I’ve been a fan of Steve Coll’s ever since we both covered South Asia in the early 90s, so needless to say, I feel somewhat… what’s that nice English word… vindicated by this:
The United States has a deep interest in the emergence of a stable, modernizing, economically integrated, peaceful South Asia—by which I mean the region that is centered on India, but which also encompasses Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Afghanistan.
The Taliban are a backward-looking threat to the near-term stability of South Asia—in Afghanistan, in Pakistan, and, as the Mumbai attacks demonstrated, occasionally in India. The United States has an interest in preventing the Taliban from destabilizing South Asia by acquiring influence in nuclear-armed Pakistan or by provoking a war between India and Pakistan, two still-insecure nuclear powers.
You might recall that I put forward, to much ridicule, pretty much the same argument for stabilising Afghanistan a few weeks back in my post “9/11, American Myopia and Nuclear War”. Now, I have no doubt Coll will be crucified by the “anti-war” crowd as a gutless stooge of the military-industrial complex just as I did, and since this torch-and-pitchfork mob is basically illiterate¹, the fact that he wrote Ghost Wars will probably be held against him. Even so, it’s nice to know I’m not alone.
¹In the immortal words of one blogger I confronted via email: “None of these [objections to the war] require extensive knowledge of Afghanistan. Nothing I’ve written implies that I am an area expert — or even especially knowledgeable — about Afghanistan. Nothing I’ve written requires that.”
[UPDATE: And heeere we go: “… the real question for these people is not how they would do it […] but how many people would they kill to achieve it…” “… the dark abyss of their souls…” “…to them the killing doesn’t matter, they would kill everyone…” Wow — I thought you guys were predictable, but this is… wow.]