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Why Trump’s New South Asia Policy is a Welcome Change
09/12/2017 South Asia Policy Benjamin R
keywords: South Asia Policy Trump Policy under Trump

For years, many people believed that America’s South Asian policy needs a radical shift – one in tune with the latest geopolitical situation in the region. Last month, Trump did just that by announcing the country’s new South Asian policy.

The Mistakes under Obama

The Obama Administration followed a timeline-based strategy in Afghanistan by setting timelines for the reduction and withdrawal of US troops in advance, even if the conditions were not conducive. Obama even went a step further and predicted a complete withdrawal of our troops by 2016, which thankfully did not happen.

See what happened to Iraq when we withdrew! ISIS was created! Evil filled that void. But more Afghanistan below. More than meets the eye here.

Also, Obama had been far too lenient with Pakistan, which has long been a haven for Islamic terrorists of the most dangerous kind. Every section of the Pakistani establishment – from the government to the military, press, public intellectuals, and politicians across the spectrum – either overtly or covertly support the terrorists who wage war against the Afghan and US troops, and also on neighboring countries like India.

Pakistan should have never been allowed to get nuclear weapons. Pakistan was even hiding Osama bin Laden. Obama visited Pakistan in the early 80s – he went to a Madrassa – and no one knows what they discussed. Madrassas preach the subjugation of woman, the press, the destruction of free speech, and other vile thoughts.

The New Policy under Trump

Trump has ditched Obama’s timeline-based strategy for a far more pragmatic conditions-based strategy in Afghanistan. Instead of setting dates for troop withdrawal arbitrarily, Trump has stated that the troops will remain stationed until conditions on the ground improve. This is a strong show of support to the Afghan government and a warning to the terrorists operating in the region.

Secondly, Trump has clearly called out Pakistan for being the safe haven for terrorists. He also lauded India for playing a key role in the reconstruction of Afghanistan and requested for more Indian economic assistance in the region. This again is a welcome change, as previous US administrations had always hyphenated India and Pakistan, much to the chagrin of the former.

Russia, China, Pakistan are all suspicious characters. India is not. America should be propping up India, trading with India, working out weapon’s deals, and so on. India is America’s friend on the other side of the world. Pakistan is not.

Perhaps for the first time, the US administration has publicly condemned the duplicity of Pakistan and stated clearly that the country needs to act on the extremist elements thriving in the region.

Trump intends to use the element of surprise in attacking the Taliban and other Islamic terrorist groups operating in the region, unlike his predecessor, who was fond of noticing people in advance of impending attacks, which gave terrorists ample time to move to their sanctuaries.

An America-First South Asia Policy

Unlike the Bush Administration, which was focused too much on nation-building and winning the confidence of the civilian government in Afghanistan, Trump has stated clearly that the primary goal is to safeguard America’s interests in the region. This puts the onus on the Afghan government to rebuild the country, rather than depending on the US for everything.

Some people believe Afghanistan should be partitioned. The power of Kabal only extends about 20 miles outside of that city before the power swings over to local governors and warlords. Afghanistan is not a complete country. How much money should America spend in this country? Can it do it cheaper with drones and having a few drone bases? When is America going to change its rules of engagement and begin to kill the enemy quicker?

Is Afghanistan a quagmire? Should America work much harder and just focus on getting those precious metals out of that country while employing Afghan workers?

Trump has also called for a regional-based effort to address the social, political, and security challenges in Afghanistan. He says that the US troops will no longer lead combat operations in the region. Instead, they will train, assist, and equip the local troops in the ongoing operations. This is a great move, as it can reduce the local population’s hostility towards American troops greatly.

On the whole, Trump has opened a new chapter in America’s South Asian policy. But has he done enough and it is radical enough to make anything meaningful happen?  

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