There's an understandable jaded detachment to a lot of Afghanistan commentary that, I think, overweights the probability of either a decisive Kabul defeat or an unending civil war. Lots of intermediate possibilities seem available. /1
Should the international community encourage or midwife a de facto partition of Afghanistan as Robert Blackwill once encouraged? /2 foreignaffairs.com/articles/afgha…
I always got impression Blackwill's goal was to scare Pakistan with the danger of a Pashtunistan at its doorstep, but we are past that point. Can the international community given plausible resources create a more defensive parameter for a rump, non-Taliban Afghan state. /3
I don't see why Iran and Russia, working with India and other regional actors, couldn't maintain buffer state(s) in Afghanistan's west or north indefinitely. /4
These are people's lives we are talking about, and I don't think we should pretend this is some game of Risk. But at the same time, identifying second- or third-best solutions that maintain some normalcy for Afghans seems to be a moral imperative for the int'l community. /5
Most civil wars don't end with "fall of Saigon" decisiveness. Can some stability be forged even if vanquishing the Taliban from the battlefield seems impossible? In any event, perhaps this conversation is lively somewhere on the internet, but it seems lacking to me. /end

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More from @clary_co

19 Jul
I'm trying to read a few contemporary China policy books. Rush Doshi 's The Long Game is up first. At any point I may be distracted by life. /1
Argument in brief has really strong Mearsheimer echoes to me, with the sort of post-paradigmatic synthesis I'd expect from a younger scholar. /2 Image
"China now poses a challenge unlike any the United States has ever faced. For more than a century, no U.S. adversary or coalition of adversaries has reached 60 percent of U.S. GDP." Absolutely true. Can't be said enough. /3
Read 9 tweets
5 May
The initial coverage focused on the (ongoing) human tragedy in India. We are starting to see analysts considering the implications for India's reputation in the world. @SushantSin on how the pandemic is inconsistent with Modi's self-reliance vision. /1 foreignpolicy.com/2021/05/03/ind…
Such themes are also found in @HappymonJacob 's piece today, "A COVID blot on India’s foreign policy canvas". /2 thehindu.com/opinion/lead/a…
I think we'll see quite a few stories about how the pandemic is causing a rethink of Modi's competence, which is the framing of today's Associated Press story (which is rich with compelling photos, I should note). /3 apnews.com/article/india-…
Read 6 tweets
4 Apr
At least 22 Indian paramilitaries were killed in an encounter with leftist Naxalities in the forests of Chhattisgarh this weekend. A few quick contextual points. /1 indianexpress.com/article/india/…
Naxalite violence peaked in 2010 at levels roughly twice or more that which are experienced today. From a good recent report by @pstanpolitics. /2
I have seen people blaming UPA inaction on Naxalism for today's state of affairs but that just isn't present in the data. In fact, Manmohan Singh said it was a serious threat and dealt with it accordingly, & Naxalite violence decreased every year between 2010 and 2015. /3
Read 7 tweets
1 Jan
In 1999, India and Pakistan fought a conflict near the town of Kargil? Was it a war? Yes. Let me literally show my math. 1/n
Political scientists have arbitrarily decided to say that conflicts with greater than 1,000 battle dead are wars and those below are something else. This threshold is sometimes referred to by the names of the scientists who adopted this convention, Singer and Small. 2/n
After giving much lower numbers for a decade, in November 2010, names on the “Shuhada's Corner” of the Pakistan Army official website gave a number of Kargil war dead at 453. 3/n (thehindu.com/news/internati…
Read 5 tweets
20 Nov 20
I had a chance to spend some more time with this paper yesterday and thought I'd share some of the things that popped out. Since the paper is organized more or less around quotes from their interviews in China about the Sino-Indian nuclear balance, it is very quotable. 1/n
"Chinese analysts maintain a dismissive attitude about... nuclear weapons in China-India relations. The attitude stems from a widely held view that India’s indigenous military technologies are significantly behind China’s & that China will continue widening the gulf..." 2/n
"[Chinese analysts] also downplay the risk of nuclear escalation in any conventional conflict with India, though they do worry about an India-Pakistan nuclear conflict." 3/n
Read 15 tweets
19 Nov 20
Tellis 2020: "Today, India possesses the world’s 2nd-largest army (...active duty), which is complemented by arguably the world’s largest paramilitary forces; the 7th-largest navy (...by number of vessels); and the 4th largest air force (...by the number of combat aircraft)"
Tellis 2020: "Since addressing bread-&-butter issues is critical to success in mass politics..., India’s political leaders have consistently paid more attention to economic & technological development rather than expanding the country’s influence through military instruments."
Tellis: "By 2025 or shortly thereafter, the 4 major air bases currently used by China along the India border could expand to as many as 12 facilities..., which—depending on the number of air regiments deployed—could confront the IAF with... 200 to 400 Chinese combat aircraft..."
Read 4 tweets

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