Even As The Indian-Pakistani Conflict Escalates, Trump And Other World Leaders Fail to Focus On It
The Trump Administration’s foreign policy agenda appears to be somewhat coalescing around the Israeli-Pakistan Conflict, Russian entanglement in geopolitical affairs, and China’s emergence as a global economic power. Looking at his willingness to speak with Kim Jong-Un, it would seem the President is pursuing some sort of strategy that might give him added leverage over China as well as help resolve the Korean War. Trump’s policies toward Venezuela, Syria, and Iran also suggest the President is, in part, positioning himself to counter Russia’s attempts to reemerge as a global power while undoing what he views as mistakes of the Obama Administration. Even if one can assume the President is pursuing some grand foreign policy strategy, his attention and the attention of other world leaders is needed elsewhere. World leaders are failing to take lead on a crisis that represents an imminent global threat.
The public policy agendas of politicians are a fixture of politics, but real-world conditions often require political leaders to put aside their own public policy priories. Political unrest in Venezuela is not a threat to the world. The same is true of the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians as well as Russia’s threatening behavior. The need to address trade issues cannot trump more pressing geopolitical crises. Escalating tensions with North Korea matter due to the potential for a nuclear war, but the threat is no more serious or imminent than it has always been. Quite frankly, none of these issues that have captured the attention of the Trump Administration matter as much as the escalation in tensions between India and Pakistan. The struggle between nuclear rivals India and Pakistan over Kashmir has become far more pressing thanks to repeated exchanges between the militaries of these nuclear rivals in recent weeks.
Where the threat of terrorism should unite the Indians and Pakistanis in their pursuit of security and stability, growing tensions have compelled Indian and Pakistani leadership to lash out at each other by accusing their revivals of supporting terrorism Because war between these nuclear powers has long been a reality, escalation could convince military leaders that the use of nuclear weapons is necessary. While the extreme case of an Indian or Pakistani invasion/victory could scare Pakistan or India into using their nuclear weapons is most obvious and not likely, security forces might decide a strategic use of their nuclear arsenals could crush the capacity of the enemy to respond to such an attack. To the military mind, nuclear bombs save lives. They save military resources, require little sacrifice, and nullify almost all of a faceless enemy’s defense. They compress years of bloodshed, agony, and terror into mere moments of loss. In short, they are an efficient, sanitary, and humane means of waging war.
Even if the skirmishes between the armed forces of India and Pakistan do not result in a nuclear exchange, an escalation of current hostilities or a protracted conflict between India and Pakistan would threaten regional security and global stability. Adjacent to Pakistan and India, the likes of China and Afghanistan, which also share strained relations with the two, would assuredly also find themselves entangled in an emerging conflict. The economic impact of an Indian-Pakistani conflict alone would be enough to undermine the economies of Asia and push refugees into neighboring countries. Agitated over the failure of the second Trump-Kim summit, North Korea may even capitalize on the opportunity to strike with impunity. To boot, the US, Russia, and other world powers would be compelled by their alliances, relationships, and economic interests to entangle themselves into an Indian-Pakistani conflict. It is, unfortunately, very easy to imagine several scenarios that result in a regional war that could turn into a world war.
Quite frankly, the policies and practices of both India and Pakistan have helped militant groups flourish. These past and present misdoings are being used as an excuse to escalate the conflict between these nuclear revivals. While war leaves no one free of guilt, the failure to overcome the “blame game” and unite around the threat of terrorism only helps terrorism to flourish. It also escalates tensions between rival factions. Instead of becoming the common enemy, terrorism becomes the reason rival factions fight. Unfortunately, this degenerative dynamic is why wars between rival factions continue for decades. It is also why conflicts between rival factions escalate to armed conflict. Regrettably, mutual hatred is so ingrained in the Indian and Pakistani cultures that they cannot resolve their issues and unite to defeat their actual security threats. They need the help of outsider mediators and world leaders to prevent their historic conflict from escalating to a far more serious threat. World leaders need to make the Indian-Pakistani conflict a foreign policy and geopolitical priority.
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