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Moscow reacts to US buildup in Afghanistan

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  • Robert Sterling
    Please send as far and wide as possible. Thanks, Robert Sterling Editor, The Konformist http://www.konformist.com http://robalini.blogspot.com
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 11, 2009
      Please send as far and wide as possible.

      Robert Sterling
      Editor, The Konformist


      Moscow reacts to US buildup in Afghanistan
      By F. William Engdahl
      Online Journal Contributing Writer
      Feb 6, 2009

      Moscow has correctly assessed that the announced Obama troop buildup
      in Afghanistan has no relevance to the stated aim of combatting
      the `Taliban,' but rather with a new attempt by the Pentagon
      strategists to encircle both Russia and China in Eurasia in order to
      retain US global military dominance. It is not waiting for a new
      policy from Washington. Rather Russia is acting to secure its
      perimeter in Central Asia through a series of calculated geopolitical
      moves reminiscent of the famous Great Game of more than a Century
      ago. The stakes in this geopolitical power game could not be higher --
      the issue of world war or peace in the coming decade.

      Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman
      Admiral Mike Mullen are asking Obama to double US troop presence in
      Afghanistan. Both Gates and Mullen said that while they're thinking
      about the war in Afghanistan in terms of a three- to five-year time
      frame, their immediate goals are `unclear.' That's highly revealing.
      It is clear from the deliberate pattern over months, despite vehement
      protest from Pakistan's government, of US bombing attacks on villages
      inside Pakistan, allegedly to hit Taliban targets, that the US
      intends to widen the conflict to Pakistan as well. What could be the
      possible aim?

      Militarily, adding 30,000 more US troops to Afghanistan could never
      secure peace in that war-torn tribal region. It has been documented
      that many of the groups whom the US command labels `Taliban' are in
      fact armed bands controlled by local warlords, and not ideologically
      close-knit Taliban cadre in any sense. By labelling them Taliban,
      Washington hopes to convince its NATO allies such as Germany to send
      their troops to fight in an unwinnable war. Afghanistan presently has
      an estimated 40 percent unemployment and some five million living
      below the poverty line. It has been ravaged by more than four decades
      of continuous war.

      Adding a mere 30,000 more for a total of 60,000 US troops in
      Afghanistan where the current killing rate for US soldiers is running
      15 times above that in Iraq, is ludicrous. According to the official
      US Marine Corps counterinsurgency guidelines, to run a countrywide
      counterinsurgency strategy with the absolute minimum force levels
      required by US Army and Marine Corps doctrine, the US would need
      almost 655,000 troops, or an escalation roughly 600,000 troops higher
      than the force levels in the proposed Gates strategy. In fact the US
      strategy as it now appears seems to be a replay of the gradual
      escalation strategy the US pursued in Vietnam in the early 1960s.

      Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, whose foreign policy guidance, as
      that of her husband, is virtually indistinguishable from the Bush
      faction's, has just convened a dinner discussion of leading policy
      experts on Afghanistan and South Asia. It included Defense Secretary
      Gates, CENTCOM commander Gen. David Petraeus, and National Security
      advisor Gen. James L. Jones. It follows the appointment of former
      Ambassador, and hawk, Richard Holbrooke as the State Department's
      Special South Asia Envoy.

      In January 2008, more than a year ago, present National Security
      adviser to Obama, General James Jones headed a private Afghan Study
      Group which recommended drastic steps to `revitalize' the war in
      Afghanistan. Revitalize a war whose goals have not even been clearly
      formulated? Not surprisingly, Moscow suspects another agenda is at
      work when Washington puts such heavy concentration strategically on
      the issue of the forgotten "war on terror" in Afghanistan, a region
      with no discernable direct national security implications for the
      United States or NATO member countries. No conceivable combination in
      Afghanistan, a failed state if there ever was one, could threaten a
      war of aggression abroad. The tribal warlords around President Karzai
      seem to be struggling just to maintain their heroin export flows at
      record levels.

      Moscow's response

      Not surpisingly, the Kremlin has reacted to the US plans for Central
      Asia. The president of Kyrgyzstan just flew to Moscow where he
      received promises of debt relief and billions of dollars in aid.
      Kurmanbek Bakiyev was told he would get a write off of Kyrgyzstan's
      $180 million debt to Russia, a $2 billion discounted loan and $150
      million in financial aid from Russia. On the occasion, President
      Bakiyev announced plans to close a US air base crucial to the war in
      Afghanistan. Kyrgyzstan has been home to the only remaining US base
      in the strategically crucial region to Afghanistan's north.

      After the Bush administration declared its "war on terror" and
      announced plans to strike Afghanistan to root out the arch evil Osama
      bin Laden from the caves of Tora Bora in 2001, Washington secured air
      force basing rights in both Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan.

      At about that same time, it covertly began preparing to unleash a
      series of US-financed `regime change' Color Revolutions in Georgia
      (The Rose Revolution, in November 2003) and Ukraine (Orange
      Revolution in 2004). It tried and failed in Belarus as well as
      Uzbekistan. A glance at a map of Eurasia makes clear the pattern of
      those pro-NATO efforts was to militarily encircle the territory of
      Russia, especially as at the time Washington believed it had the
      government of Kazakhstan in its pocket with military training
      agreements and Chevron's large oil investment in Tenghiz.

      Once Washington announced in January 2007 that it would station
      strategic missiles and advanced radar systems in Poland and the Czech
      Republic to `defend against rogue missile attack from Iran,' as I
      detail in my soon-to-be-released book, Full Spectrum Dominance:
      Totalitarian Democracy in the New World Order, then-President Putin
      told the Munich Wehrkunde conference in February 2007 that the true
      target of the US `missile defense' strategy was not Iran but Russia.

      Similarly, today the US insistence the Afghanistan military buildup
      is about the Taliban, rings equally hollow. That's clearly why Moscow
      is acting to secure its borders from a US militarization of the
      entire Central Asian region. Oil and gas pipeline routes are a major
      consideration, including US wishes to build a natural gas pipeline
      from Turkmenistan to India that would deprive Russia's Gazprom of a
      vital component of its current gas supply.

      The prime objective of the Afghan escalation however, is to draw a
      new `iron curtain,' this one between the two formidable Eurasian
      powers with the only capacity to challenge future US global
      dominance: Russia and China. Should the two former rivals firm up
      their cooperation not only in raw materials and industrial economic
      trade, but as well in the military cooperation sphere, as Obama
      campaign foreign policy adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski has stated, the
      combination would present a devastating threat to America's global

      Now the decision, aided by the help of generous Russian financial
      concessions, to abruptly cancel US Air Force landing rights at
      Kyrgyzstan's Manas Air Base deals a devastating blow to US Great
      Game's grand strategy to encircle the key powers of Eurasia -- China
      and Russia.

      When Washington tried to use its various NGOs to foment a Color
      Revolution in Uzbekistan in 2005, the country's not-so-democratic
      president, Islam Karimov, demanded the US evacuate its air bases,
      repatriate US Peace Corps volunteers, and most NGOs were shut down
      and foreign media banned. Karimov moved to firm his frayed ties with
      Moscow at the time. Today Washington is reported to be feverishly
      trying to reestablish itself in Uzbekistan, but the sudden
      cancellation of base rights in Kyrgyzstan deals a new devastating
      blow to the entire Eurasian encirclement Great Game strategy.

      With the major NATO supply routes to Afghanistan going through
      Pakistan from the Port of Karachi, and strikes on those supply lines
      increasing by the day, the Pentagon is eagerly searching to find
      alternative supply routes to the North. Militants just blew up a key
      bridge in Pakistan's strategic Khyber Pass.

      The securing of alternate Afghan supply routes is at least the
      official explanation. Unofficially, it would also provide the pretext
      to beef up US military presence in Central Asia. Now, with the loss
      of Manas Air Base, a gaping hole in the Washington Great Game `Mach
      IV' has been left.

      To further complicate Washington's strategy, Moscow is moving to firm
      up defense cooperation ties across former Communist states in Central

      A Central Asia answer to NATO?

      The announcement by Kyrgzystan President Bakiyev that he was
      cancelling US basing rights came during his visit to Moscow February
      4 for a summit meeting of the formerly moribund Collective Security
      Treaty Organization (CSTO), a security grouping comprising Armenia,
      Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.
      They reportedly agreed to set up a collective rapid reaction force
      to `counter military aggression, international terrorism, extremism,
      crime, drug-trafficking and deal with emergency situations.' Clearly
      the US plans for a major military build-up in Afghanistan were high
      on the agenda as well.

      The CSTO was established in 1992 to serve as a basis for maintaining
      some dialogue between Moscow and her former Soviet republics after
      their declared independence, Russia's so-called `near abroad.'

      Today the level of talks is taking on a quite new seriousness as US
      encirclement operations clearly are seen as a threat to all the
      Central Asian republics. The CSTO lists its major security `threats'
      as Pakistan and Afghanistan. The decision to create a truly
      collective force with a permanent location and a united command would
      propel the alliance to a new level.

      Russian President Medvedev announced the decision to form the
      collective regional CSTO Rapid Reaction Force: `I would like to
      emphasise the importance of this decision to establish rapid reaction
      forces. It's aimed at strengthening the military capacity of our
      organisation.' He claimed the new response units would `not be less
      powerful than those of NATO,' adding that `the reason behind the
      creation of the collective forces of operative functioning is a
      considerable conflict potential which is accumulating in the CSTO
      zone.' Translated from the Russian, that means the US strategic build-
      up in and around Pakistan and Afghanistan.

      At the same time as it hosted the CSTO summit, Russia hosted a
      meeting of the so-called Eurasian Economic Community in Moscow,
      EurAsEC. That group consists of Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan,
      Russia and Tajikistan as full members. EurAsEC, established in 2000,
      also involves Armenia, Moldova, and Ukraine which hold observer

      They discussed establishing a $10 billion joint assistance fund to
      deal with the effects of the global economic crisis, as well as
      establishing an international hi-tech technology exchange center and
      implementing various innovative projects in member countries.

      Russian President Dmitry Medvedev captured the vulnerability of
      Washington's exposed hypocrisy in Afghanistan when he told the press
      after the Moscow summit, `We are ready for full-fledged and equal
      cooperation on security in Afghanistan, including with the United
      States.' That of course is the last thing the Pentagon strategists
      wish to hear.

      F. William Engdahl is author of "A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil
      Politics and the New World Order" (Pluto Press) and "Seeds of
      Destruction: The Hidden Agenda of Genetic Manipulation"
      (www.globalresearch.ca ). His new book, "Full Spectrum Dominance:
      Totalitarian Democracy in the New World Order" (Third Millennium
      Press) is due for release in late Spring 2009. He may be reached via
      his website: www.engdahl.oilgeopolitics.net.
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