India, Pakistan, and the United States Tick..Tick..Tick..

A lot of talk about a lot of things will happen next week in the first Presidential debate between President Barack Obama and Candidate Mitt Romney. And the second debate that happens a week later will focus on foreign policy.

Debating foreign policy may not be sexy or glitzy, and may cause many people’s eyes to glaze over, but it is as important as domestic policy when considering the global nature of our economic fortunes.

Side by side with foreign policy economic concerns is the focus on emerging threats in the world such as Iran’s move toward developing a nuclear weapon, the uncertain development of the Middle Eastern and North African independence movements. And as always, Russian and Chinese relations will be on the agenda. And of course, the war in Afghanistan will be discussed.

I would like to spend some time making the case for a long term presence in Afghanistan. A presence that is not only necessary, but vital perhaps to global security throughout this century.

Afghanistan itself will always have an uncertain future. The Afghans are warriors by nature, and will continue a feudal existence. The necessity of keeping United States forces is not based on Afghan instability, but of their worrisome neighbor, Pakistan. And their perpetual enemy, India.

Here is a link, thanks to Wikipedia, detailing the 65 year old hot button dispute between the two countries.

The fight between the two nuclear powers, and I emphasize “NUCLEAR” is over the Kashmir region between the two countries. In the 65 years since the end of British rule in 1947 there have been four wars and countless military skirmishes, as well as terrorist attacks, including the Mumbai attacks of 2008.

As one might suspect, religion, or the failure to partition the former British colony along religious lines led to what has been a continuous state of war between the two nations. Think of the situation as a Northern Ireland style conflict, with nukes.

Rarely brought up on American news, this is a conflict that can still explode at any time. Muslim versus Hindu, and enter in the potential of a destabilized Pakistan with nuclear weapons and absolutely no fear of using them against their most hated enemy. That is the nightmare scenario that faces the region, where a nuclear conflict leaves hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, dead, destroys the world economy, draws in China, Russia, and the United States into both a strategic and humanitarian catastrophe unheard of in world history.

Events in Pakistan are at best tenuous. And no one is sure who or what will be in charge if a Muslim extremist group gains power. And India will have no qualms about retaliation if attacked.

So, this is why the United States needs to keep a presence in Afghanistan, especially in the Northwest provinces. If in fact a coup occurs in Pakistan, which has happened a few times in the last 30 years, the United States needs a force to enter Pakistan and secure all the nuclear weapons, and if possible remove them. This would be impossible without a presence nearby.

Is staying in Afghanistan risky, absolutely. But the bigger risk is the gamble of a destabilized Pakistan turning their new found nukes on one of the largest and most democratic nations on the earth. And for the cynics who would roll up the mat and isolate ourselves. Nothing happens in a vacuum in this world anymore. A nuclear conflict in that region of the world will threaten the very existence of the rest of the world. And for that reason, we, the United States have to been the last line of defense against such a turn of events.

So…consider this writing when the two candidates debate foreign policy in about two weeks.


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