PARAGRAPH, WORDS AND MEANINGS  

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TOPIC – America’s Asia policy

 

President Joe Biden has found himself in the uncomfortable position of facing not only the expected criticism from Republicans for his country’s hastybotched exit from Afghanistan but also brickbats from within the Democratic Party and among the broader American public. The killing of at least 13 U.S. troops and dozens of Afghan civilians in the bomb blasts last week underscored the apparent lack of planning behind the withdrawal despite prior knowledge of its approaching deadline. The chaotic, violent scenes at Kabul airport, undergirded by the deep irony of the Taliban’s unchallenged takeover of Kabul and other Afghan territories, have also no doubt stung U.S. policymakers, especially over comparisons to Saigon in 1975. How can Mr. Biden now hope to sell the big picture of Washington’s engagement in the South Asia region to his domestic political constituents in a way that limits the reputational damage to the White House? The first step will be, at long last, to shift the American policy paradigm on Afghanistan from a boilerplate approach toward institution building to recognizing the political complexities of governing a society where tribal and ethnic loyalties supersede western norms of rational decision making by government. In part, this means not demonizing or cutting ties with the Taliban before they have had an opportunity to settle into power and announce intentions for governing Afghanistan. There must also be recognition of the role that third parties are going to play, for better or worse. That must include everything from the Pakistani ISI’s shadowy dealings through proxies such as the Haqqani Network, China’s relentless push for access to economic projects, and India’s civilisational and ‘soft power’ links. In the big picture, there is an unsettling question for Washington to answer, on whether in persisting with the Trump era promise to pull U.S. troops out of Afghanistan; Mr. Biden will be able to reassure Asian allies and partners that the U.S. will not also play a diminished strategic role in the broader Asia region. To an extent, U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris’s Singapore and Vietnam trip was aimed at assuaging such concerns and shoring up enthusiasm for the rules based international order that has taken a beating. Yet, unless Washington follows up such summit meetings with ground level engagement, for example through the Quad or deeper bilateral initiatives with friendly democracies including India, Asian powers will be hard pressed to assume anything other than Washington’s indifference toward their interests. The danger for the West of considerable blowback that could emerge thus are at least twofold: first, Afghanistan’s cyclical transitions from western occupied territory to abandoned nation and ultimately a breeding ground for global terror outfits is well documented; and second, China will be only too glad to step into the breach should any new spaces be ceded in the pecking order of regional hegemony in Asia.                                                                           

 

WORDS AND MEANINGS

 

  1. Hasty (noun) –Proceeding from or indicating

Synonyms – Hurried, impetuous, heedless, imprudent, brash

Antonyms – Sluggish, tardy, abstemious, austere, ascetic

  1. Botched (adjective) –Spoiled through incompetence or clumsiness

Synonyms – Blundered, fumbled, goofed, erroneous, groped

Antonyms – Facile, wangled, adroit, dexterous, exquisite

  1. Stung(adjective) –Aroused to impatience or anger

Synonyms – Miffed, riled, prick, twinge, shredded

Antonyms – Pleased, moneyless, defended, on the wagon

  1. Boilerplate(noun) –Standard formulations uniformly found in certain types of legal documents or news stories

Synonyms – Mediocre,  banal, clich, hackneyed, lackluster

Antonyms – Astonishing, enchanting, flamboyant, fascinating

  1. Supersede(verb) –Take the place or move into the position of

Synonyms – Supplant, usurp, relieve, repudiate, abolish

Antonyms – Precede, saddle, sustain, stick, revive

  1. Relentless(adjective) –Unmoved by appeals for sympathy or forgiveness

Synonyms – Inexorable, unyielding, intransigent, obdurate, adamant

Antonyms – Intermittent, sporadic, benevolent, indecisive, ambivalent

  1. Assuaging(verb) –Make less intense

Synonyms – Allaying, appeasing, mollifying, assuasive, appeasement

Antonyms – Agitating, elating, emboldening, filliping, invigorating

  1. Breach(noun) –A failure to perform some promised act or obligation

Synonyms – Infringement, split, rupture, contravene, schism

Antonyms – Abidance, acquiesce, blockade, barricade

  1. Pecking(verb) –Strike or bite something with its beak

Synonyms – Nibble, smack, pasture, ancestry, gouging

Antonyms – Clutter, disrupt, muddle, gobble, disregard

  1. Hegemony(noun) – The dominance or leadership of one social group or nation over others

Synonyms – Ascendancy, sway, reign, paramountcy, suzerainty

Antonyms – Constraint, clampdown, coercion, lethargy, subjugation