- Students’ Column
- War and Military
Written by Igor Siletsky, Voice of Russia
Recently, the two-thousandth US serviceman was killed in Afghanistan. The fact that he was killed not by militants but by Afghani security forces makes this news even sadder.
This sad record seems to have made the US authorities think again about whether the US’s involvement in the conflict in Afghanistan was a right step. Were the US’s interests in Afghanistan really worth the deaths of these 2,000 servicemen?
Meanwhile, other countries also have their own interests in Afghanistan. China, for example, is actively developing contacts with Afghanistan, with which it has a common border.
Now, what is so special about Afghanistan that the US, China and some other countries believe their interests there to be so important? We have asked chess grandmaster Vladislav Tkashyov this question. (One may find it strange to ask a chess player to comment on political issues – but, after all, isn’t politics, to a big extent, a game, just like chess?)
Here is what Mr. Tkashyov answered:
“One may feel sorry for Afghanistan because this country, as if it doesn’t have enough problems of its own, has also become a subject of certain interests of other countries – and these interests do not always correspond with the interests of Afghanistan itself. Emissaries of the European Union, the Arab League, the US, China, India and a number of other countries and international organizations come to Afghanistan practically every day. But this seems to be of little help to Afghanistan – the situation there is only becoming more chaotic day after day. The drug flow from Afghanistan to other countries has increased several dozens of times within the last few years.”
“Afghanistan’s natural resources are estimated at $ 1 trillion. But even this fact doesn’t seem to be a sufficient answer to the question of what it is about Afghanistan that attracts so many countries. After all, it is not very easy to get to these natural riches and to maintain permanent control over them in a country that has been nearly permanently gripped with war for already about a century and a half!”
“The real reason why Afghanistan is so important in world politics is probably its geographic location. Afghanistan borders with Iran and China and neighbors with Middle Asia.”
“As it is known, the US often declares Iran and China to be countries where the US has some special interests. To “tame” Iran, the US has chosen a policy of economic sanctions. Besides, the US, from time to time, inspires Israel to threaten Iran with possible “preventive” attacks. The US also hopes that the civil war in Syria will result in ousting Bashar Assad’s regime, which would deprive Iran of the only ally among its neighbors.”
“China is viewed by the US as a more civilized country than Iran, and with China, the US has to adhere to a more sophisticated policy than an open policy of sanctions.”
“This year, the US officially announced that it was going to concentrate 60% of its navy in the Asia-Pacific region,” Vladislav Tkachyov continues. “The US has already rejected the so-called “anaconda’s strategy” (a strategy of trade sanctions), which it once used against China. Now the US prefers the so-called “policy of deterrence” – the policy of military threatening, which it used against the Soviet Union in the time of the Cold War.”
“China realizes this threat from the US quite well, and is trying to secure its borders and maintain good relations with the neighboring countries. Afghanistan is one of China’s neighbors, and it is small wonder that China is trying to strengthen its positions in Afghanistan as well.”
Several days ago, one of the leaders of the Chinese Communist Party, Zhou Yongkang, visited Afghanistan. Mr. Zhou’s visit lasted only 4 hours, but this was enough for the sides to agree that 300 Afghan police officers will be trained in China and that China will allocate an aid of $ 150 mln to Afghanistan.
The US, in its turn, also does not want to lose its positions in Afghanistan. The US authorities are going to ask the UN for permission to prolong the mandate for the staying of its forces in Afghanistan after 2014 – although initially, it was planned that all US forces would be withdrawn from Afghanistan by that time.
“Taking all this into account, it is hard to expect that peace may come to Afghanistan soon,” grandmaster Vladislav Tkachyov concludes.