The return of great power geopolitics has transformed Afghanistan’s strategic circumstances, affecting both its future and the long-term interests of the United States. These conditions reinforce the enduring importance of Pakistan to America’s strategic flexibility, particularly in an era of renewed great power competition.
The relative strategic importance of Japan and India in Asia will shift considerably over the next decade and more, with India becoming more important and Japan less important. South Asia in 2020 shows we cannot predict the future perfectly, but if we take the time to assess the right trends and look forward, we might be able to grasp its contours.
While the United States is currently considered the world’s hegemonic power, several other states possess the potential to be superpowers in the making, such as Brazil, Russia, India, and China (the so-called BRIC countries). Assuming these great powers desire to better their positions, their respective strategies may either propel them into a leading international role or act as a hindrance to their ascent. The examples of China and India, in particular, serve as interesting cases to explore due to their potential to become superpowers as well as their vastly different approaches in world affairs.
The rise of China and the challenge that China poses to the United States is the defining trend around which American strategists orient their thinking about Asia. In Canberra, Delhi, and Tokyo, national security policymakers view China as the foremost national security threat facing their nation. This shared focus on China underpins the idea of the “quad,” a proposed security partnership between Australia, India, Japan, and the United States, which would represent a democratic bloc against Chinese hegemony in Asia.
It would be better if American leaders adopted toward both China and India the same perspective the 19th-century British held toward the upstart Americans. Be patient when China and India act impetuously, as most newly rising powers do. Be clear about where the lines are and enforce them consistently. And finally, practice cooperating wherever we can.
Growing concern over China’s burgeoning military might and seeming willingness to use it has caused many to re-evaluate U.S. Army doctrine and training. Counterinsurgency and asymmetric warfare have dominated Western military thought over the past decade of fighting. However, the escalating conflict in the South China Sea has many strategic thinkers considering how to fight a large-scale war once again. One nation often overlooked in the Pacific equation, though, is India and their emerging capabilities in space, and how those emerging capabilities may impact an armed conflict.