BREAKING: Russia cuts off major supply route for U.S., NATO in Afghanistan

Not quite “Moscow is burning,” but a similar concept.

Attack on a NATO convoy in the Khyber Pass, June 2014. (Image: EPA, Gullamullah Habibi via NY Daily News)
Attack on a NATO convoy in the Khyber Pass, June 2014. (Image: EPA, Gullamullah Habibi via NY Daily News)

Well, this is bad.  This is a real, no-kidding move against U.S. and NATO interests, one that could significantly increase the peril to our forces in Afghanistan.  It creates the potential for things to go south very quickly for NATO troops.

That, in turn, increases the likelihood of divisions within NATO over the alliance’s Afghanistan commitment.  The divisions could well affect NATO’s posture on the political conflict with Russia.  And assuming the Obama administration is passive and ineffective in the face of this latest move by Moscow, the alliance will find an existential crisis – at least the beginnings of one – inescapable.

The basic story is that the U.S. and NATO have relied throughout the Afghan operation on supply routes that run through both Pakistan and the former-Soviet republics of Central Asia.  In 2008, the route called the Northern Distribution Network, or NDN, was consolidated, with a portion of it running through the territory of Russia.  Russia has benefited from transit fees, along with the Central Asian ‘Stans, and has been content to hold in reserve the pocket veto she possesses by agreeing to let our supplies flow through her transportation network. Continue reading “BREAKING: Russia cuts off major supply route for U.S., NATO in Afghanistan”

Asian mysteries: MH370 and the Iranian naval flotilla

Something amiss here.

 

Conundrum.
Conundrum.

We appear to have ourselves a bona fide mystery.  If anyone in authority knows what happened to the Malaysian Air 777 that took off on 8 March headed for China, he’s not talking.  The most recent revelations, as readers no doubt know, suggest that the plane continued flying for about 7 hours after the last official contact from the cockpit.

The UK Mirror produced a graphic depicting the 634 airfields where Continue reading “Asian mysteries: MH370 and the Iranian naval flotilla”

Why Obama’s Afghanistan strategy is bad faith with our troops

Paying the price of “Success without victory.”

Allen West made an appeal this past weekend that has gone viral on the Web, on behalf of Army 1LT Clint Lorance, who has been sentenced to 20 years for the “murder” of two Taliban scouts in Kandahar Province in 2012.

West refers – correctly – to the following untenable deficiencies in the conditions under which our troops have to operate in Afghanistan:

According to our ridiculous Rules of Engagement, soldiers in a combat zone are told to hold their fire unless there is evidence of hostile action or direct hostile intent. …   Continue reading “Why Obama’s Afghanistan strategy is bad faith with our troops”

U.S. in Afghanistan: Of course we negotiate with terrorists

Be afraid.

In a sign of the surreality into which we have descended under the Obama administration, the media have been reporting with a straight face that the U.S. will shortly begin talks with the Taliban in Doha, Qatar, and that President Obama calls the agreement for the talks an “important first step toward reconciliation.”

To recap: in October 2001, U.S. forces entered Afghanistan to depose the terrorist Taliban regime, which had given the 9/11 attackers some of their most important support.  From that day to this, the Taliban have not changed their stripes.  They are still terrorists.  They intimidate and murder Afghan and Pakistani civilians, in their quest to retain a brutal control over territory in both nations.  They regularly attack U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan.  Their interest in “reconciliation” is exactly what it has been since 2001: an interest in regaining control of Afghanistan, ideally without having to meet NATO forces in battle.

The announcement of talks with the Taliban coincided with a rocket attack by the Taliban on the U.S. air base at Bagram, in which four of our servicemen were killed.  The Taliban promptly Continue reading “U.S. in Afghanistan: Of course we negotiate with terrorists”

Are Russia and China ready to play a new Great Game?

Not as simple as it looks.

In all the discussion of the sanctions on Iran and what effect they’re having, analysts have forgotten a major factor.  The US, Iran, and Europe aren’t the only geopolitical actors in the world.  We don’t operate in a sealed vacuum in which the interests and intentions of others have no meaning.  And from the perspective of these others – especially Russia, China, and India – what the US is doing with sanctions could well be the beginning of an attempt to destabilize Iran on their doorstep.

The strategic drivers

Once Iran is destabilized, the picture gets murkier from the standpoint of a great Asian power. Continue reading “Are Russia and China ready to play a new Great Game?”