Analysis

By dropping the ‘mother of all bombs’ on an Islamic State target, the United States reaffirmed its commitment to fighting terrorism, said the Atlantic Council’s James B. Cunningham

The United States sent a clear message of its commitment to fighting terrorism when it dropped the so-called mother of all bombs on an Islamic State target in Afghanistan on April 13, said James B. Cunningham, a nonresident senior fellow with the Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center.

“It really is a military instrument used to accomplish a military task,” said Cunningham, a former US ambassador to Afghanistan, adding, “there is a political element to it as well in terms of showing our commitment and determination in this particular fight.”

The US military dropped the largest non-nuclear bomb in its arsenal on an Islamic State cave and tunnel complex in Achin district in Afghanistan’s eastern Nangarhar province. The GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB), dubbed the “mother of all bombs,” is a 21,600-pound, GPS-guided munition. While dozens of people are believed to have been killed in the explosion, the Afghan defense ministry said civilians were not among the casualties.

Afghan foreign minister sees threat to peace process

Russia’s support for the Taliban—a terrorist group with which the United States has been at war for more than fifteen years and that is dedicated to overthrowing Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s government—is causing considerable unease in Afghanistan where officials worry it will undermine efforts to make peace in their war-torn country.

“[E]stablishing contacts with these terrorist groups will give them a wrong message and they will think that the international community is recognizing them,” said Salahuddin Rabbani, Afghanistan’s foreign minister and a former head of the country’s High Peace Council. This, in turn, would undercut a peace and reconciliation process because the Taliban “will not be encouraged to come to the negotiating table,” he added.

The peace process has had scant success in part because, as Rabbani noted, Afghanistan’s eastern neighbor, Pakistan, continues to provide material support and sanctuary for the terrorists.
US President Donald Trump’s likely hands-off policy toward South Asia may provide an opportunity for Pakistan and India to address longstanding disputes and reap the long-awaited benefits of cooperation.

While there is significant uncertainty about the next four years of US diplomacy, it is unlikely that Trump will succeed where so many before him failed. As he may not solve the serious security, economic, and environmental problems confronting South Asia, it is time for the region to solve these problems on its own.   
Since his election, US President Donald Trump has taken steps that harm the Iranian people by suspending visas to the United States. Trump has also adopted harsh rhetoric toward the Iranian government over missile tests and attacks by Iran-backed Houthi rebels. So far, however, he has not carried out a threat to dismantle the landmark nuclear deal that went into full implementation a year ago. This suggests that he will not attempt a “repeal and replace” strategy for an agreement that took several years and the strenuous efforts of diplomats and technocrats from seven nations to achieve.

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), as the agreement is known, verifiably prevents Iran from developing nuclear weapons for at least another fourteen years. Iran is not allowed to possess sufficient quantities of enriched uranium to make a single nuclear device, and it cannot build the infrastructure needed for a plutonium path to a bomb. Round-the-clock monitoring by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), including mine-to-centrifuge scrutiny of nuclear fuel, impedes any covert dash to nuclear weapons.
Tighten your seat belts! South Asia, along with much of the rest of the world, should get ready for a more muscular, business-like, and unorthodox foreign policy under US President Donald Trump. His team of security and foreign policy experts, many of whom have unorthodox backgrounds and credentials, will help him implement a more personalized and business-like foreign relations regime. Trump has wasted no time in seizing the opportunity to reshape US foreign policy to better define and align it with US interests as he sees them.

Other than his self-created crisis in dealing with refugees and immigrants from the Musllim World, two areas will demand Trump’s immediate attention: the war in Afghanistan and foreign aid.
Americans may still be coming to terms with Donald Trump’s election victory, but more than 7,000 miles away, the wheels of India’s diplomatic machinery began turning soon after the November results.

Indian Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval both visited the United States within a month of the elections with the intention of getting to know the incoming administration, but their meetings haven’t led to any clear indication of just what shape the India-US relationship will take over the next four years.
Donald Trump’s election as the next president of the United States not only poses a threat to the American liberal-constitutional democratic order at home, but it also threatens to end the international liberal economic and democratic order that successive US administrations have built and promoted during and in the aftermath of the Cold War.

The three pillars of US foreign policy until now have been: (1) the building of a liberal economic order institutionalized through global rule-based regimes; (2) the provisioning of public security goods through a combination of lone defense of the global commons and military alliances with regional powers; and (3) the promotion of a liberal democratic-constitutional order globally. Trump’s tweets and utterances suggest that his administration is likely to upend all three of them.

If Trump goes through with the radical modifications that he has proposed, India will have to make significant adjustments in its foreign policy. Most will likely induce significant domestic pain for New Delhi.
By 2050, 843 million people will be living in urban areas of India. They will migrate from rural regions for better job opportunities, better health care, and a better life. How will cities sustain this huge influx of people?

The government of India is already addressing this question. With the Smart Cities Mission, it is preparing urban areas to deal with the migration anticipated to occur within the next thirty years. The plan is to equip one hundred cities in India with the best infrastructure in the next five years and then continue to maintain the same pace of development over time. However, most infrastructure projects in India have been delayed in the past due to corruption, bureaucracy, and scarcity of funds. Will the government be able to speed up India’s urban development?  The Smart Cities Mission is designed specifically to do so by making efficient use of human capital, land, the manufacturing sector, and technology.
This article is part of a series.

India’s recent drive to become a full member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) is part of a two-pronged attempt by New Delhi to revive a moribund Indian civilian nuclear industry. Many, especially in India, have portrayed it as a quixotic act of diplomacy by New Delhi because they have not understood the underlying context.

The first prong of this revival plan comprised a series of measures designed to overcome the problems created by a flawed nuclear liability law that was implemented in 2010. The second prong has been to ease the ability of Indian nuclear firms to carry out their business—with a long-term view toward India becoming an exporter of nuclear components and reactors. NSG membership is seen as a crucial element for creating the right type of business environment.
This article is part of a series.

The Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) plenary meeting in Seoul ended on June 24 without resolving India’s request to join the group. The final statement issued at the conclusion of the meeting lacked an explicit reference to India’s application to join or an outline for a future course of action. With the exceptional waiver granted by the NSG to India in 2008, membership in the group should have been a relatively straightforward decision. However, larger geopolitical factors contributed to the stalemate.


    

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