China Makes Further Inroads In Afghanistan and Pakistan Post Bin Laden – Where’s the Outrage?

Posted on May 14, 2011


When the Imperial powers of the West terrified china

China has adeptly positioned itself worldwide for global dominance and it is accumulating bases of power as the US retreats.  With a rift with Pakistan over the manner in which the US entered Pakistan to kill Bin Laden and growing problems with Afghani President Karzaid, the US is not doing well in the area with so many assets on the ground and aid monies pouring into both countries and for which countless US lives have been lost.  Back in 2009, a New York Times op ed featured this observation:

In Afghanistan, American and Chinese interests converge. By exploiting Afghanistan’s metal and mineral reserves, China can provide thousands of Afghans with jobs, thus generating tax revenues to help stabilize a tottering Kabul government. Just as America has a vision of a modestly stable Afghanistan that will no longer be a haven for extremists, China has a vision of Afghanistan as a secure conduit for roads and energy pipelines that will bring natural resources from the Indian Ocean and elsewhere. So if America defeats Al Qaeda and the irreconcilable elements of the Taliban, China’s geopolitical position will be enhanced.

This is not a paradox, since China need not be our future adversary. Indeed, combining forces with China in Afghanistan might even improve the relationship between Washington and Beijing. The problem is that while America is sacrificing its blood and treasure, the Chinese will reap the benefits. The whole direction of America’s military and diplomatic effort is toward an exit strategy, whereas the Chinese hope to stay and profit.

Where is the outrage at our government for allowing us to pave the way for Chinese power plays?  In Brazil we are drilling oil not for us but for the benefit of China.  Who says we have a large debt to them.  American blood has bought safety for them in Afghanistan to build infrastructure to get raw materials from that country back to China.

And the calculations get more complicated still: a withdrawal of any kind from Afghanistan before a stable government is in place would also hurt India, a critical if undeclared American ally, and increasingly a rival of China. Were the Taliban to retake Afghanistan, India would face a radical Islamistan stretching from its border with Pakistan deep into Central Asia. With the Taliban triumphant on Pakistan’s western border, jihadists there could direct their energies to the eastern border with India.

India would defeat Pakistan in a war, conventional or nuclear. But having to do so, or simply needing to face down a significantly greater jihadist threat next door, would divert India’s national energies away from further developing its economy and its navy, a development China would quietly welcome.

Bottom line: China will find a way to benefit no matter what the United States does in Afghanistan. But it probably benefits more if we stay and add troops to the fight. The same goes for Russia. Because of continuing unrest in the Islamic southern tier of the former Soviet Union, Moscow has an interest in America stabilizing Afghanistan (though it would take a certain psychological pleasure from a humiliating American withdrawal).

This is exactly how an empire declines, by allowing others to take advantage of its own exertions. [ New York Times]

The Times of India  in an article titled ” Asian Power Play, post Osama” the zero sum game China is playing was summarized:

Indeed, two weeks before the bin Laden raid, Pakistani leaders visited Kabul to give Afghan President Hamid Karzai advice on the coming new era. Abandon the untrustworthy Americans, they said, urging Afghanistan to embrace China as the economic powerhouse and reliable regional military power. Afghan officials told New Delhi how stunned they were by this unsolicited advice. Whether Karzai, who was recently given a lavish reception in Beijing, heeds Pakistan’s suggestion remains to be seen. But the deep chasm with the US created by the killing of Osama on Pakistani soil opens up a new chapter of Sino-Pakistani relations.

And the Bin Laden death factor?

The future of Pakistan, peace in Afghanistan, normalcy in India-Pakistan relations, and economic progress in South Asia all hinge on whether Bin Laden’s death dilutes extremism and dissolves intolerance or re-concentrates both.The history of the region’s discord is a complex mix of ethnic, territorial, and existential fears, imaginary or real. But now that America’s mission in Afghanistan has, at least symbolically, achieved its objectives, a new chapter must open. To persist with the old “reordering” of Afghanistan would be sheer folly, dissipating whatever good might come from the end of Bin Laden’s blood-soaked career. [Burma Digest]

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