Pakistan’s Endgame for Afghanistan


Chris Dierkes

Chris Dierkes (aka CJ Smith). 29 years old, happily married, adroit purveyor and voracious student of all kinds of information, theories, methods of inquiry, and forms of practice. Studying to be a priest in the Anglican Church in Canada. Main interests: military theory, diplomacy, foreign affairs, medieval history, religion & politics (esp. Islam and Christianity), and political grand bargains of all shapes and sizes.

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15 Responses

  1. Avatar Michael Drew says:

    First: Huzzah for another installment of Dierkes On The War. I was going to request it, but just figured it was on the way.

    My main response would continue to be that you’re right on on the substance but that you’re a bit credulous with the official statement of policy, while also having slightly unrealistic expectations about the extent to which basic deference to formal diplomatic requirements can be. Which is to say do you really think that a) we haven’t been dealing with (counting on) Pakistan all along or b) we can really cut out Kabul entirely?

    We have to assume (at least I feel like I do) that the U.S is just as aware as the rest of us that the prospects for long-term Afghan state influence of events in much of the country, and certainly places like Helmand, or indeed for the national force that could even notionally do such a thing. At the same time, there will always be an Afghan national government that needs to seek some basis of legitimacy with the people in its purview. It will never possess control of much of Afghanistan by force, but at the same time it needs to reach a state of peaceful coexistence with those it (doesn’t) “govern.” And here is where Pakistan comes in. by all accounts the Pakistanis look to be in the catbird seat for dictating the terms of a settlement. All evidence is that the U.S. has been quietly seeking just such a role in Afghanistan for a Pakistan that shows willingness to address its own Taliban insurgency in a way the U.S. wants to see. Where does this leave the Karzai and future Kabul governments? As the beneficiaries of a regional peace settlement in which they do not face an insurgency but do not have de fact control over a large part of their country, and are not the drivers of the regional security arrangement. Just as they were always going to be. But there’ll have to be formal nods to their legitimacy, and even token substantive ones. That’s all subject to the talks — which have to go thru Pak. In that vein, if in fact Pakistan picked up Baradar b/c he didn’t want to go thru Islamabad and instead went rogue to Karzai, that’s all to the good. My big hang-up is why we can’t seem to get ANY message thru to Karzai, but especially this one: “You’ll be dealt in almost every hand, but you’re playing with our money. So just sit there and don’t do anything dumb.” I’m talkin’ to you, Karl.Report

    • Avatar Michael Drew says:

      Sorry for so much mangled syntax, in a rush.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew says:

        (e.g. first sentence should end with “sloughed off” or equiv.)Report

        • Avatar Chris Dierkes says:

          well….I wouldn’t underestimate the degree to which countries talk past each other and just hear what they want to hear. My read is that if Gen. Kiyani has to go to NATO twice to make his point, something isn’t really being followed up on. Also if he had to re-explain to them that for them India is the real issue, there’s something not getting through. That should be a totally obvious point.

          My guess (and it’s just that) is that Pakistan is still being asked to essentially sign on to the US policy which they don’t want. Sure the US is happy about Pakistan taking on the Pakistani Taliban, but at the end of the day that doesn’t really signal a potential endgame for the US in Afghanistan.

          My sense of Karzai is that he is perceived as damaged goods and might be left out to dry in order to make a deal. I have a hard time seeing guys like Haqqani/Hekmatyr entering into a deal that doesn’t involve Karzai being pushed out.Report

          • Avatar Michael Drew says:

            Steve Coll seems to think the Pakistanis have a pretty conscious interest in Afghanistan…for reasons not unrelated to India (they perceive India and Iran to dominate Afghanistan, and strongly desire not to have NWrn and SEtrn fronts). And the notion is that what Hekmatyar and Haqqani will do can be strongly influenced by Pakistan, if we give them the right incentives. But hey, seriously, I do not know sh**.Report

            • Avatar Michael Drew says:

              …but yeah, why wouldn’t we hang out Karzai at this point if it gets us a deal. Yglesias thinks it’s because of his ethnicity, but that’s making the assumption that the function of holding together a quasi-real state is actually necessary, I think.Report

  2. Avatar Art Deco says:

    All quite imaginative, Mr. Dierkes.Report

    • Avatar Chris Dierkes says:

      Usually it helps if you actually back up claims with citations, analysis, and the like. Otherwise nobody really cares what you think.Report

      • Avatar Art Deco says:

        Fine. When are you going to do that?Report

        • Avatar Jaybird says:

          Hey, Art! I never heard back from you about the debate.

          Are you willing to debate? I’d settle for an answer something to the effect of “I’m not willing to debate gay marriage with you” (with a “and here’s why”, if you’re feeling generous, of course).

          Lemme know!Report

          • Avatar Art Deco says:

            I am not sure why you are interested in an elaboration on my opinions as opposed to someone else’s, other than perhaps that I am the only vociferous objector in these parts. Nothing I might have to say has not been said elsewhere and by people more knowledgeable and persuasive than myself.

            I do not devote much time to all this and generally limit myself to brief and sour comments on other people’s remarks. Forensics I do not do. I did at one time, but that was along time ago and among friends who could happily scrimmage. A discussion I can manage, but likely not in the next week. (Trouble on the home front). If you leave a comment on my (inactive) blog, I can post it and offer a reply of sorts, and then you can reply to my reply. I have a feature which requires moderation of comments on posts over a certain age, so it will not immediately appear.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird says:

              Dude, I’m interested in a *DEBATE*.
              Like I open with my opening remarks.
              Then you open with your opening remarks.
              Then I post my viewpoint expressed the best as I can tell.
              Then you post yours.
              Then I post my closing remarks in which I say that I won.
              Then you post your closing remarks in which you say that you won.

              It’ll be fun.

              I’ve no doubt that I can get one of the gents to sidebar it.

              I’ll even let you pick the ground rules.

              You game?Report

  3. Avatar North says:

    Art ol boy, you’re not being very Gentlemanly.Report

  4. Avatar North says:

    Chris, I really hope you’re right on this issue. Frankly I hope you’re right and that Obama and his peeps figure it out. I hope he packs Hillary onto a cargo plane filled with numnums for Pakistan and just flat out buys the whole country. How much money would we have to bribe them with before it’d be more costly than the current military work in Afghanistan. Pay the buggers off, then get out. If India gets uncomfortable then, I don’t know, do something nice for them. More nuclear co-operation. Maybe a free trade deal. They’re a democratic regional super power and they’re a practical bunch, we could work things out with them.Report