Archive for the ‘Obma’ Category

Afghan Supplies, Russian Demands, Obama’s Big Challenge

February 4, 2009

THE Taliban didn’t wait long to test Barack Obama. On Tuesday, militants bombed a bridge in the Khyber Pass region in Pakistan, cutting off supply lines to NATO forces in neighboring Afghanistan. This poses a serious problem for President Obama, who has said that he wants more American troops in Afghanistan. But troops need supplies.

The attack was another reminder that the supply line through Pakistan is extremely vulnerable. This means that the Obama administration might have to consider alternative routes through Russia or other parts of the former Soviet Union. But the Russians were unhappy about the Bush administration’s willingness to include Ukraine and Georgia in NATO, and they will probably not want to help with American supply lines unless Mr. Obama changes that position.

By George Friedman
The New York Times

Related:
American Troops In Afghanistan Out On A Limb?

Alex Nabaum

 

THE Taliban didn’t wait long to test Barack Obama. On Tuesday, militants bombed a bridge in the Khyber Pass region in Pakistan, cutting off supply lines to NATO forces in neighboring Afghanistan. This poses a serious problem for President Obama, who has said that he wants more American troops in Afghanistan. But troops need supplies.

The attack was another reminder that the supply line through Pakistan is extremely vulnerable. This means that the Obama administration might have to consider alternative routes through Russia or other parts of the

In addition to our guaranteeing that NATO will not expand further, the Russians seem to want the United States to promise that NATO forces will not be based in the Baltic countries, and that the United States will not try to dominate Central Asia. In other words, Russia wants the United States to pledge that it will respect the Russian sphere of influence in the former Soviet Union. They will probably want this guarantee to be very public, as a signal to the region — and the Europeans — of Russian dominance. This is one guarantee that Mr. Obama will not want to give.

There is also no certainty that countries in the Russian sphere of influence, like Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, would agree to let the United States use these routes without Russian permission.

Here is where Mr. Obama could use some European help. Unfortunately, that’s not likely to come soon. Many Europeans, particularly Germans, rely on Russia’s natural gas. In January, the Russians cut natural gas shipments to Ukraine. As much of the Russian natural gas that goes to Europe runs through Ukraine, the cutoff affected European supplies — in the middle of winter. Europeans can’t really afford to irritate the Russians, and it’s hard to imagine that the Germans will confront them over supply routes to Afghanistan. Pakistan, unfortunately, is hardly a reliable partner either.

So how can Mr. Obama reconcile the two goals of strengthening the American presence in Afghanistan while curbing Russian expansionism? The answer is to rely less on troops, and more on covert operations like the C.I.A. Covert operators are far more useful for the actual war that we are fighting (and they can carry their supplies on their backs). The primary American interest in Afghanistan, after all, is preventing terrorist groups from using it as a base for training and planning major attacks. Increasing the number of conventional troops will not help with this mission.

What we need in Afghanistan is intelligence, and special operations forces and air power that can take advantage of that intelligence. Fighting terrorists requires identifying and destroying small, dispersed targets. We would need far fewer forces for such a mission than the number that are now deployed. They would make us much less dependent on supply deliveries, which would help solve our Russian problem.

Winding down the conventional war while increasing the covert one will demand a cultural change in Washington. The Obama administration seems to prefer the conventional route of putting more troops on the ground. That would be a feasible strategy if supply lines to Afghanistan were secure. The loss of that bridge yesterday demonstrates very clearly that they are not.

 

George Friedman is the chief executive of Stratfor, a global intelligence company, and the author of “The Next 100 Years.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/04/o
pinion/04georgefriedman.html?_r=1

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American Troops In Afghanistan Out On A Limb?

February 4, 2009

Could American troops in Afghanistan be out on a limb?

It seems so.

Attacks on the U.S. and NATO supply lines from Pakistan continue.  The Taliban seems to have realized that attacking the supply route has less risk that facing U.S. and NATO troops in the field.

Pakistani trucks, bound for neighboring Afghanistan, wait for ... 
Pakistani trucks, bound for neighboring Afghanistan, wait for road open on the outskirts of Landi Kotal, a town close to the Pakistani tribal area Khyber, Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2009. The Khyber route was cut Tuesday when suspected militants set off a bomb that wrecked a bridge across a rocky gorge near the pass. The red metal bridge was twisted and partially collapsed at one end.(AP Photo/Qazi Tariq)

The U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan cannot follow the Taliban into Pakistan, which has resulted in U.S. drone attacks which Pakistan continues to protest.

Today, Kyrgyzstan’s government submitted a draft bill to parliament calling for the closing of the U.S. base at Manas that is key to the military campaign in Afghanistan. The U.S. Air Base has been especially important, both the State Department and Pentagon say….

And yesterday the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff — that just a week ago asked for more troops for Afghanistan to get to some 35,000 — got a Pentagon study recommending lower goals in Afghanistan.

Evan Thomas at Newsweek is already calling Afghanistan “Obama’s Vietnam.”

Lots to think about….

Related from CNN:
http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/asia
pcf/02/04/pakistan.NATO.trucks/index.html

http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/
02/03/kyrgyz.base/index.html

Related:
 Russia Boosts Aid To Neighbors; Wants U.S. Base, Influence Ended

 Pentagon study: US should pare Afghanistan goals

Can Obama succeed in the ‘land of the unruly?’ Afghanistan Won’t Be Easy

Obama’s Vietnam

Troubling Obama Trends Seen By Some In Military? Why Die For “Limited Goals” In Afghanistan?

Afghan Supplies, Russian Demands, Obama’s Big Challenge

Senior U.S. commanders are finalizing plans to send tens of thousands of reinforcements to Afghanistan’s main opium-producing region and its porous border with Pakistan, moves that will form the core of President Barack Obama’s emerging Afghan war strategy.
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From the Wall Street Journal:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123370741
624945711.html

http://cadillactight.wordpress.com/2009/02/04/th
e-geography-of-afghanistan/