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October 27, 2010



M K Bhadrakumar:

NATO invites Russia to join Afghan fray

North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) officials have revealed their proposal with Moscow regarding a vastly stepped up Russian involvement in the Afghan war is in the final stages of negotiation and they are hopeful of formal agreement being reached at the alliance's two-day summit in Lisbon from November 19.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has announced his acceptance of the NATO invitation to attend the Lisbon summit, where he also scheduled to have a two-hour meeting with United States President Barack Obama. Aside Afghanistan, Medvedev's agenda includes Iran, a Russian proposal on a European security architecture and NATO's offer to cooperate with Russia on its missile defense system (which it is linking up with the US's).

Afghanistan promises to be the biggest vector of Russia-NATO cooperation to date. It doesn't come as surprise. A sort of romance was in the air though Moscow kept coyly disputing. Like in the Charles Dickens novel David Copperfield, we knew "Barkis is willing". Barkis fell for small things - Clara Peggotty making "apple parsties" or that she "does all the cooking" - but the smart Russian diplomats will drive a hard bargain with NATO before a nuptial knot is tied.

The Russian ingenuity aims at making cooperation with the NATO a lucrative business deal as much as a political embrace.

However, the timing is significant. NATO hopes to tango with Russia in Lisbon within a few hours of settling into a long-term partnership with Kabul under a status of forces agreement with the Afghan government that peers into the post-war era. In short, NATO is joining hands with Russia even as it consolidates military presence in Central Asia - an incredible turn to the great game.

But stranger things have happened. Moscow seems increasingly confident of the reset with the US. The big question is how Afghan President Hamid Karzai and a host of others - Iranians, Central Asians (especially Uzbeks), Chinese and the Afghans (especially Pashtuns) - view an emergent NATO-Russia condominium.


More so, as the Russian military personnel will be coming in at a time when non-Pashtun groups have begun secretly arming themselves fearing a Taliban takeover in Kabul.

The Taliban will take serious note of any form of Russian military involvement in the war and that can have serious implications for the Taliban's future cooperation with Central Asian militant groups. The Taliban viewed as something within acceptable threshold that Russia provided NATO with air and land supply and transit arrangements. But the threshold of the Taliban's tolerance may change, especially if the nascent peace talks fail to take off and the accent falls on the resistance.

Third, suffice to say that regional powers like China, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan will be curious about Russia joining hands with NATO bilaterally, sidestepping the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) or the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. In effect, the kaleidoscope of collective security in Central Asia undergoes an ominous tilt. NATO still views the CSTO and SCO disdainfully.

On balance, NATO and the US are net gainers. The timing is perfect. NATO ensures that Moscow acquiesces in its long-term military presence in the region. NATO has multiple motives. With the specter of defeat staring at it, NATO has nothing to lose. These are days when the alliance and the US in particular feel lonely when the dusk falls - and it's good to have company of friends who have moved about in the dark in the Hindu Kush. In any case, Moscow has been bending over backward to be helpful.

It is useful to keep Russia engaged instead of ignoring it lest it acted as a "spoiler". Moscow still wields influence over non-Pashtun groups opposed to reconciliation with the Taliban. Also, Pakistan no more objects to Russia's entry. Moscow made serious overtures to Islamabad to reach a modus vivendi over Afghanistan and it is paying dividends.

In practical terms, the northern supply route via Russian territory is a great boon for NATO with insurgents having stepped up attacks on the two routes running through Pakistan.

But the geopolitics of NATO-Russia tie-up isolates China and Iran. Conceivably, the US is pursuing this tie-up as a matter of regional policy. According to NATO officials, a separate agreement on limited Russian cooperation with NATO's European missile defense plans is also in prospect at the Lisbon summit, which is a symbolic demonstration of a security matrix struggling to be born. It seems the reset process with Russia that Washington mooted modestly as a course correction from the George W Bush era is beginning to impact on the geopolitical chessboard.

Captain Hate

Fouad Ajami weighs in on the scent of irresolution LUN.

A big American project, our longest war, is now waged with doubt and hesitation, and our ally on the scene has gone rogue, taking the coin of our enemies and scoffing at our purposes. Unlike the Third World clients of old, this one does not even bother to pay us the tribute of double-speak and hypocrisy. He is a different kind of client, but then, too, our authority today is but a shadow of what it once was.
Jack is Back!

I'd rather get this guy's views on Afghanistan than those of the Times or Post. LUN

Short like the rabid on the run.

Countering dawn at grok revile.


The Obama administration's plan to conduct a strategic review of the war in December has touched off maneuvering between U.S. military leaders seeking support for extending the American troop buildup and skeptics looking for arguments to wind down the nation's role.

In other words, yet another round of the process that Woodward describes in "Obama's Wars" as taking place during the first year of the administration. A process that left people wondering, "Didn't we just do this?"

Isolate Iran and China?  And Pakistan, heh, don't look now, but we're surrounded.

Dithering and withering.

Not Soylent.

Who lost Afghanistan?

Jack is Back!

Hey daddy,

Is this you? LUN [Scroll down to comments]


After spending the weekend with folks at NAS JAX and NS Mayport, I have no doubt that our miliary can do whatever our politicians will allow them to accomplish.

Their dedication, skills, and professionalism is extraordinary.

OTOH, it was striking how often our conversations touched on the ways their job is made more difficult by Congress and lobbyists.

Don't get me wrong--The pilots and crew of the Blue Angels and the Viper demonstration team are amazing almost beyond description. It was a bit silly, however, to hear ground-pounders talk about the effectiveness of combat support from them relative to that provided by helicopters and A-10's. They agree that the new F-35 is certainly prettier than the Warthog--it just isn't made to do the same job. The truly sad part was how resigned they were to "The way things work" in DC. The inspiring part was how determined they were to not let it affect them.

Consider this my unabashed, gushing thanks to those who are doing the jobs that need to be done no matter how many analysts, bureaucrats, politicians and lobbyists make it harder for them.



Did somebody say "A-10"?

Ignatz Ratzkywatzky

Cool picture TK. That 30mm is huge.

However back on topic, it's possible COIN can prevail in Afghanistan but doubtful.
I still believe the most effective, economical and efficient use of our armed forces is to smash our enemies and then leave them to their own devices unless and until they again threaten us; unless special situations obtain such as Western europe and Japan after WWII.
They are often cited as the way to mop up after a war but they were the exception and the rest of the world is the rule.
The case may not overwhelmingly be in the "rubble makes no trouble" camp and I understand the desire to win hearts and minds but it usually just doesn't work at all or is only temporary and in the meantime expends our personel and our resources on projects that historically are unlikely to succeeed in places like Iraq and Afghanistan.


Listening to Karzai and his brazen explanation of receiving bags of money from Iran, I'm tempted to join the rubble's no trouble gang.


All this goes on because Obama has signaled that, in his heart, he wants to pull out, but does not want to really get the blame for it, because that makes his Iraq critique look bad.

If it looked like the CiC had made up his mind, there would be no occasion for the bureaucratic war on how the real war is fought.



Yessir, that's me. Think that idea will fly?



BBC reports this morning that ">http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-11630355"> many species are endangered of extinction due to human practices, so a ">http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-11616229"> "Green Minister" needs to be appointed to help curb such extinction problems.

Then the very next story linked says that Scientists digging in ancient amber from India just discovered ">http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-11618809"> More than 700 new species of ancient extinct insects.

For some reason that just struck me as worthy of mention.


Can someone tell me if I should put Greg Miller in the same category as Walter Cronkite?


I'm going to see Greg Mortenson, author of "Three Cups of Tea" on Thursday. He believes, quite rightly in my opinion, that the way you defeat terrorism is through education that gives children individual choices what to do with their lives.

The purpose of the fighting is to give COIN the breathing room to work. Of course, if your CIC doesn't know what's worth fighting for or why, then the first step isn't schools, or COIN, or Predators... it's changing the administration to change its mind.

So are we losing the war in Afghanistan? We'll find out next Tuesday.


JiB, Good link and a great idea Daddy!


Ya gotta hand to Yankees fans, the stadium may be shiny and new, and it may be the most storied franchise in baseball, but you cant get the Bronx out of the Bombers or at least their fans.

So in the Cliff Lee fantasy that seems to be gripping the Empire state, please consider what Mrs. Lee says about the NY fans who stood above on the rail, and spit, pour beer and insults down on the players wifes and families sitting below them. "It was hard to remain dispassionate when that was going on."

Think that Mrs. Lee will have anything to say about where her husband toils next year? If yes, does a string of expletives preceed NY or between NY and Yankees?

Who knew the Yankees fans were on Texas' side!


The Warthog is a pretty, pretty plane.


...my pretties...

I'd always thought so, but this weekend I learned that the only way to really appreciate it is to watch it appear behind the backs of people shooting at you.

I was told to google "A-10 Iraq or Afganistan". Apparently there are some spectacular youtubes out there. While I haven't had a chance to find a link to a good one yet, I'll stretch my html-foo and embed or link when I do so.


I just found liveleak.com. Good guys (and their robots) blowing up bad guys. Great stuff.


Cliff Lee's wife being harassed at Yankee Stadium during the ALCS was dismissed by the Rangers ace as done by somebody who may have been over-served.

And it sounded like it wouldn't impact his decision to sign or not sign with the Yankees this coming off-season.

"You can't control 50,000 people and what they are going to do. There were some people spitting off the balcony on the family section and things like that. That's kind of weak but what can you do," Lee said. "Some people get a little alcohol in them and act inappropriate but it is what it is.

"I know it's been made into a big deal, but that's really all it is, just two or three or four people acting like fools. You can't group them all together. There is always going to be a couple of goofballs who think they have the right to do that stuff."

Asked if the treatment would impact his winter decision, Lee said, "No, I don't know the guy. It could be anyone. Who knows? Who cares? They are at home right now."


QE2 a ‘Ponzi scheme’, says Pimco’s Gross


Ah, I see glasater already posted a similar QE2 link on the Circling In thread. I'm late to the party.


It's OK PD.

Evidently Peter Orzag is getting in on the act.

Melinda Romanoff

Three hours of Congressional hearings, anyone?

Or just one very attuned panelist.

Which can be all slid over with one eentsy-weentsy thirty second video where one panelist asks just one simple question.

Pick one, if you dare.

Terry Gain

Impatience over the lack of progress in Afstan is understandable, yet lacking perspective given the descent of the United States, since 2006, into indecision, incompetence, thuggery, socialism and would-be pacifism.

Progress takes time. And fewer progressives. How do you export enlightenment to Islamic countries while pretending that Islamic cultures are as enlightened as our own? A few more Obama-terms and they will be.


Mel, Always interested!

Wanted to ask about 60 year old, ll,000 plus (with many rent controlled) apartments at apparently about twice what they were worth. Fannie/Freddie Winners.



And you believed the scripted response? Notice they did not put his wife on for her unscripted response.

But admit it, Cliff Lee was dissing you. "Those guys are at home now." As in he who laughes last laughs best.

Army of Davids

Obama has a troop surge in Afghanistan.

Patreaus is his general.

interesting.... Wonder what MSNBC has to say about it?


First get bin Laden..then worry about the Taliban.

I think we can win in Afganistan...just takes time and good strategy.. Get the people on our side...especially the women.


An internal Army e-mail obtained by ABC News indicates that the DNC has filed Freedom of Information Act requests for "any and all records of communication" between Army departments and agencies and each of the nine Republicans -- all of whom are widely mentioned as possible challengers to President Obama.




 solar motion light

The blunt intelligence assessments are consistent across the main spy agencies responsible for analyzing the conflict, including the CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency, and come at a critical juncture. Officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

The statement that was stated above in the sentences was such a relevant one. So let just read it again and make deeper understanding.

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