An Asian Answer in Afghanistan

HONG KONG – In short order, Afghanistan has seen copies of the Koran burned at the United States’ Bagram airbase, 16 people – including children – killed by a US soldier, and, just last week, brazen insurgent attacks on Kabul that claimed the lives of eight policemen and three civilians. Now it has come to light that some American troops like to pose for photographs with the body parts of their enemies.

These events have brought into sharp focus the futility of the conflict in Afghanistan. Finally, the US and NATO are doing some soul-searching.

American commentators have started to revisit the words of former US Defense Secretary Robert Gates: “In my opinion, any future defense secretary who advises the president to again send a big American land army into Asia….should ‘have his head examined’...” But many in Asia could have given that advice a long time ago – especially about Afghanistan.

After all, Afghanistan is in Asia, sharing borders with Pakistan, Iran, and China. Yet the US and its NATO allies have neglected to consult experts from Asian countries, with the possible exception of India. In 2010, for example, US President Barack Obama should have conferred with Asian authorities before deciding to send more troops.