General Stanley McChrystal, who recently took command of the U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan, said that the coalition would prevail despite many challenges and that the struggle would be long and hard. Some military experts in Beijing believe that the reason Obama insists on stationing troops in this poor Middle Eastern country and is even increasing the number of troops, ignoring the tremendous losses and expenses over the years, is because he has his eye on this core strategic spot in the Eurasian continent, where he can effectively monitor the four nuclear powers – Russia, China, India, and Pakistan.
I don’t think this view holds true, as the strategic targets dreamed up by the military publications in the Mainland cannot possibly be accomplished by stationing tens of thousands of troops in an impoverished landlocked country.
An article in a Beijing military magazine speculated that only Afghanistan could monitor the four great nuclear powers at the same time. This is because Russia is located to the north of Afghanistan, China to the east, with India and Pakistan to the south. The article uses “monitor” in two ways: to monitor both the nuclear weapons development and to control the use of such weapons. However, it is obvious that the U.S. troops stationed in Afghanistan are unable to carry out these two great aims.
Let’s first look at Russia. It is a super-nuclear power, behind the U.S. It has the whole set of 3-in-1 nuclear weapons: land-based ballistic nuclear missiles are distributed over 1.7 million square miles in Europe and Asia, and most of the nuclear silos and missile TEL vehicles are thousands of miles away from Afghanistan. Russia’s ballistic missile submarine base is located in the Arctic Ocean, and completely unrelated to Afghanistan, which is in the south of Asia Minor.
As for China, although traditionally its nuclear silos are located in the northwestern and the southwestern regions, seemingly closer to Afghanistan, all the intercontinental missiles aimed at the U.S. are fired toward the east. How can Afghanistan, in the west, monitor them? The nuclear submarines that have real nuclear impact in secondary defense work along the coasts of the East Sea. In case of a war, there would be a need to break the island chain of defense in the Pacific Ocean. The U.S. troops in Afghanistan would only be able to watch.
Pakistan’s limited amount of nuclear weapons is enough for self-defense at best, and is in no way causing the U.S to worry. Moreover, Pakistan is the U.S.’s most important ally in the war against terrorism. The U.S. troops in Afghanistan mainly rely on the supplies that come from the harbors in Pakistan to Afghanistan by land. If Pakistan loosens its attack against the al-Qaeda forces in its northwestern borders, the U.S. troops will never win the war against terrorism in Asia Minor. This is why the U.S. turns a blind eye to Pakistan’s nuclear weapons.
As for India, the development of its nuclear weapons is a good means of check and balance against China, something that the U.S. is only too glad to see.