There are few issues in the political world right now more vexing than the problem of Afghanistan and Pakistan, the so called AfPak issue. In fact, it’s probably not an exaggeration to say that the outcome of the AfPak issue over the coming decades could have a profound effect on the development and stability of our globalizing world. It’s an incredibly complex issue, one that at times seems to have nothing but bad options attached to it. And recent events in the Swat Valley of Pakistan have only heightened the concern in capitals around the world. Nuclear-tipped Pakistan and Stone Age Afghanistan are a combustible pair and the last thing anyone wants is for that dangerous fuse to be lit, at least not more than it already is. Recently I’ve been doing some reading on this issue, and I wanted to share some of it with the readers of this blog.
Here are the links to some interesting thought and analysis:
Thomas Barnett – I had the chance to interview Barnett recently. It was a great conversation which will be featured in the just-printed new issue of EnlightenNext magazine. Barnett is a fascinating geopolitical strategist and has lot to say about all kinds of issues, including this one. We actually spoke about the AfPAk issue, but that part didn’t make it off the cutting room floor. So here’s a link to his recent column covering the subject.
Robert Kaplan – I love to read Robert Kaplan. He almost defines what a realist is. He’s brilliant, and has a wonderful sense of history. As an idealist and optimist myself, I often don’t agree with all of his conclusions or prescriptions, but that doesn’t mean I don’t value his rich and informative perspectives on all kinds of subjects. He’s also a wonderful writer. Here is one of his latest—it’s called “The Revenge of Geography.”
Steve McIntosh – At EnlightenNext, we’re always interested in exploring what the new field of integral philosophy might have to say about real world issues like AfPak. Steve McIntosh, a friend and colleague as well as a contributor to EnlightenNext, is one of the brightest minds in that emerging field. He is also one of the best at applying integral insights to political issues. He has that rare gift to bridge the high-minded philosophical and the down-to-earth practical. Here is a recent column that was reprinted in EnlightenNext magazine and originally published on worldsecuritynetwork.com, titled “Winning In Afghanistan,” outlining his thoughts. Interestingly enough, he shares some of the same ideas with Kaplan and Barnett, even though they come from completely different backgrounds and contexts.
Finally, I just read a fantastic book, which I would recommend to anyone who wants to find out more about this subject. It’s called Ghost Wars, and it’s a history of the CIA’s involvement in the region from the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan up until 911. It’s not really prescriptive but very informative. The author, Steve Coll, did an amazing amount of research, and obviously talked to just about everyone he possibly could. It’s a four-dimensional view of a subject that is so often presented in two.