Managing Afghanistan and Pakistan will be no picnic as Islamist threats and China loom. India could be a promising partner for the United States, but even it requires skillful handling.

Advice for US Policymakers
September 13, 2017

The South Asian Vortex

During the post-9/11 era, U.S. policy in South Asia has served as a nearly perfect illustration of President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s old line, “What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.” On the whole, Washington has lavished less attention and fewer resources on India, the most populous nation in the region and the state with the greatest potential to shape global geopolitics over the long run, than on neighboring Pakistan. In turn, U.S. officials have tended to treat Pakistan, with its 200 million people and impossibly frustrating bundle of policy challenges, as an irritating appendage of the U.S. war in Afghanistan. And even to Afghanistan the U.S. government has rarely devoted sufficient or sustained policy focus. The Bush Administration shortchanged it in favor of war in Iraq, and the Obama Administration’s surge was shaped more by U.S. domestic political considerations than by Afghanistan’s own realities or trajectory.

Daniel Markey is a senior research professor in international relations and the academic director of the Global Policy Program at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. He is currently writing a book about the geopolitics of increasing Chinese influence in western Asia.
The article appeared in The American Interest on 13/07/2017