America’s War On Terrorism In Southern Asia: Political And Military Dilemmas
Authors: Ollapally, Deepa (University of Pennsylvania)
Abstract: It was inevitable that the United States would find itself caught between competing pressures from India and Pakistan as it tried to wage a war in neighboring Afghanistan against al Qaeda forces and the Taliban. The swiftness and intensity with which this dilemma would come could not have been foreseen, but that it would arise at some point was not difficult to predict. The current situation in South Asia brings to the surface a number of critical questions surrounding the broader war on terrorism which have not been fully resolved, ranging from the definition of terrorism, to what constitutes legitimate responses, and by whom. How the United States ultimately resolves these questions will have implications not just for US policy in South Asia, but in the wider context. This chapter poses the challenges that the Bush administration faces in South Asia, the various policy dilemmas involved, and how they are likely to be impacted by the policies pursued by regional actors. The main argument of this essay is that the United States may have simplified the challenges and contradictions it faces in South Asia and overestimated its ability to manage unavoidable dilemmas. By the same token, India and Pakistan have tended to underestimate the American commitment to this new war, partly because of the kind of lessons each country has learned (or ignored) from past US policies, which in turn provides limits as well as opportunities for the Bush administration.