India--Our True Friend in South Asia
The killing of Osama bin Laden in a compound less than 100 km from the Pakistani capital of Islamabad caused many Americans to question just how much of an ally the Muslim Islamic State is. We've heard all the arguments--that Pakistan provides invaluable help for our anti-Islamist efforts in South Asia, that it has suffered major losses at the hands of our enemies, and so forth. We also know that Pakistan was more of an ally during the Cold War than its rival India, whose premier PM, J Nehru, took it on a pro-Soviet course that did not vary until the USSR's fall. Times have changed, however; international alliances have shifted; and both countries could proffer charges against one another. But there is too much at stake to do that.
The withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan, which begins next month, will create a power vacuum that the Karzai government is incapable of filling. Candidates to do so include China (which has been making strong moves in that direction), the Taliban (which remains active in the country--and the Obama administration is even looking to cut a deal with the Islamists), Iran (which has a Shi'ite group there in need of its "protection"), and Pakistan (which at the very least is suspect and unstable). None of them would make for a friendly South Asia. Yet, the Obama administration continues to dismiss the one regional power that would: India. Its interests are largely the same as the US, as are its major enemies; the specter of its increased influence is the one thing that scares the pants off the Pakistanis; it has the economic and military strength to check Chinese expansion; and it is, like the US and unlike the other candidates, a committed democratic republic.
There's still time--not a lot, but some; and the only path that has any chance of keeping Afghanistan and most of South Asia from falling under Islamist or Chinese control is a mature relationship between these two great powers: the United States of America and India. For more, see: India as the Solution to Afghan Power Vacuum.