MEGATRENDS: Emerging Threats    
 Emerging Threats3 comments
Emerging Threats
Commentary: Kremlin trumps NATO
Published: Feb. 6, 2009 at 10:54 AM

WASHINGTON, Feb. 6 (UPI) -- Elevated to the rank of "major non-NATO ally" by President George W. Bush, Pakistan is now deemed too dangerous for the hundreds of U.S. and NATO supply trucks that keep allied forces fighting against the Taliban in Afghanistan. In the latest attack against the NATO lifeline, 11 trucks and 13 containers were demolished outside Peshawar, near the northern end of the 600-mile route from the port of Karachi to the Khyber Pass. This followed the attack and collapse of a key bridge near the Khyber Pass, which backed up some 1,000 trucks all the way to Karachi. Normally, some 600 supply trucks a day cross the border into Afghanistan.

Kifayatullah Jan, the manager of Port World Logistics, a major North Atlantic Treaty Organization contractor, said his drivers were ready to pack it in when Pakistani insurgents torched 106 containers. "No protection, no business," lamented Jan. NATO and U.S. forces in Afghanistan require 70,000 containers of supplies per year, or about 75 percent of their total needs in fuel, food, equipment and construction materials. On any given day, there are 3 million gallons of fuel on Pakistani roads destined for allied forces in Afghanistan. In some cases, the Taliban extracted payments of $1,000 per vehicle at the point of a gun. Helicopter engines valued at $13 million were also hijacked. Taliban fighters gave Pakistani drivers certificates guaranteeing their trucks were requisitioned, not stolen.

The southern route through Pakistan was kept open while negotiations proceeded with Russia and the former Soviet Muslim republics -- known as the "Stans" -- for an alternate northern route. Supplies would be unloaded onto trains in German ports and taken by rail through Poland, Belarus, Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and then by truck into Afghanistan, a distance five times longer than the 1,000-kilometer journey from Karachi to Kabul. Hardly an incentive for NATO and U.S. staying power against the Taliban in Afghanistan.

It doesn't require an overwhelming effort of geopolitical imagination to see the potential for Russian troublemaking along the northern supply route. For the time being, the Medvedev-Putin tandem has made clear the U.S.-NATO operation against the Taliban in Afghanistan is also in Russia's interest. The men in the Kremlin are anxious to prevent Islamist extremism spreading from Afghanistan into the Stans. They also like the idea of America's military machine pinned down in Iraq and Afghanistan. After all, the Soviets spent 10 years fighting the mujahedin guerrillas -- and were forced into a humiliating withdrawal six months before the fall of the Berlin Wall. They wouldn't mind seeing superpower America suffer the same fate. When they want to express displeasure, they can turn NATO's northern route into a Pakistan-like nightmare; all they have to do is invoke a railroad strike or a major railroad accident to cause difficult breathing on NATO's Afghan supply lung.

The five-to-10-year commitment in Afghanistan, as seen by some members of the Obama administration, loses much of its allure as the United States switches supply lines from the southern route through Pakistan to the northern route through Russia. Top Pentagon planners say we no longer can afford the luxury of democratic nation-building in Afghanistan. Instead, says a recommendation to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, all resources should be thrown against the Taliban's privileged sanctuaries in Pakistan's tribal areas while at the same time de-emphasizing longer-term goals for bolstering democracy.

Moscow's primacy in its "near abroad" is back in business. After taking $150 million a year from the United States for base rights at Manas, Kyrgyzstan changed its mind and asked the United States to leave. Russian pressure came in the form of $2 billion in credits and $150 million in aid. But the United States said no deal, we're staying. About 1,000 Americans are based there, and 15,000 U.S. personnel are rotated in and out of Afghanistan via Manas every month.

Local Kyrgyz newspapers, in disinformation operations presumably paid for by Russian operatives, have accused the United States of using Manas for everything from drug trafficking to storing nuclear weapons to planning to attack Iran. The Russians also have enlisted local intellectuals to advocate an accelerated U.S. exit.

Some NATO allies have pointed out that a shorter and more efficient route would be through Turkey and Iran into Afghanistan. Besides diplomatic engagement, the Obama administration is yet to decide on a new Iranian policy. Meanwhile, the mullahs, pumped up by their successful launching of a tennis ball-sized satellite into orbit, have no intention of quitting their quest for a nuclear weapon.

Both the Iranian regime and Russia aided the original U.S. invasion of Afghanistan on Oct. 7, 2001, to overthrow the Taliban and destroy al-Qaida's bases and training camps. Some Europeans say, albeit sotto voce, Iran's hatred of the Taliban could be harnessed again, but with more carrots than sticks in the diplomatic mix. Obama's yet-to-be-announced senior hand to handle Iran is Dennis Ross, longtime Middle Eastern negotiator, who favors more sticks and fewer carrots. And Ross still believes President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or his father superior, Supreme Religious Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in the holy city of Qom, can be talked out of their nuclear ambitions.

Vice President Joe Biden, accompanied by national security adviser James L. Jones, CENTCOM Commander Gen. David H. Petraeus and Richard Holbrooke, U.S. special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, flew to Germany this weekend for the annual Munich Conference on Security Policy. Top-tier Russian and Iranian delegations were also in attendance. Offline topside conversations provided an opportunity to defuse the return of East-West tensions. Stay tuned.




7 Feb 2009 @ 10:09 by vaxen : Freedom...
Freedom is more than not being in prison (although America incarcerates more people than any nation on earth). Freedom is more than driving a car, or taking a vacation, or being able to choose your place of residence, or attending a sporting event. People in totalitarian regimes have, for the most part, been able to do the equivalent of all that.

The freedoms upon which America was founded are outlined in our Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights. The first principle of freedom is that freedom is a gift of Almighty God. As God is the Giver of life, He is also the Grantor of liberty. This was plainly stated by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness . . ."

Ask the average American today, Where do our rights come from? Most will look at you funny and then blurt out, "From government." And, of course, this is evidently the same opinion held by most of today's politicians. To them, freedom is whatever civil government says it is. Yes, I am saying it: most politicians have a God-complex. And, unfortunately, it seems that most Americans today are willing to go along with this calamitous charade.  

7 Feb 2009 @ 18:39 by vaxen : Emerging Threats
Published: Feb. 3, 2009 at 10:01 AM

WASHINGTON, Feb. 3 (UPI) -- As key policymakers abroad survey the attempts to stop and reverse the self-inflicted crumbling of the world's largest economy, they have reached startling conclusions that are out of sync with President Obama's foreign policy objectives.

1. Pakistan. There is no military solution in Afghanistan, confided a top-ranking national security official in Islamabad, not for attribution. He explained the war will have to end with a political solution for a coalition government. This should include "moderate" Taliban fighters along with major Pashtun tribal leaders and President Hamid Karzai's "successor." He also confided security forces can barely cope with Taliban insurgents in the Swat Valley, in Pakistan proper, let alone with the Taliban's safe havens in Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas. This makes the Afghan war unwinnable. The more U.S. unmanned Predators bomb FATA targets, the more Taliban jihadis cause mayhem inside Pakistan, one of the world's eight nuclear powers. The Afghan war is inflaming Pakistani public opinion. The creation of a modern state in Afghanistan is mission impossible. Pakistan, therefore, would feel more secure with reformed Taliban in charge in Kabul, Taliban who would formally renounce all ties with al-Qaida, as well as the more pernicious aspects of the medieval theocracy that banned the education of girls. Further military operations should be designed to put pressure on the Taliban to compromise and to eradicate their al-Qaida allies. U.S. forces in Afghanistan will double to 60,000 by summer -- at a cost of $70 billion a year -- bringing the total of allied forces to just fewer than 100,000 for a mountainous country the size of France.

2. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The three allied countries whose parliaments have authorized their troops in Afghanistan to be in harm's way against Taliban fighters -- Britain, Canada and the Netherlands -- want out by the end of 2011. U.S. military commanders believe the Britons "will stay with us, even if it takes several more years." London insiders are less sanguine. Lord West of Spithead, former First Sea Lord and now Prime Minister Gordon Brown's security minister, dropped a bombshell last week by declaring publicly Britain's intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan had fueled global radicalism against the United Kingdom. Foreign Secretary David Miliband urged we all drop the term "war on terror," which he said was deceptive and misleading.

3. Other NATO members. The alliance's head man, Netherlands' Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, who steps down at NATO's 60th anniversary summit in April, is urging the 26 member nations to contribute more troops to Afghanistan. So far no takers. Those with sizable numbers of troops on the ground are hamstrung by caveats against fighting -- notably, Germany, France, Spain, Italy -- and governments skeptical that a narco-state, where corruption from top to bottom is a world record, can be reformed. NATO defense ministers authorized their troops in Afghanistan to undertake "aggressive" counter-narcotics missions against the Taliban's chief source of revenue. There was no follow-through as national parliaments objected.

4. Afghan National Army and Police. Underfunded and years behind schedule in their ability to replace Western forces with any credibility.

5. Middle East. Israel's leading newspaper, Haaretz, has published the equivalent of the Pentagon Papers of Vietnam War fame, information the Israeli state had been hiding for years on the covert expansion of settlements in the West Bank. These were clearly designed to make a Palestinian state in the occupied territories impossible. After reading the voluminous secret file, U.S. mediator George Mitchell may well conclude the endgame of a Palestinian state is unattainable. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Haaretz reported, "steadfastly refused to release the report" as "publication could endanger state security and harm Israel's foreign relations." An analysis of the data "reveals that in the vast majority of settlements -- 75 percent -- construction, sometimes on a large scale without the appropriate permits or contrary to the permits that were issued. In 30 major settlements extensive construction of buildings and infrastructure (roads, schools, synagogues, yeshivas and even police stations) has been carried out on private lands belonging to Palestinian West Bank residents." The database, Haaretz reported, does not conform to Israel's official position on the Foreign Ministry Web site, which states: "Israel's actions relating to the use and allocation of land under its administration are all taken with strict regard to the rules and norms of international law. Israel does not requisition private land for the establishment of settlements." It just takes it, says Haaretz.

According to Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics, there are now 290,000 Jews who live in 120 official settlements and dozens of outposts established throughout the West Bank over the past 41 years. That's up 50,000 settlers in the West Bank since Gaza's 8,500 were forcibly removed by the Israeli police in 2005 to make room for a Palestinian authority and where elections were then held that sealed Hamas' victory over Fatah.

In realpolitik, Israel's leaders clearly have no intention of pulling 100,000 settlers out of what are now known to be illegal settlements, where Palestinian land was seized arbitrarily, to make a Palestinian state possible.

As far as anyone can peer over the geopolitical horizon, Obama's two principal foreign policy initiatives -- a win in Afghanistan for a democratic government and a final peace treaty between Israel and a Palestinian state -- are will-o'-the-wisp. Newsweek's cover story this week is headlined "Afghanistan: Obama's Vietnam."

A more promising avenue holds the key to regional stability. Engaging Iran secretly at the highest level, much the way Henry Kissinger opened the way to Beijing's Forbidden City for President Nixon, would seem to be a more profitable avenue for George Mitchell's diplomatic dexterity. Iran's influence in the Middle East -- Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Gaza, the Maliki government in Baghdad, diplomatic clout in Oman, Qatar, Dubai -- is not negligible.

;) Sy sit n huppel in my knuppel. Fin Du Siecle!

The New Civilization Game or the scientific application of mediocrity and her sisters avarice and vice neith the facade of a do gooders convention. Welcome all, just don't think...

"We must not allow other people's limited perceptions to define us." --Virginia Satir  

8 Feb 2009 @ 18:34 by vaxen : Provocation
The following comments can be found in the 'members only' chat rooms of NCN. People wonder why I've taken a dim view of the person making them? Well, she tries to blame me for lots of things here at NCN. She and her cohort don't like being challenged in any way and if you do challenge them a string of bile will come forth so hot and heavey that it would make your head swim if you were unprepared for their invective. We call it Black PR wherein a target individual, group, or nation is repetitively lied about and smeared to the point where the perps hope that said target will be driven to inappropriate actions and or suicide or leave or be in someway destroyed. The benefit for the perp? Could be many, depends on the case. Mostly here you'll find them 'gloating.' that gloating is what 'keyed me in' to the possibility that they are simply being used as puppets (Suppressive Persons) to do the work of a vile creature we call Black Static Thetan.

Took me awhile to figure this out but now I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that his is so. We have ways and means of dealing with such shadow beings and we know their stealt and tech. So it will be just a matter of time before the perps begin percolating a tune of a different color. We wish them well and that they might be freed of the curse of being enslaved to such forces.

martha:. . . 2009-02-08 17:08:30
I wonder what you learned sitting in jail in Israel Vax. Obviously getting off drugs than didn't work for you. Were you treated nicely in Israel? How do they treat drug dealers like you? Since you still hate I assume you are afraid to heal. what drugs were you dealing over there?

Bar & Grill
martha:. . . 2009-02-08 17:12:33
So Vax is your hatred of Israel tied into you being caught over there dealing drugs?

Rebuttal, in this case, is not entirely necessary but I must say that neither Martha nor her cohort know anything at all about my time in YiSRa-EL and that continued slander of this nature will be dealt with in the way that YiSRa-EL always deals with her enemies.

Shalom Uvracha, Hayeem, Hen, Wa Hesed, Ve Rahameem Aleichem, Ve Al Col YiSRa-EL.


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