Welcome back for the conclusion of my interview with Paul
Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould. In
the first half, you dissected how we got to this point. The next question for you two is, can we
break out of this military mindset?
The U.S. is currently in a tenuous financial arrangement with the rest of the world and especially Russia and China. How long the United States can continue to act as a hegemonic power in Central Asia with the intention of controlling pipeline routes against Chinese and Russian interests is a delicate and growing issue. Without careful and ingenious diplomacy, the United States could soon find itself as the odd man out. No amount of military thinking or spending will resolve the problem the United States faces. If the United States can't adjust to this new post cold war reality, then the U.S. will go the way of the Soviet Union.
So, you're the true experts in the region. What do you recommend as a course of action?
Nearly a decade into its Afghan adventure, the U.S. is running out of options. Had Washington dropped its cold war containment policy vis a vis China and Russia, encouraged Iran to continue its post 9/11 assistance in Afghanistan and allowed for a regional solution to take hold early in the Bush years, and had development, and reconstruction superseded the Pentagon mandate for full spectrum dominance, a new and radically different Central Asia would have emerged to challenge the growth of extremism.
Instead, the U.S. must now forfeit its leadership role and its emphasis on military solutions and hope that history judges it kindly by:
1. Returning Afghanistan's formal diplomatic status to that of a neutral buffer state, a role that insured Afghanistan's peace for decades prior to the Soviet invasion.
2. Empowering the UN to forge a diplomatic agreement from Afghanistan's regional neighbors Russia, India, Iran, Tajikistan and China that assures Afghanistan's independence from Taliban coercionas well as foreign occupation.
3. Establishing a timetable for the transfer of U.S. military bases to the Afghan government while setting a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. forces within five years. (A regional settlement is impossible until the U.S. disavows a permanent military occupation).
4. Replacing NATO and American troops with UN peacekeeping forces, emphasizingtroops from Islamic nations.
5. Requiring that the agreement be signed by all participants including Saudi Arabia and Pakistan who will vow to honor Afghanistan's neutrality, foreswear support for insurgent forces and end the importation of weapons.