FROM GREAT GAME TO GRAND BARGAIN: Ending Chaos in Afghanistan and Pakistan
By Barnett R. Rubin and Ahmed Rashid
Reviewed by Norvell B. De Atkine
Referring to the "Great Game," a phrase once applied to the long British-Russian rivalry for a commanding position in Afghanistan, deemed necessary for control of India, the authors are highly critical of President Bush's policies in Afghanistan and offer what they view as possible remedies to policies they consider failed.
Rubin and Rashid, both recognized experts in their field, paint a bleak portrait of the future of Afghanistan if corrective policies are not quickly implemented. They view the Karzai government as losing credibility, both domestically and abroad. To a large degree the Pakistani political crisis has also been a salient reason for the decline in the once hopeful future of Afghanistan. Pakistan, unable to control its own internal provinces, is hardly capable of controlling the long rebellious border areas between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Measures taken recently by the current U.S. administration to bolster Afghanistan will not help Pakistan, nor will more aid to Pakistan, military or civilian. The Pakistani political elite view their country as surrounded by enemies determined to dismember it, and increasing Indian influence in Afghanistan has increased that fear.
Neither the Pakistani nor Afghan security forces can cope with the growing insurgencies in both countries. Nor can they uproot the still solid al-Qaeda organization from its secure bases in the border areas. The authors claim that this dire turn of events could lead to a collapse of nuclear-armed Pakistan with unfathomable consequences. The authors put much of the blame on the Bush Administration for its "institutional inertia and ideology," which was based on the view that Pakistan would always be an ally, Iran the enemy, and Iraq the main threat. Depending on Pakistan for logistics support and intelligence leaves the United States vulnerable to manipulation.
Many of the criticisms revolve around the Administration's war on terror, "axis of evil," and "victory" mindset, inevitably leading American policy into an ideological...