Asia & Pacific

The UN and the United States in Afghanistan

Since September 11, the United Nations has gained a rare prominence in Washington’s calculations. Of course it did once before, when Iraq invaded Kuwait–but that was more like a one-night stand turned date rape than a long-term relationship. This time, it could be a more durable courtship, based on more modest and realistic expectations on both sides.

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The Natural Ally and the Tactical Ally

In the vaguely defined international coalition in the “war against terrorism” India and Pakistan occupy perhaps the most uncomfortable positions. Pakistan was an ally of the United States during the cold war, and India, a significant leader of the Non-Aligned Movement, was seen as an obstacle to U.S. goals and objectives. Throughout the 1990s U.S. relations with India warmed, while they cooled with Pakistan. Prior to September 11, Pakistan, an authoritarian regime, was one of three countries to recognize the Taliban, and its intelligence services had close ties to the Taliban. India, on the other hand, was a democracy, and had ties to the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance. By warming up to Pakistan in the aftermath of the attacks, the U.S. has reversed the tilt toward India for which it had assiduously worked for some three years, favoring its “tactical ally” (Pakistan) over its “natural ally” (India). The Indian government appears, however, to be sacrificing its traditions of non-alignment and support for international law in order to rebuild an alliance with the U.S.

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The War in Afghanistan is Far From Over

The dramatic turn of events in Afghanistan over the past week does not necessarily mean that the struggle against Osama bin Laden and the Al-Qaida terrorists is closer to victory. The Taliban regime had offered Bin Laden and his minions sanctuary but very little in the way of direct logistical or financial support.

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Cozying up to Karimov?

Uzbekistan has sought a special relationship with the U.S. since the early 1990s. The country received designation as an American “strategic partner” in 1995 in a bilateral communique. This “strategic partner” relationship has, until recently, been largely a rhetorical designation.

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Walk Softly and Look Ahead in Nuclear South Asia

Before September 11, South Asia’s problems loomed large. The region, with over a billion people, a history of war, rising religious militancy, newly tested nuclear weapons, and a get-tough mood, was on the brink of instability. Adding to South Asia’s long list of troubles is the U.S. war against Osama bin Laden and the Taliban. Hasty U.S. actions could deepen the problems facing South Asia. Over the long term, the U.S. has the opportunity to foster regional stability–but only if it pursues a different set of policies in the region.

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Pakistan’s Day of Reckoning

The Tuesday tragedy in the U.S. is already having a profound impact on Pakistan. The apocalypse in the U.S. has forced upon the Pakistani ruling elite its day of reckoning sooner than it had anticipated. The Pakistan military, which is also running the government here since October 1999, now has to choose clearly and unequivocally between a direct confrontation with the militant religious groups–and there are dozens of them–and the wrath of a wounded and angry America.

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