Principles and Interests

In a volatile region of the world like South Asia, principled realism, not sloganeering, should guide U.S. policy.

Issue: Summer 2006

The National Interest: You were quoted describing the U.S.-Indian civil nuclear deal as "one of the most thoughtful approaches to foreign policy in the last 25 years."

Chuck Hagel: South Asia is potentially the most dangerous region in the world. All of the most dangerous and combustible elements are present. You have four nuclear powers: Russia, China, India and Pakistan, and a fifth aspirant, Iran. The Pakistan-Afghanistan border is the focal point for a good deal of terrorist-extremist activity; the Taliban has been reasserting itself and has re-emerged in that area. There are tremendous fault lines--cultural, historical, tribal and religious--which run throughout the region. One does not have to look much further than the question of Jammu and Kashmir and how it divides Pakistan and India.

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