If former Enron boss Kenneth Lay were put in charge of the U.S. war on terrorism, he would probably conduct it much the same way his fellow Texas oilman and beneficiary of Enron largesse, George W. Bush, has.
It was a speech foretold. After being compelled to make the “Friend-or-foe” choice after the September 11 attacks, Pakistan’s General Pervez Musharraf in his policy address on January 12th set about redefining the role of religion in Pakistani society and its domestic and external politics, with a special reference to Kashmir and terrorism. Islam, he said, has been misused and the Pakistani people exploited in its name. The general condemned acts of terrorism and in particular September 11, October 1, and December 13–the last two dates are of suicide attacks in Srinagar the capital of Indian-administered Kashmir) and on the Indian Parliament in New Delhi.
As the endgame nears in the fighting in Afghanistan, with Taliban power collapsed and Al-Qaeda members dead or on the run, it is tempting to believe that military success has decided the outcome of the war on terrorism. The Bush administration has already made it clear that it has limited interest in the long and arduous task of rebuilding Afghanistan. But Washington decisionmakers may want to heed this advice from a senior U.S. military officer and statesman from an earlier era, General George C. Marshall. In outlining the so-called Marshall Plan to rebuild a war-ravaged Europe on June 5, 1947, he warned that there could be “no political stability and no assured peace” without economic security. Europe, much like Afghanistan today, was torn by war, poverty, disease, and hunger, and risked “disturbances arising as a result of the desperation of the people,” and thus deserved American attention and funds to recover and rejoin the world community.
More and more Pashtun leaders, angered by the mounting civilian casualty toll from U.S. bombing in eastern Afghanistan, are openly criticizing the government of Hamid Karzai for backing the operation.
With the military campaign against the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan in the mopping up stage, the United States and Russia are struggling to identify the boundaries of strategic cooperation. Initial optimism about broad cooperation has faded. In Moscow, officials and foreign policy experts are now concerned that the United States is experiencing “dizziness from success,” and is embarking on a unilateralist course.
The U.S government’s announced intention to broaden the war on terrorism beyond Afghanistan has triggered growing concern that other important U.S. foreign policy goals and principles will be subordinated in the process.
Afghans are accustomed to “hoping for the best and expecting the worst.” The fragility of the current situation begs for great care and concern not to repeat past failures of Western policy. Great care must be taken in any steps in formulating a post-Taliban Afghanistan that includes an acceptable government as well as provisions for development and economic stability. Most importantly, efforts must reflect the wishes of ordinary Afghans inside of Afghanistan in order to gain credibility and long-term stability. Sadly, these sentiments seem to be ignored.
Just when it looked the Central Asian countries were facing the growing joint political hegemony of Russia and China in the region, the events of September 11 opened the door to an increased and indefinite-term U.S. military presence. This not only involves the prosecution of the war in Afghanistan but also, in particular, a new agreement recently signed with Uzbekistan to establish a U.S. military presence in this Central Asian nation. This agreement provides for American use of military bases and facilities, and it paves the way for a long-term U.S. military presence, not excluding the stationing of U.S. troops on a standing basis.
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.
Operation Enduring Freedom? By Ritu Sharma and Robert Gustafson November 1, 2001