the core group is not particularly threatening beyond its hideouts in the Afghan-Pakistani border region.

    As for the region, nine years of war have left it much disrupted. When the United States launched its military at the region, there were three balances of power that kept the place stable (or at least self-contained) from the American point of view. All these balances are now faltering. We have already addressed the Iran-Iraq balance of power, which was completely destroyed following the American invasion in 2003. We will address the Israeli-Arab balance of power in the future. This week, we shall dive into the region's third balance, one that closely borders what will soon be the single largest contingent of U.S. military forces overseas: the Indo-Pakistani balance of power.

    Pakistan and the Evolution of U.S. Strategy in Afghanistan

    U.S. strategy in Afghanistan has changed dramatically since 2001. The war began in the early morning hours - Pakistan time - after the Sept. 11 attacks. Then-U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell called up then-Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf to inform him that he would be assisting the United States against al Qaeda, and if necessary, the Taliban. The key word there is "inform." The White House had already spoken with - and obtained buy-in from - the leaders of Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, Israel and, most notably, India. Musharraf was not given a choice in the matter. It was made clear that if he refused assistance, the Americans would consider Pakistan part of the problem rather than part of the solution - all with the blessings of the international community.

    Islamabad was terrified - and with good reason; comply or refuse, the demise of Pakistan was an all-too-real potential outcome. The geography of Pakistan is extremely hostile. It is a desert country. What rain the country benefits from falls in the northern Indo-Pakistani border region, where the Himalayas wring moisture out of the monsoons. Those rains form the five rivers of the Greater Indus Valley, and irrigation works from those rivers turn dry areas green.

    Accordingly, Pakistan is geographically and geopolitically doomed to perpetual struggle with poverty, instability and authoritarianism. This is because irrigated agriculture is far more expensive and labor-intensive than rain-fed agriculture. Irrigation drains the Indus' tributaries such that the river is not navigable above Hyderabad, near the coast - drastically raising transport costs and inhibiting economic development. Reasonably well-watered mountains in the northwest guarantee an ethnically distinct population in those regions (the Pashtun), a resilient people prone to resisting the political power of the Punjabis in the Indus Basin. This, combined with the overpowering Indian military, results in a country with remarkably few options for generating capital even as it has remarkably high capital demands.

    Islamabad's one means of acquiring breathing room has involved co-opting the Pashtun population living in the mountainous northwestern periphery of the country. Governments before Musharraf had used Islamism to forge a common identity for these people, which not only included them as part of the Pakistani state (and so reduced their likelihood of rebellion) but also employed many of them as tools of foreign and military policy. Indeed, managing relationships with these disparate and peripheral ethnic populations allowed Pakistan to stabilize its own peripheral territory and to become the dominant outside power in Afghanistan as the Taliban (trained and equipped by Pakistan) took power after the Soviet withdrawal.

    Thus, the Americans were ordering the Pakistanis on Sept. 12, 2001, to throw out the one strategy that allowed Pakistan to function. Pakistan complied not just out of fears of the Americans, but also out of fears of a potentially devastating U.S.-Indian alignment against Pakistan over the issue of Islamist terrorism in the wake of the Kashmiri militant attacks on the Indian parliament that almost led India and Pakistan to war in mid-2002. The Musharraf government hence complied, but only as much as it dared, given its own delicate position.

    From the Pakistani point of view, things went downhill from there. Musharraf faced mounting opposition to his relationship with the Americans from the Pakistani public at large, from the army and intelligence staff who had forged relations with the militants and, of course, from the militants themselves. Pakistan's halfhearted assistance to the Americans meant militants of all stripes - Afghan, Pakistani, Arab and others - were able to seek succor on the Pakistani side of the border, and then launch attacks against U.S. forces on the Afghan side of the border. The result was even more intense American political pressure on Pakistan to police its own militants and foreign militants seeking shelter there. Meanwhile, what assistance Pakistan did provide to the Americans led to the rise of a new batch of homegrown militants - the Pakistani Taliban - who sought to wreck the U.S.-Pakistani relationship by bringing down the government in Islamabad.

    The Indian Perspective

    The period between the Soviet collapse and the rise of the Taliban - the 1990s - saw India at a historical ebb in the power balance with Pakistan. The American reaction to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks changed all that. The U.S. military had eliminated Pakistan's proxy government in Afghanistan, and ongoing American pressure was buckling the support structures that allowed Pakistan to function. So long as matters continued on this trajectory, New Delhi saw itself on track for a historically unprecedented dominance of the subcontinent.

    But the American commitment to Afghanistan is not without its limits, and American pressure was not sustainable.
    At its heart, Afghanistan is a landlocked knot of arid mountains without the sort of sheltered, arable geography that is likely to give rise to a stable - much less economically viable - state. Any military reality that the Americans imposed would last only so long as U.S. forces remained in the country.

    The alternative now being pursued is the current effort at Vietnamization of the conflict as a means of facilitating a full U.S. withdrawal. In order to keep the country from returning to the sort of anarchy that gave rise to al Qaeda, the United States needed a local power to oversee matters in Afghanistan. The only viable alternative - though the Americans had been berating it for years - was Pakistan.

    If U.S. and Pakistan interests could be aligned, matters could fall into place rather quickly - and so they did once Islamabad realized the breadth and dangerous implications of its domestic insurgency. The five-year, $7.5 billion U.S. aid package to Pakistan approved in 2009 not only helped secure the arrangement, it likely reflects it. An unprecedented counterinsurgency and counterterrorism campaign conducted by the Pakistani military continues in the country's tribal belt. While it has not focused on all the individuals and entities Washington might like, it has created real pressure on the Pakistani side of the border that has facilitated efforts on the Afghan side. For example, Islamabad has found a dramatic increase in American unmanned aerial vehicle strikes tolerable because at least some of those strikes are hitting Pakistani Taliban targets, as opposed to Afghan Taliban targets. The message is that certain rules cannot be broken without consequences.

    Ultimately, with long experience bleeding the Soviets in Afghanistan, the United States was inherently wary of becoming involved in Afghanistan. In recent years, it has become all too clear how distant the prospect of a stable Afghanistan is. A tribal-ethnic balance of power overseen by Pakistan is another matter entirely, however. The great irony is that such a success could make the region look remarkably like it did on Sept. 10, 2001.

    This would represent a reversal of India's recent fortunes. In 10 years, India has gone from a historic low in the power balance with Pakistan to a historic high, watching U.S. support for Pakistan shift to pressure on Islamabad to do the kinds of things (if not the precise actions) India had long clamored for.

    But now, U.S. and Pakistani interests not only appear aligned again, the two countries appear to be laying groundwork for the incorporation of elements of the Taliban into the Afghan state. The Indians are concerned that with American underwriting, the Pakistanis not only may be about to re-emerge as a major check on Indian ambitions, but in a form eerily familiar to the sort of state-militant partnership that so effectively limited Indian power in the past. They are right. The Indians also are concerned that Pakistani promises to the Americans about what sort of behavior militants in Afghanistan will be allowed to engage in will not sufficiently limit the militants' activities - and in any event will do little to nothing to address the Kashmiri militant issue. Here, too, the Indians are probably right. The Americans want to leave - and if the price of departure is leaving behind an emboldened Pakistan supporting a militant structure that can target India, the Americans seem fine with making India pay that price.

    STRATFOR's global team of intelligence professionals provides an audience of decision-makers and sophisticated news consumers in the U.S. and around the world with unique insights into political, economic, and military developments. The company uses human intelligence and other sources combined with powerful analysis based on geopolitics to produce penetrating explanations of world events. This independent, non-ideological content enables users not only to better understand international events, but also to reduce risks and identify opportunities in every region of the globe.
     
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  3. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    Above quote reminds me what ASHLEY J. TELLIS said immediately After mumbai terror attack in outlook article Lessons From Mumbai


    This all resulted due to the soft paddling of the various indian govts. on terror issue and again india is going to be soft sponge that protects west from terrorists and west/the Americans seem fine with making India pay that price.
     
  4. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    I quote with thanks to brahaspati at BR

    "The stability and security of India depends on holding two key sectors:
    (1) the northern Himalayan river plains arc - the one reaching from Gujarat and Sindh in the west through the Punjab, into UP to Bihar and Bengal.
    (2) the southern coastal sea-board on both sides of the peninsula.

    The northen arc is a key flow pipe for trade and productivity of resources and whoever holds both mouths of this pipe - the Bengal Delta and Sindh-Saurashtra - holds the main driving engine of the north. This arc is vulnerable at only one place and that is the north-west Gandhara direction. Similarly, whoever holds the coastal south holds the key to coastal sea trade, and holding key vantage points prevents vulnerability from maritime invasions.

    Current India has lost control on both the mouths of the northern pipe. It has also lost control over the access point from Gandhara. It only has its southern sea-board. Thus in the four point geo-strategic vantages, India has lost three key northern ones required to protect itself from continuous attempts by looters with little or no civilizational qualms.

    Whenever India lost control of one or more of these northern entry points, it found it difficult to resist coordinated attacks from ideologically self-justifying looters - like the Islamist Turko Afghans or the Brits. The looting ideology of such groups can sustain itself over longer periods than common looters like the pre-Islamic Mongols or the Huns, and are also destructive for Indian society because the sole purpose of these cultures are to destroy other civilizations. What they themselves cannot enjoy or understand they will destroy.

    It is natural that both these cultures (not necessearily formally governments) find themselves allies (yes in spite of the deceptive and strange conflict between them in Afghanistan) essentially against anything concerning India. The USA will bargain over the body of India with China and Pakistan purely for tactical and strategic reasons - almost in a commercial mode transaction. But the underlying drivers of British policy will do this bargaining with the Pakistan and China, with a sadistic relish because of added ideological underpinnings and historical revenge.

    As long as Britian survives as a power with disproprtionate share of world domination compared to its real contribution in economic terms, it will protect the Islamist ideology and therefore by connection, the Jihadi core against India. If war comes to India, it will not be because of USA abandoning its positions in ME - for USA usually quickly cuts its losses when it realizes the long term infeasibility of any of its power projections - but because sections within British foreign policy drivers, decide to take the chance or they see the chance. It will be done skillfully under cover of a formal American withdrawal so that formally the Brits do not look responsible. The Americans typically appear to me to be fools compared to the Brits where subtle national; level manipulations are concerned. The British steamy affair with all sorts of Islamists, including the ones from the source peninsula and the ongoing appeasement of Islamists in the Isles point to a deep running mindset that somehow Americans seems to miss. I think they should read Lawrence again and again and again - and even the infamous allusion to certain ahem ahem acts. That gentleman provides a lot of insight unintentionally, in his book as to how and what motivates the Isle Anglo-Saxon policy makers.

    I would have been quite wary of taking the Brit offer of assistance against "terror" in the ME adventures - if I were American. But naturally the Americans fell for it. It was also politically seen perhaps as a necessary step to keep the EU divided and therefore on-board. The Brits offered to help in exactly all those countries and regions where they had once led a merry dance with their secret services attempting social engineering and political infiltration.

    Since the Brits are involved in the AFG campaign, we may find increasing evidence of accurate counter-strikes by the Islamists on NATO supply columns and an eventual withdrawal of the western armies. These sort of stuff are pretty good indicators of bi-directional penetration between radical organizations and national secret services.

    Looking at it from the British secret service viewpoint, and especially if they subsrcibe to the racist muck of British imperialism, they have successfully managed to get USA commit resources, get destroyed in men and materials, and weakened in political and military terms as afar as Asian presence goes. The British have always shown this imperial ego in absolutely hating those on whom they are forced to lean on for resources and talent - it happened with Indians and it is probably happening since WWII with the Americans. Added to that the nurderous hatred of ex-colonies that revolted.

    Once USA withdraws the remaining target will be India.

    So I believe that in the long run a proxy war will be unavoidable. India cannot take aggressive steps here on the main actors behind the scenes, and it is not prudent to do so. India can only prepare to face a war and even a nuclear war in which India is attacked with nukes should not be out of vision. It should better prepare Indians as to how to mobilize in case of such disasters. It shoudl also prepare them psychologically that borders are temporary compromises. Losing territory temporarily does not mean the death of the nation, neither should they expect the current borders to be permanent. Those borders could expand. It is a fluid concept of contraction and expansion.

    I have my own arguments as to why any such secret provocation and encouragement to the Pakistan to move against India will eventually mean the destruction of the western "friend" of India.


    I still think the "west" and India can be friends, even politically and militarily. The problem is that historical baggage of racial and colour based constructs encouraged by the western elite - from both religious as well as political background, prevents growth of mutual respect which must come before any actual long lasting friendship.

    On a more tangible commercial and "opportunities" angle, the western elite must understand that by letting India expand in both east and west on the subcontinent, they actually profit. The tremendous commercial instincts of India and its innovative approach in science or technology, will provide a massive engine of growth that can absorb the costs of transforming a deeply scarred Jihadi society that wests' short term policies created in Paki Occupied Areas.

    Moreover, India as friend of the Anglo Saxons provide the right infiltrations that can ensure continued "friendliness". This can ensure, long term secured access to CAR through roads and trasnportation networks built by India after expansion. Moreover, an economically strong India helps to keep prices down for the west against China.

    And finally, at a single stroke, global Jihad's main distribution centre is no more - removing huge costs for the west.

    Will the right people listen! Dun'kno! But there is a wee bit of chance that some of the Americans - more than the Brits - start thinking. Their commercial instincts are less clouded by ideology - especially of race.

    The western elite see India as a problem to their long term economic interest. That is the reason the Greater India (Afg+Pak+India+Nepal+Myanmar+SriLanka+Tibet+...) was broken up between 1900-1950. They built up PRC to counter Sardar Patels India.
    Add ME also into this conglomerate and that is a super economy which will dominate the world in the future.

    The axis is still the same. It is the Nordic-Germanic filtered as to adventure and openness over time and migration. From their known historical origin (could be remnant of earlier migrations from CAR after getting out of India), in north Europe around the Roman period - we see stages of expansion and immigration as well as colonization.

    The features of "national" behaviour we see can be well explained on this crude but effective hypothesis - that immigration usually pushes out the more adventurous and exploratory or open-minded segment of a population. So the sections that colonized the British Isles were more "open" compared to those they left behind in the frozen north. Those that immigrated and colonized America from the Isles were more "open" than those they left nehind in the Isles. This progressive increase in a kind of distillation process for "openness" should not be equated with increasing "liberal" attitudes. But it is more in terms of greater flexibility in strategic and tactical approach to attain whatever objectives they have in their horizon.

    The Americans have succeeded where the Brits have failed, because of this flexibility, But their openness also makes them "fools" a bit compared to the Brit old hands. The British policymakers still cannot get out of their imperialist "golden age" straightjackets and does its utmost to score for its perceived historical "losses" and retreats. British anger at USA comes from the first serious kick in the backside because of the American revolution. British anger at continental Europe comes because Europe destroyed its empire in WWII. British anger at USA increased because they had to take US help to survive in WWII. British anger at India comes from daring to go out of the empire. British core policy is still mangled up in this "empire" hangover and its covert operations and diplomacy are partly still twisted by this anachronistic drive. This does not mean that they do not gain short term victories. But over the long run they are dragging down all those allied with them for historical, racial or religious reasons. USA is still suffering from its Brit connection. Financial troubles, unwise foreign wars, drugs - especially the opium/heroin trade, all of these could be areas where this connection has burdened the USA.

    It is time the USA "drivers" seated deep inside their setup begin to rethink whether they have not been led into one trap after another in the Middle -East and they need to explore Saudi Arab links to the British establishment. They also will benefit in the long run if they rethink their alliances - and show some flexibility from their British inheritance of racial profiling."
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2010
  5. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    I Quote with thanks to atri at BR

    "In modern times, the 7 basins which are marked in map below marks the centre of gravity for India.

    [​IMG]

    1 - Red - Indus Basin
    2 - Red - Ganga basin
    3 - Yellow - Krishna-Godavari Basin (I think they should always be considered together because people, rulers, and market of this region behaves in similar way with respect to Indo-Gangetic basin and Kaveri basin)
    4 - Blue - Narmada-Tapti Basin
    5 - Blue - Mahanadi Basin
    6 - Blue - Kaveri Basin
    7 - Black - Airavati Basin

    It is impossible for the people from basin 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 to progress alone without being bothered by people from basin 1 (Indus valley) and without taking care of basin 7 (Irawati valley). With time (in not so distant future), people from basin 1 and 7 will have to be persuaded (forcefully or peacefully) to join in.

    The people from Basin 3 overlook the affairs of people from basin 2 and basin 6. The influence of rulers and market of this region spills over to aforementioned basins time and again. During most of the times, basin 4 and Basin 5 play secondary role to the interaction of basin 2 and basin 3.

    Basin 6 is comparatively secluded from the affairs of basins 1,2,3,4,5 and thus has acted as perfect incubation facility for sustained growth (of market and produce). Furthermore, substantial parts of basin 6 are blessed with rains for 8 months, thus making Kaveri valley as one of the most fertile regions of India.

    Basin 7 has to be taken into consideration as it acts as a sole gate-way to India for another rising power in Asia, China.

    The political unification of these 7 river-basins from source till mouth of the major river and their tributaries is the key towards stable India and world. This entire region of all these rivers is needed to be brought back into the fold of Indian civilization, so that even in case of political disintegration, India will stay..""
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2010

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