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Afghanistan: A Chinese protectorate?
Afghanistan 2014: Should the UN declare Afghanistan a Chinese Protectorate?

 An honor guard performs at a ceremony held by Chinese President Xi Jinping for Hamid Karzai earlier this year.
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Date published: 12/29/2013

AS THE U.S. attempts to negotiate with Afghanistan's unpredictable president ["U.S. weighs cost of 'zero option' in Afghanistan," The Washington Post," Dec. 1], it is becoming increasingly likely that Afghanistan may fall into chaos before, during and after its next scheduled presidential election in April 2014. Such a failed nation state poses a threat, not only to U.S. interests, but also to other regional actors with a stake in the outcome, including Russia and China.

While the Obama administration frantically searches for a way to have "peace with honor," equivalent to Nixon's attempt to extradite the U.S. from Vietnam, an honorable solution may be found through the U.N.--just as it was very quickly found through diplomacy three months ago to avert a major powers conflict in Syria. (If you recall, to protect its own interests in Syria, Russia agreed to pull President Obama's chestnuts out of the fire in order to discourage a threatened U.S. strike.)

Following WWI, the League of Nations established protectorates to help govern failed states in the Middle East. The United Nations also established protectorates following WWII to help govern unprotected island chains in the Pacific.

By any diplomatic standard, Afghanistan is a failed state despite massive amounts of foreign humanitarian aid and military support. A United Nations declaration acknowledging that fact could pave the way for a U.N. resolution declaring Afghanistan to be a Chinese protectorate until such time as the Afghan people show the world they can peacefully and responsibly govern themselves. With a little imagination, such a U.N. resolution could be a win-win situation for all parties concerned.

How so?

The United States immediately stops negotiating with an untrustworthy Afghan president and, with its coalition partners, plans an orderly unilateral withdrawal by the end of 2014. Simultaneously, it enters into discussions with Beijing for a Chinese "Long March" into Afghanistan through its shared northern border. The Chinese agree to pull President Obama's chestnuts out of the fire by agreeing to a "peaceful" transfer of current U.S. airfields, hospitals, depots, and other infrastructure assets to occur during the summer of 2014--not to corrupt Afghan forces, but to representatives of the People's Liberation Army acting directly under U.N. auspices.

Coalition partners, most noticeably Great Britain, France and Germany, seize the opportunity to leave Afghanistan with a fair measure of national honor, and vote in the U.N. accordingly.

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Richard Soehngen is a retired Army officer with a master's degree in national security affairs. He lives in Spotsylvania County.