They Live There

One of these kind of obvious-but-important points brought to mind by yesterday’s atrocities in India is that when you’re thinking about US policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan it’s important to recognize that unlike the other players on that chess board, we live in the Western Hemisphere. The ISI, the Indians, the Taliban, Hamid Karzai, various warlords, Lashkar-i-Taibar, and all the rest live right over there. None of them have the option of packing up and leaving, none of them can afford to lose, and when they balance priorities their concerns in that region are always going to outweigh other kinds of concerns elsewhere.

Part of what that means is that none of these actors can really ever afford to make whatever it is we want from them their top concern. They need to worry more about each other than they ever need to worry about us.