The Politics of Washington Have Wrecked Afghanistan's Future

The Politics of Washington Have Wrecked Afghanistan's Future by Arif Rafiq - The National Interest

President Donald Trump rang in the new year with a Twitter salvo directed at Pakistan, claiming that Washington has given Islamabad more than $33 billion in aid after 9/11, but has only received “lies and deceit” in return. The administration has since announced the suspension of military assistance to Pakistan. An unnamed State Department official has described the suspension as reversible should the Pakistani military take desired action against the Haqqani Network.

The Trump administration appears to be moving toward a strategy of compellence toward Pakistan. It may be nonviolent right now, but could include lethal covert action, both visible (e.g. drone attacks) and less visible, and yield a series of unintended consequences that push the bilateral relationship beyond the point of no return.

The asymmetries of the U.S.-Pakistan relationship may drive some in Washington to believe in the promise of compellence. But these asymmetries are counterveiled by mutual dependencies and other factors, including geography and salience.

The United States does the cause of stabilizing Afghanistan no good by externalizing blame for the failing war or attributing it to a single insurgent network. The future of Afghanistan is bleak. Regardless of what American officials say, the United States can easily walk away from Afghanistan without injuring itself. But it is regional states that will bear the fallout from the disaster unfolding in Afghanistan—a disaster that has American and Afghan fingerprints all over it…

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