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Leon Panetta

Why Break the Relationship? (Part 1)

The US agenda with Pakistan pre-9/11 was, in order of priority viz (1) nuclear non-proliferation (2) terrorism and (3) drugs, with the Taliban government in Afghanistan figuring prominently in the last two issues. The reason for our nuclear assets and the means to deliver them is not complicated, we live in a very tough neighbourhood and our primary threat perception originates from India. Outnumbered and outgunned four to five times in conventional forces and without any strategic depth, we needed a India-specific non-conventional deterrent. India’s other neighbours will confirm that a policy of appeasement never works. According to Churchill, “an appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile – hoping it will eat him last”. Given the will to remain independent, we cannot afford appeasement.

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Drawdown in Afghanistan

US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta raised a storm signalling that US and NATO troops in Afghanistan will transition from a combat role to a “training, assist and advice” role by late 2013, a year earlier than the mandated 2014 schedule. Presidential candidate Mitt Romney had earlier railed against US troops fighting a war of independence for another nation, political expediency now dictated his calling Panetta’s withdrawal announcement “misguided” and “naïve”, “why should you tell the people you are fighting with the date you are pulling out your troops?” Echoing his sentiments US Senator John McCain said none of the US military commanders had recommended the drawdown, the US commander in Afghanistan, Marine General John R Allen, cautioning that “the drawdown schedule is more aggressive than anticipated”.

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