Tragic earthquake offers hope for improved relations

News & Politics

First and foremost, it can't be overstated that in the course of the never-ending news cycle there's a tendency to become inured to the reality of each event. Before any discussion of politics it's crucial to stop and absorb the tragedy of the earthquake that struck from India to Pakistan to Afghanistan -- even if it is a nearly impossible and horrific exercise. Estimates of the dead have reached 40,000 and many of the hardest hit areas have yet to be reached.

For those who did survive the quake, there's food and clean water shortages; disease looms.

But believe it or not there are opportunities here, according to the Brookings Institution's Stephen Cohen. It happens that Kashmir, the contested land between Pakistan and India, was the hardest hit area. Politicians from both nations have rushed in to put their concerns on display as, according to Cohen, the lessons of Katrina were absorbed by politicians the world over.

For what it's worth, the two nations have put their nuclear-charged tensions on the shelf to provide aid to the region which will certainly benefit in the short term -- and perhaps in the long term as well.

As far as the U.S. is concerned, this could be an opportunity to reposition its foreign policy; to show the Muslim world that we are truly concerned the welfare of Muslims with an overwhelming display of aid.

Whether the political/ideological will is there or not is only a part of the issue. The other part, the irony, observes Cohen [AUDIO], is that our forces are so stressed due to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, that we're scarcely able to provide the help were we to summon the will.

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