President Trump has revamped the US strategy for Afghanistan. Amid a plethora of commentary in US and world media over the strategy and its implications, veteran Russian political analyst Dmitri Kosyrev offers his own. According to the observer, Washington's real goal has less to do with Afghanistan than it does with Pakistan, China and India.
On Monday, US President Donald Trump unveiled an updated US strategy for Afghanistan, pledging to wage war against the Taliban and other Islamist groups more aggressively than his predecessor, and approving the deployment of an additional 4,000 US troops.
"Do we like Trump's decision to 'stay in Afghanistan'?" political contributor Dmitri Kosyrev asked in a recent article for RIA Novosti. "It depends on what its real meaning is. If one believes the US media, which is monopolized by the Democrats, it's simple: there is no meaning, only stupidity, because it's Trump."
"But there are also countries which understand very well the meaning of what is happening," Kosyrev added. "They include Afghanistan itself, Pakistan, India and China. They understand that [the strategy] is not about Afghanistan at all. Rather, Washington is looking to put India and China – two powers which are overtaking the US, at loggerheads. Factually, this is a very simple, clear policy."
From an American's perspective, "and from a Russian's too," in the journalist's view, Trump's strategy look's like it aims to "keep an indefinite US military presence in the country indefinitely. The question that immediately arises is: What's the point? Trump is adding another 4,000 troops to the eight thousand and change already in the country. Even if it were 40,000, at one point there were about 100,000 troops, and nothing good came of it."
This means that strategically speaking, "no military victory over terrorism can be expected; and Trump himself doesn't explain what a win would mean. At best, he's talking about avoiding defeat, saying that the US cannot withdraw, etc."
"But it's only to us that the US strategy seems incomprehensible," Kosyrev stressed. "To observers from Delhi, Islamabad, Beijing and Kabul, everything is clear. The main sensation in Trump's speech was his stern warning to Pakistan over its support of the same terrorists that the US have been unable to defeat since 2001. Instead, India, Pakistan's traditional adversary since 1947, has been invited to cooperate in Afghanistan. Alliances are shifting."
In this connection, the observer noted that it cannot be overlooked that the main economic and political players in Afghanistan isn't the US and its allies, but India and China. "Such was the unexpected result of the war: The US fought in the country, losing over 2,500 troops, but the ones investing into the Afghani economy, and thereby holding influence are its neighbors in Delhi and Beijing."
© AP PHOTO/ ABDUL KHALIQ
In this July 24, 2016 file photo, a US military personal stands guard during a graduation ceremony for Afghan troops, in Lashkargah, capital of southern Helmand province, Afghanistan.
"And the two countries don't interfere with one another," Kosyrev added. "The Chinese engage in mining and infrastructure, the Indians in infrastructure, trade, and other small business. Gradually, with the help of the mechanisms in BRICS, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, and others, they will cooperate."
At the same time, the journalist recalled, its geopolitics 101 that "Pakistan is a traditional enemy of India, and once a US partner, including in the military sphere. Today, Islamabad is coming increasingly under China's protection, something not conducive to Indian-Chinese friendship. On the whole, the relationship between Beijing and Delhi is difficult to assess, Pakistan aside. Some see rivalry, others cooperation. But in fact there is space for both."