“Smart diplomacy” rattles south Asia:
There has been a remarkable absence of clarity on Mr Obama’s strategic goals. In the early months, it was easy to pretend he was making up his mind. Now, it would seem he has no mind. His confusion on AfPak and constant shifting of tactical milestones would suggest he has little understanding of the nature of the challenge there and, behind those engaging phrases, is thoroughly confused. If the Obama Administration’s most recent thoughts on AfPak are taken as final, the American President is looking to cut and run. He would want to begin bringing troops home by early 2012, in time for his re-election. This would mean delegating Afghanistan to the Pakistani Army, and asking it to control the Taliban. It would also activate a lethal Saudi-Pakistani-Taliban alliance. This formidable combination of wealth, geography, religious appeal, unending foot-soldiers and nuclear weapons would create a monster power straddling south and west Asia. To some degree, it could be offset by a strong India and a stable Iran, which would flank AfPak. However, Mr Obama is determined that Teheran must not pursue its Bomb and India should be pressured to sign the NPT. Strangely, he has not considered asking Pakistan to give up its nukes in return for billions of dollars of “sustained and expanded commitment”.
Given the intensely and admirably egalitarian nature of the United States presidential election process, it has always been a theoretical possibility that the country will send to the White House a person inexperienced in global affairs and unequal to the international situation before him. Often this has not been the case, and incumbents have risen to the job. Sixty years ago, Harry S Truman had limited first-hand knowledge of great power bargaining but turned out to be farsighted enough to anticipate the Cold War. Mr Obama is the antithesis of this phenomenon. He is completely out of his depth and will probably leave behind a dangerous and unsure legacy.
That’s from an editorial in New Delhi’s Pioneer yesterday. If you choose to read the whole thing, you might want to first hide any sharp objects. And pour yourself a stiff one.