This article addresses the blowback from France regarding the announcement of the trilateral AUKUS agreement.
With the current situation in Afghanistan unfolding faster than one can blink an eye, many have speculated that the Taliban’s seeming victory will be a confidence booster to multiple separatist and terror groups around the world, most notably to Southeast Asia and South Asia. The withdrawal also begs the question of whether US allies can rely on Washington for support in the face of China's aggression.
The events that unfolded on 15 August in Afghanistan are an indicator of the fragile nature of the security environment in the landlocked country. The fall of Kabul and the subsequent transfer of power to the Taliban were a reminder of how unpredictability and uncertainty are the central characteristic of the Afghan quagmire. Amid the takeover of Kabul, it becomes necessary to investigate where the fault lines lie and what the future and outcome of the National Resistance Front (NRF) and Taliban negotiations might be.
With the declaration of the establishment of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, regional countries are debating their way forward to either recognizing the Taliban-led government or not. For the United States, the situation is rather challenging, as aside from the tough questions over the rationality of the “Forever War” and poorly managed withdrawal strategy by the Biden administration, Washington confronts a harder choice about the Taliban as well as how to manage the evacuation of American citizens and allies from Kabul.
With the Taliban’s return to power, nontraditional security threats—ranging from illicit drug trafficking to the revival of terrorist safe havens—will be major issues of concern.
Perhaps the toughest part of the post–Afghanistan War era will be an honest accounting of its implications. Two narratives are fast-emerging about the American pullout and the collapse of the Islamic Republic—yet after a cursory examination these narratives are closer to myth than reality.
China’s road ahead with Taliban-led Afghanistan will not be easy. Since the Taliban’s victory is already a fait accompli, recognition of its legitimacy by the international community will eventually follow. Until then, China will be among the only countries to recognize Taliban leadership. What does that mean for Beijing and other powers in the region?
However, there is another way to look at the Taliban victory. If one puts to one side the frame of liberal internationalism (which, after all, was an artifact of the post–Cold War unipolar moment) and adopts instead that of “great-power competition,” or GPC (which more accurately reflects the current geopolitical environment), concerns about the loss of Afghanistan to the forces of illiberalism quickly fade. And, as those concerns fade, a new picture comes into focus—one in which America’s great-power competitors, Russia and China, are forced to deal with a rapidly deteriorating situation in a region that both consider of vital importance to their security and broader geopolitical interests. However, what, specifically, does this new strategic picture look like? How should we think about the fall of Afghanistan in the context of post-unipolar moment world—a world in which great powers like the United States, China, and Russia vie with each other for power and influence?
Beijing’s past track record contradicts the essence of Arms Trade Treaty, and this article addresses the conflict of interests in Beijing’s new venture. This is done using case studies from Asia and Africa.
North Korea is currently observing a self-imposed moratorium on ICBM and nuclear testing. While this is a good start for negotiations, there is a genuine fear that North Korea has stopped testing simply because it no longer needs to test. Whether or not this is true—and whether there is truly a warhead gap—is something that time will tell. If tests resume in earnest, then it will be clear that North Korea has more work to do.
The String of Pearls concept informs a general viewpoint about the strategic end of Chinese investments, but it seems to lack the explanatory power to flesh out the dynamics involved to alter the balance of power in the region. To add some heft to the analysis, I utilize Dr. Jeremy Garlick’s concept of geopositional balancing to supplement our understanding of the String of Pearls beyond merely that of another buzzword. This article deepens the knowledge of China’s activities in the Indian Ocean by also utilizing an understudied variant of balancing. I examine China’s engagement with Sri Lanka as a case study.
That the West could build a state and military in its own image, from the outside-in and from the top-down, without an adequate—much less a deep—understanding of Afghan society and culture was a dangerous assumption. One might say this notion represents our most fundamental error, generative of many missteps. Perhaps the earliest strategic failure in Afghanistan was the distracting invasion of Iraq in 2003, a campaign that also suffered from a similar set of fundamental, faulty assumptions. Iraq was yet another intervention with no real planning it seems for the aftermath—for all the social and political variables that must be considered to mitigate chaos and prevent prolonged conflict. Just design the exquisite air and ground campaigns, shock and awe, and rebuild the infrastructure, re-engineer the society itself with our models as templates. There seems to be a pattern, a way of thinking, so deeply embedded one might call it cultural, upon which we need to reflect.
The views and opinions expressed or implied in JIPA are those of the authors and should not be construed as carrying the official sanction of the Department of Defense, Air Force, Air Education and Training Command, Air University, or other agencies or departments of the US government or their international equivalents. See our Publication Ethics Statement.