Home Contact Us  

US & South Asia - Articles

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
#4375, 7 April 2014

US in Asia Pacific

American Endgame in Afghanistan Post-2014
Shreya Upadhyay
Research Intern, IPCS
Email: vini.shreya@gmail.com

As the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) prepares to pull out of Afghanistan by the end of 2014, it is of significance to assess larger American interests at play in the country and the region. How will the US leverage its resources to secure those interests? 

American Strategy: Keeping a Residual Force
Several voices in the US are of the view that the troop drawdown is reasonable. The US has achieved the mission of killing Osama bin Laden and has paralysed al Qaeda's operational structure. The prevailing argument is that the war that has been expensive and has resulted in the loss of several thousand American lives needs to finally end. Yet, official declarations talk in terms of ensuring stability in Afghanistan that requires US presence for training and supporting the ANSF while focussing on counter-terrorism missions. 

What remains understated is how Afghanistan, as an important geopolitical asset, serves larger American interests in the region. It is the Pentagon’s only military base in Central Asia, with Iran to the west, Pakistan to the east, China to the northeast, various resource-rich former Soviet republics to the northwest, and Russia to the north. A presence in Afghanistan would not only serve to enhance economic and trade interests but also help the US keep a close tab on these countries. 

This explains US involvement in painstaking negotiations to conclude a Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) that would enable it to maintain bases post-2014. The prospect of a continued presence in Afghanistan has also led the Obama administration to seek a peace deal with the Afghan Taliban by offering them a de-facto diplomatic mission in Qatar.

The charged confrontation between the US and Russia over Ukraine has further boosted the support towards maintaining bases. Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in a Washington Post article, linked Russia’s actions in Ukraine with the troop withdrawal from Afghanistan. According to her, anything less than the American military’s requirement for 10,000 troops will suggest that the US is not serious about helping to stabilise that country, which is likely to embolden countries like Iran, Iraq and Russia.

Aid as Carrot and Stick

The US Congress has been giving out multibillion dollar annual bills as aid to the Afghan army. However, with Karzai sticking to his word on not signing the BSA until after elections, the administration has claimed that the financial assistance, whether for armed forces or development programmes, is likely to drop steeply. In January 2014, Congress slashed the development budget for Afghanistan by half and even reduced security aid by 60 per cent.

A recent report by the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) states that the delay in signing the BSA is compounding uncertainty and diminishing economic confidence in Afghanistan. According to the report, the Afghan economy is witnessing increased capital flight, delay in investments, incipient job losses, declining demand for goods and services, and is leading to farmers planting more poppy. More families are choosing to arm themselves, leading to a hike in weapon prices. Stating that it is bound to spread into the government and security structures, the report puts the BSA as an anchor in navigating transition challenges.  

Using the Region to Leverage US Interests
It is a given that with or without the BSA, the US is likely to play a lesser role in Afghanistan in the coming months. However, the region as a whole has braced itself for more involvement in Afghanistan, with America’s blessings. The neighbouring countries realise that an unstable Afghanistan is likely to become an incubator of terrorism, poppy production and other illicit activities. Pakistan and Iran understand the repercussions of a failed state in their backyard that has the potential to create unrest and instability within their own territories. Russia and China are already worried about the spread of insurgency in the troubled Chechenya and Xinjiang provinces respectively. 

India for its part is uniquely positioned - as a friend to both Washington and Kabul. India remains in a position to use its good offices to ensure that a version of the BSA agreeable to both the countries is signed.  Building on the 'narrative of opportunity' to counter the anxiety of withdrawal, New Delhi is attempting to shift focus to regional confidence-building, development, governance, trade and investment. India until now has transferred ‘no strings attached’ aid directly to Kabul despite knowing that the Afghan government is considered corrupt. India has also tried to deal with Pakistan’s fears over military involvement in Afghanistan. Thus, it has been evasive towards Afghan requests for tanks, field guns and aircraft. As it turns out, Washington, which was more than ambivalent regarding India’s participation in the region, wants more from New Delhi today.

The ‘new silk road’ initiative to link Afghanistan’s energy, mineral and trade resources with the rest of the world ideated by the Obama administration is also being taken up by the region collectively to exploit the transit potential that can accrue much needed economic growth for the country. If successful, the project can serve as a conduit for mutually beneficial cooperation between the US, Central Asia and Russia, helping the US to continue playing a consequential role in the region.  

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
IPCS Columnists
Af-Pak Diary
D Suba Chandran
Resetting Kabul-Islamabad Relations: Three Key Issues
Can Pakistan Reset its Relations with Afghanistan?
The New Afghanistan: Four Major Challenges for President Ghani
Big Picture
Prof Varun Sahni
Understanding Democracy and Diversity in J&K
When Xi Met Modi: Juxtaposing China and India
Pakistan?s Tactical Nuclear Weapons: The Inevitability of Instability

Dateline Colombo

Asanga Abeyagoonasekera.
Sri Lanka: Moving Towards a Higher Collective Outcome
The Importance of Electing the Best to our Nation's Parliament
Sri Lanka: Toward a Diaspora Re-Engagement Plan
Dateline Islamabad
Salma Malik
Pakistan's Hurt Locker: What Next?
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
India-Pakistan Relations in 2015: Through a Looking Glass
Dhaka Discourse
Prof Delwar Hossain
IPCS Forecast: Bangladesh in 2015
18th SAARC Summit: A Perspective from Bangladesh
Bangladesh in Global Forums: Diplomacy vs. Domestic Politics
Eagle Eye
Prof Chintamani Mahapatra
India-US: Significance of the Second Modi-Obama Meet
Has President Obama Turned Lame Duck?
Modi-Obama Summit: Criticism for Criticism?s Sake?

East Asia Compass
Dr Sandip Mishra
India-Japan-US Trilateral: India?s Policy for the Indo-Pacific
China-South Korea Ties: Implications for the US Pivot to Asia
Many ?Pivots to Asia?: What Does It Mean For Regional Stability?
Himalayan Frontier
Pramod Jaiswal
Nepal?s New Constitution: Instrument towards Peace or Catalyst to Conflict?
IPCS Forecast: Nepal in 2015
Constitution-making: Will Nepal Miss its Second Deadline?

Prof Shankari Sundararaman
IPCS Forecast: Southeast Asia in 2015
Indonesia's Pacific Identity: What Jakarta Must Do in West Papua
Modi in Myanmar: From ?Look East? to ?Act East?
Sushant Sareen
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
Islamic State: Prospects in Pakistan
Pakistan: The Futility of Internationalising Kashmir

Looking East
Wasbir Hussain
Myanmar in New Delhi's Naga Riddle
China: ?Peaceful? Display of Military Might
Naga Peace Accord: Need to Reserve Euphoria
Maritime Matters
Vijay Sakhuja
Indian Ocean: Modi on a Maritime Pilgrimage
Indian Ocean: Exploring Maritime Domain Awareness
IPCS Forecast: The Indian Ocean in 2015

Nuke Street
Amb Sheelkant Sharma
US-Russia and Global Nuclear Security: Under a Frosty Spell?
India's Nuclear Capable Cruise Missile: The Nirbhay Test
India-Australia Nuclear Agreement: Bespeaking of a New Age
Red Affairs
Bibhu Prasad
Countering Left Wing Extremism: Failures within Successes
Return of the Native: CPI-Maoist in Kerala
The Rising Civilian Costs of the State-Vs-Extremists Conflict

Regional Economy
Amita Batra
India and the APEC
IPCS Forecast: South Asian Regional Integration
South Asia: Rupee Regionalisation and Intra-regional Trade Enhancement
South Asian Dialectic
PR Chari
Resuming the Indo-Pak Dialogue: Evolving a New Focus
Defence Management in India: An Agenda for Parrikar
Pakistani Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan: Implications for Asian Security

Spotlight West Asia
Amb Ranjit Gupta
Prime Minister Modi Finally Begins His Interaction with West Asia*
A Potential Indian Role in West Asia?
US-GCC Summit: More Hype than Substance
Strategic Space
Manpreet Sethi
India-Russia Nuclear Vision Statement: See that it Delivers
Global Nuclear Disarmament: The Humanitarian Consequences Route
Nasr: Dangers of Pakistan's Short Range Ballistic Missile

The Strategist
Vice Admiral Vijay Shankar
Jihadi Aggression and Nuclear Deterrence
The Blight of Ambiguity
Falun Gong: The Fear Within

OTHER REGULAR contributors
Gurmeet Kanwal
Harun ur Rashid
N Manoharan
Wasbir Hussain
Rana Banerji
N Manoharan

Ruhee Neog
Teshu Singh
Aparupa Bhattacherjee
Roomana Hukil
Aparupa Bhattacherjee

Related Articles
Salma Malik,
"Afghanistan and Pakistan: Consequences of the American Exit," 17 March 2014
D Suba Chandran,
"Pivot, Rebalance and What Next?," 13 March 2014
Chintamani Mahapatra,
"US-China Cold Confrontation: New Paradigm of Asian Security," 10 March 2014

Browse by Publications

Issue Briefs 
Special Reports 
Research Papers 
Seminar Reports 
Conference Reports 

Browse by Region/Countries

East Asia 
South Asia 
Southeast Asia 
US & South Asia 

Browse by Issues

India & the world  
Naxalite Violence 
Suicide Terrorism 
Peace & Conflict Database 
Article by same Author
Modi-fying Indo-US Relations

Will China ‘Rig’ the Indian Ocean?

India-US: DTTI and India's Quest for Self Reliance

Military Implications of the Rebalance: Increasing Chinese Aggression

Will Obama Rebalance Further?

Y! MyWeb
Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
Year 2017
 January  February  March  April  May  June  July  August  September  October  November  December
 2016  2015  2014  2013  2012  2011  2010  2009
 2008  2007  2006  2005  2004  2003  2002  2001
 2000  1999  1998  1997

The Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS) is the premier South Asian think tank which conducts independent research on and provides an in depth analysis of conventional and non-conventional issues related to national and South Asian security including nuclear issues, disarmament, non-proliferation, weapons of mass destruction, the war on terrorism, counter terrorism , strategies security sector reforms, and armed conflict and peace processes in the region.

For those in South Asia and elsewhere, the IPCS website provides a comprehensive analysis of the happenings within India with a special focus on Jammu and Kashmir and Naxalite Violence. Our research promotes greater understanding of India's foreign policy especially India-China relations, India's relations with SAARC countries and South East Asia.

Through close interaction with leading strategic thinkers, former members of the Indian Administrative Service, the Foreign Service and the three wings of the Armed Forces - the Indian Army, Indian Navy, and Indian Air Force, - the academic community as well as the media, the IPCS has contributed considerably to the strategic discourse in India.

Subscribe to Newswire | Site Map
18, Link Road, Jungpura Extension, New Delhi 110014, INDIA.

Tel: 91-11-4100-1902    Email: officemail@ipcs.org

© Copyright 2017, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies.