Monday, March 30, 2009

Comment on Belmont Club
"Yes we can and no, they can’t"


In my bones I think that we cannot keep 70,000 Americans in Afghanistan unless we have 30,000 Americans in Gwadar. Only seven problems with that: the Pakistanis, the Baluchis, the Pashtuns, the Iranians, the Americans, the Russians and the Chinese.

The Pakistani government is attempting to sew together a balloon while it is being shot full of holes from the inside. The odds on their welcoming an American base are between slim and none. Our best bet might be to tell "our friends" that we will need the base to evacuate them when everything collapses. Unfortunately "our friends" will not be in a position to deliver whatever we want from them.

The Baluchis are the regional population and have been subject to autonomy carrots being dangled by cynical outside powers (especially the Soviets) for decades. Why should they align with the soon to vanish Americans and play Kurds for a Day?

The Pashtuns are the 40 million plus tribe that thinks of Kandahar as its territory and have every intention of dissolving the governments in Pakistan and Afghanistan while looting American supply caravans and depots. It is what they do.

The Iranians think of Baluchistan and most of Afghanistan as break away bits of their empire. They are just over the border to the West and if you think that they can be trusted to protect a supply line for Americans then I want your bank account number, social security and credit card quick because you are about to get cleaned out and it might as well be me that profits.

The Americans are now under the command of Barack Obama. No one expects them to stay beyond the second bloodletting.

The Russians have been angling to get a warm water port in this area for over two hundred years. On the long term level that has not changed even if the demographic realities do not support those ambitions. On the more immediate basis an American base to the South reduces the value of the Russian controlled supply lines to the North. As noted before they have a long history of manipulating the tribal politics. The Great Game continues.

The Chinese happen to be the people who built the port, have their own ambitions and intentions with regard to the region and its mineral resources and have spent decades also in building ties in the region to counter the Americans, Russians and Indians.

The Indians could be the only natural friends that America has and I would be doubtful that they would trust Obama enough to stick their necks out for him.

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