Wednesday, January 28, 2009

USA & Russia – In Love Again?

Does the US and Russian agreement to transship so-called non-lethal military goods through Russia and Central Asia to Afghanistan signal another detente? Recent Russian US relations have been tense over Russian military intervention in Georgia and the US effort to extend NATO along Russian borders to include missile defense systems in the Czech Republic and Poland. So this recent cooperation in the form of a 20 January agreement this year comes as a surprise.

The fact the agreement was signed on the day Obama took power is not a coincidence. This was a good-bye kiss by the Russians for GW Bush who did not want to credit Bush for improved relations. Despite US stiff-upper-lip pronouncements to the contrary, the insurgent attacks on US supply lines that extend from the Pakistan seaport of Karachi overland through Pakistan across the the Khyber Pass into Afghanistan have been interdicted more and more effectively.

Hundreds of trucks loaded with supplies, humvees, and helicopter engines have been destroyed in Pakistani depots. Trucks moving through the Khyber Pass have been hit, sometimes halting supplies for days. Pakistani drivers have been threatened with death if they continue to move supplies for the US/NATO and subsequently refuse to drive. Logistics are the Achilles Heel to any extended military campaign; 75% of supplies to US/Nato Forces in Afghanistan go through Pakistan. Intended US build up of 30,000 troops makes this choke point even more dangerous.

Russians see an advantage to the agreement. They are concerned about the Taliban extending the insurgency into Central Asia and want to stem narcotics from Afghanistan. Central Asian countries and Russia will sell food, construction materials and fuel to the US and pump profitable trade into their sluggish economies. Now, Russia also has real leverage on the US to keep hands off the Ukraine, Georgia and Eastern Europe. The Russians also enjoy the fact that US/NATO, with forces pinned in Afghanistan, bleed and spend while they profit politically and economically.

This new logistic route has its own problems for the US besides the political costs. The route combines sea, rail and truck transport over longer distances than the current Pakistani route. It is more extended, more complicated as it involves several countries and is far more costly. The vulnerability of the cargo to attack is high in the north of Afghanistan as it must be moved by trucks from Central Asia. The Russians were never able to protect this supply route reliably when they fought and lost in Afghanistan.

If you must fight a foolish war in godforsaken Afghanistan, the best logistic route is through Iran, through the Iranian port of Chabahar located in the Gulf of Oman. It is the shortest route into the Afghan area of operations. Iran has a big interest in Afghanistan and has many bones to pick with the Taliban. Iranians assisted the US in the initial US attacks on Afghanistan, but GW Bush's war in Iraq stopped the US/Iranian cooperation against the Taliban.

Thirty percent of the Afghans are Tajiks and related to the Persian tribes. Sixteen per cent of the of the Afghan population is Shia. The Dari language is the lingua franca in Afghanistan and is closely related to the Farsi Persian dialects. Smart US policy and strategy is to work with Iran against the Taliban – a lot more intelligent than with the Pakistanis who have a vested interest in the Taliban success.

It has been rumored that Dennis Ross is being considered as a special envoy to Iran under the Obama special envoy system. If this is true, forget any rapprochement with Iran and the US. Ross is an American Jew who as a previous US envoy to the Israeli/Palestinian crisis was predictably unsuccessful finding a just peace – as the cofounder of the America Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), what would one expect from him. It is the biggest pro-Israeli lobbyist group in the US; the fix was in.

Is it not strange that most US strategic problems always return to the US one-sided support of Israel. Last time I checked, Israel wanted to bomb Iran. If Ross gets the appointment, we know that Obama has learned little and it is business as usual in the Middle East... at least he did not send him back to negotiate with the Jews and Palestinians.

As far as the recent Russo/American marriage, it was one of convenience. The US paid a steep dowry to sleep with an ornery Russian bear. Colonel Robert E. Bartos USA Ret.


Anonymous stats said...

The reach of the Israeli/jewish lobby is nothing short of breathtaking. Although there maybe a jew or two you personally like, you can understand why there was suspiscion of the jews in Europe. There is often a certain generalized truth in stereotypes. Blacks like fried chicken and basketball. And jews are aquisitive, clanish and conspiratorial.


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