Archive for the 'Russia' Category



Obama, Russia and the Future of Georgia

BY Herschel Smith
5 years, 6 months ago

Significant attention is being given to Mr. Obama and his administration’s position on engaging the Muslim world.  But little attention has been given to what may be a very important exchange over the Caucasus.  We have extensively covered Russia’s interest in its near abroad, including in Rapidly Collapsing U.S. Foreign Policy, where we observed that the ceasefire with Georgia:

… has left the strategically important Russian base in Armenia cut off with no overland military transit connections. The number of Russian soldiers in Armenia is limited to some 4000, but during 2006 and 2007 large amounts of heavy weapons and supplies were moved in under an agreement with Tbilisi from bases in Batumi and Akhalkalaki (Georgia). At present there are some 200 Russian tanks, over 300 combat armored vehicles, 250 heavy guns and lots of other military equipment in Armenia – enough to fully arm a battle force of over 20,000 (Nezavisimoye Voyennoye Obozrenie, August 20, 2004). Forces in Armenia can be swiftly expanded by bringing in manpower by air transport from Russia. Spares to maintain the armaments may also be shipped in by air, but if a credible overland military transit link is not established within a year or two, there will be no possibility to either replace or modernize equipment. The forces will consequently degrade, undermining Russia’s commitment to defend its ally Armenia and Moscow’s ambition to reestablish its dominance in the South Caucasus

Russia hasn’t lost interest in the Causasus in spite of the overwhelming worship of the new administration on the world wide stage.  They have a long attention span and have kept their eye on the ball, so to speak.  At The Captain’s Journal we have recommended the full engagement of the Caucasus region, including transit of logistics through Georgia to neighboring Azerbaijan; from there the supplies would transit across the Caspian Sea to Turkmenistan, and from there South to Afghanistan.  This approach would have a dual affect.  First it would address the issue of interdiction of supplies through the Khyber region in Pakistan by the Taliban, and second, it would aid and benefit Georgia and assure the world that the West supports its sovereignty.

But perhaps Georgia shouldn’t have sent troops to Iraq to support Operation Iraqi Freedom.  The U.S. doesn’t have such a long memory when administrations change.  Russia is playing nice when it comes to logistics, in that it has “offered to discuss allowing the US to ship military cargoes across its territory to Afghanistan in a significant step seemingly aimed at building bridges twithWashington” (sic).  On another front, the Russians are hailing comrade Obama.

Russia’s Dmitry Medvedev hailed Barack Obama as “my new comrade” Thursday after their first face-to-face talks, saying the US president “can listen” — even if little progress was made on substance.

The Russian president contrasted Obama as “totally different” to his predecessor George W. Bush, whom he blamed for the “mistake” of US missile shield plans fiercely opposed by Moscow.

Obama agreed to visit Moscow in July after his talks with Medvedev on Wednesday on the sidelines of a G20 summit in London aimed at fixing the battered world economy.

“I believe that we managed to establish contact. But Moscow lies ahead. I cannot say that we made much progress on the most serious issues,” he told reporters, adding: “Let’s wait and see.”

“I liked the talks. It is easy to talk to him. He can listen. The start of this relationship is good,” he said, adding: “Today it’s a totally different situation (compared to Bush)… This suits me quite well.”

So Dmitri Medvedev is happy, something that may be a sign of trouble.  Continuing:

“Today from the United States there is at least a desire to listen to our arguments,” he said, adding that: “Such defence measures should be carried out jointly “between Washington and Moscow.”

The missile defence plan was “a mistake that the previous US administration is responsible for. Many of my European colleagues also believe this,” the Russian leader added, without specifying who.

Obama, speaking on Wednesday, admitted US-Russian ties had cooled, saying: “What we’ve seen over the last several years is drift in the US-Russian relationship.

“There are very real differences between the United States and Russia, and I have no interest in papering those over. But there are also a broad set of common interests that we can pursue,” he said.

One area of difference is Georgia — Russia sent troops and tanks deep into the ex-Soviet republic last August in response to a Georgian military attempt to retake the breakaway region of South Ossetia.

Medvedev made clear later Thursday that Moscow’s views have not changed — in particular about Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili — however he feels about Obama.

“Everything that has happened, I will tell you frankly, that the leader of Georgia is responsible for everything. That is my direct and honest and open opinion.

“A lot of people had to pay for the mistakes of one man. We love and appreciate the Georgian people. But I do not want to have any relations with President Saakashvili.”

A catchphrase to remember: “jointly between Washington and Moscow.”  So there you have it – the price for the happiness.  Georgia had best be preparing to defend itself or have a puppet dictator installed who is subservient to Moscow.  Same for the Ukraine, and other nations in the Russian near abroad.  As for any possible U.S. reaction to this potential aggression?  Well, we wouldn’t want to “cool” our new-found happy relations with Moscow.

It’s Time to Engage the Caucasus

BY Herschel Smith
5 years, 7 months ago

We have closely followed the implementation of the Taliban strategy (pointed out here at The Captain’s Journal one year ago and one half year before it began in earnest) to shut down lines of logistics via the Khyber region and through the Torkham Crossing.  The closing of the Manas Air Base in Kyrgyzstan has occurred due to entirely different reasons than enemy strategy.  Or has it?  Russia is asserting itself in what it considers to be its near abroad, and has essentially bribed the officials in Kyrgyzstan to close down the Manas Air Base.  This makes the U.S. utterly dependent on logistical lines that run through Russia to Central Asia.  Of course, this places the U.S. in a precarious position regarding membership of Georgia and Ukraine in NATO, as well as missile programs in Poland and elsewhere.  If the U.S. is dependent on Russia for logistics, then it is much more likely that Russia will be able to assert itself in the region with U.S. weakness because of dependence on Russian cooperation for logistics.

For this reason The Captain’s Journal had recommended approximately two months ago that the U.S. work harder on a potential logistical lines through the Caucasus region, specifically, from the Mediterranean Sea through the Bosporus Strait in Turkey, and from there into the Black Sea.  From the Black Sea the supplies would go through Georgia to neighboring Azerbaijan.  From here the supplies would transit across the Caspian Sea to Turkmenistan, and from there South to Afghanistan.

If this line of supply came to pass, then this leaves the issue of refueling for air supply and transit through the region unaddressed, since this was the primary mission of the Manas Air Base.  Stephen Blank, professor at the US Army War College, has written that of the potential replacements for Manas, none appear to be viable.  But unaddressed in Blank’s commentary is the potential to base air support in either Azerbaijan or Turkmenistan.

Returning to lines of logistical supply, as we recently reported, there are ongoing talks concerning the Caucasus region regarding the very routes we have discussed.  Furthermore, trial runs of supplies are ongoing to test these routes.

… the Air Force is working on contingency plans to move the tanker fleet to bases in the Persian Gulf if it loses basing rights to Manas.

The Azeri capital, Baku, is emerging as a leading candidate to substitute for Manas, should the Kyrgyz government refuse to reconsider its withdrawal of the basing rights.

American and Azeri officials said that the focus of the discussions on Monday and Tuesday was a surface route that would move supplies from the Georgian port of Poti on the Black Sea and overland to Baku, where they would cross the Caspian Sea to Aktau, Kazakhstan, and then overland across Uzbekistan into Afghanistan.

A second potential route would land cargo at the Caspian seaport of Turkmenbashi, in Turkmenistan, for transit into Afghanistan. Talks on supply routes have also been held with officials in Tajikistan, another neighbor to the north of Afghanistan.

One American official said the first “trial run” of cargo containers on the new route was conducted within the last two weeks, with shipments of lumber sent from Turkey to Georgia to Azerbaijan, and then onward toward Afghanistan.

So this report notes not one, but two potential lines of logistical supply over land, as well as the potential replacement of the Manas Air Base with Baku, Azerbaijan.  At this point it might be that the Russians backpedal on disallowing Manas to continue to function (thus the recent equivocation in the news), since U.S. involvement in the Caucasus (i.e., their near abroad) is the last thing they want.

But this logistical transit route is viable.  First to Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijan is more developed than Turkmenistan, and is obviously the center of gravity of both of the potential logistical lines discussed above.  Baku would be almost ideal for an air base to support refueling operations for U.S. aircraft supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.  Turkmenistan is far less developed, and the only viable route for supplies would go through Ashgabat from the port city of Turkmenbashi, and then South to Kandahar or East to Kabul.

Much ink has been spent spilled over the human rights record of Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, and both are undoubtedly repressive regimes, although there is evidence that Turkmenistan is slowly and gradually changing for the better.  There is also significant corruption in Turkmenistan.  But there is also indication that Turkmenistan is opening up to economic cooperation.  They have expressed an interest in becoming an associative partner in the ECO (Economic Cooperation Organization), and have recently opened their air space to NATO supply flights to Afghanistan.

The U.S. has a history of moral preening when it comes to working with unsavory dictators and political regimes, but this preening must be put aside in favor of functionality and logistics.  Georgia, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan have all expressed an interest in working with the U.S. to enable lines of logistical supply to Afghanistan.  This plan is, after all, what provided more than 40% of the supplies to Russian troops during their campaign.

Moreover, a stronger presence in the Caucasus region is in the interests of the U.S. in both the near and long term.  Stronger ties will serve to ensure continued supplies to U.S. troops in Afghanistan, cement critical relations in this region and Central Asia, and provide a counterbalance to Russia’s increasing hegemony in their near abroad.  It is the right time and circumstances to engage the Caucasus.

Postscript: The Captain’s Journal thanks Mr. Bob King, Instructor, U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, Department of Joint, Interagency and Multinational Operations, Leavenworth, for the encouragement to write this article.

Caucasus Talks on Logistical Transit Routes for Afghanistan

BY Herschel Smith
5 years, 7 months ago

Ever since The Captain’s Journal warned a year ago that logistical lines through Khyber would be targeted as part of the Taliban campaign, we’ve covered and analyzed the progress (or lack thereof) in developing new lines of supply.

There have been occasional problems further South in Pakistan, and while a smaller percentage of supplies goes to Kandahar from the port city of Karachi than through Khyber to Kabul, this recent attack may mark the beginning of a new phase of the Taliban campaign to interdict supplies in the South.

Gunmen in Pakistan on Tuesday torched a truck carrying supplies for NATO forces in neighbouring Afghanistan, leaving its driver and a helper wounded, police said.

Gunmen snatched the truck in Baluchistan province’s Soorab, 200 kilometres (120 miles) south of Quetta, and set it ablaze after wounding the driver and his helper, senior police official Khaild Baqi told AFP.

“The injuries to the driver were serious, but his helper’s condition is stable,” Baqi said.

Police chased the attackers and traded fire with them, but the search for them was continuing, he added.

Baqi said some 150 truckers parked their vehicles to protest against the attack but that the authorities were negotiating to persuade them to continue their journeys.

NATO and US-led forces in landlocked Afghanistan are hugely dependent on Pakistan for supplies and equipment, around 80 percent of which is transported through Pakistan.

Nobody claimed the responsibility for the attack.

Baluchistan has been rocked by a four-year insurgency waged by tribal rebels fighting for political autonomy and a greater share of profits from the region’s natural resources.

The province has also been hit by attacks blamed on Taliban militants.

On the other hand it may be the local insurgency rather than the Taliban, although Karachi already has elements of the Tehrik-i-Taliban, and Quetta is the home of the senior leadership of the Afghanistan Taliban.  Either way, this is not a good sign.

In other news, it appears that someone has been reading The Captain’s Journal.

US military officials have held talks with government and business representatives from Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan on the transport of supplies to Afghanistan, the US embassy in Baku said Tuesday.

The two days of talks in Baku, which concluded Tuesday, were aimed to “coordinate transportation issues that will facilitate the shipment of supplies to US, NATO and partner military forces operating in Afghanistan” through the Caucasus region, the embassy said in a statement.

It noted that the talks focused on “non-lethal supplies” and that “no military personnel are involved in the actual transportation of supplies through the Caucasus.”

The Asia Times recently summarized why we have been opposed to supply routes that go through and/or rely on Russia.

Moscow has every reason to encourage NATO to become more and more dependent on the northern corridor … a Russia-Iran understanding over the Afghan transit routes enables Moscow to exploit NATO’s dependence on the northern corridor, which, in turn, compels the alliance to be sensitive about Russia’s security interests and concerns and at the same time paves the way for Russia to play a bigger role in the stabilization of Afghanistan, which of course suits Iran.

Nothing good comes from the logistical transit routes through Russia.  To be clear, we had recommended approximately two months ago that the U.S. work harder on the Caucasus route, which is as follows.  First, supplies (including military supplies) would be shipped through the Mediterranean Sea through the Bosporus Strait in Turkey.  And from there into the Black Sea.  From the Black Sea the supplies would go through Georgia to neighboring Azerbaijan.

From here the supplies would transit across the Caspian Sea to Turkmenistan, and from there South to Afghanistan.  A larger regional map gives a better idea of the general flow path.

The problems are numerous, including the fact that the supplies would be unloaded in Georgia to transit by rail car or road, unloaded from rail or truck to transit again by sea, and finally loaded aboard rail cars or trucks again (after passage across the Caspian Sea) in Turkmenistan to make passage to Afghanistan.

But removal of the logistical lines from Russian control places Iran, the missile shield, and NATO membership for Georgia and the Ukraine back on the table while we still supply our troops in Afghanistan with ordnance and supplies.  The U.S. is not “over a barrel,” so to speak.  And the DoD and State Department should keep reading The Captain’s Journal.

Category: Logistics

Rapidly Collapsing U.S. Foreign Policy

BY Herschel Smith
5 years, 8 months ago

Iran is quickly advancing towards becoming a nuclear state.  In troubling developments in air power, Iran can now deploy UAVs, and Russia may have supplied Iran with new air defense systems, including their long range S-300 surface to air missiles.  If they haven’t, the system is being used as a bargaining chip by Russia.  There are reports that they have refused to sell the missile system, but responding to the Israeli plan to sell weapons systems to Georgia by saying that Moscow expected Israel “to show the same responsibility.”  In the first case, Iran is armed with an air defense system that would make an attack against its nuclear assets much more difficult.  In the second case, Russia has used this potentiality to weaken Georgia and prime it for another invasion.

Pavel Felgenhauer at the The Jamestown Foundation has recently published a commentary entitled Russia’s Coming War with Georgia.  The commentary very smartly connects the isolated Russian base in Armenia – which in itself is further demonstration of Russian intentions of control over its “near abroad” – with the need to control Georgia.    Says Felgenhauer, “The ceasefire last August has left the strategically important Russian base in Armenia cut off with no overland military transit connections. The number of Russian soldiers in Armenia is limited to some 4000, but during 2006 and 2007 large amounts of heavy weapons and supplies were moved in under an agreement with Tbilisi from bases in Batumi and Akhalkalaki (Georgia). At present there are some 200 Russian tanks, over 300 combat armored vehicles, 250 heavy guns and lots of other military equipment in Armenia – enough to fully arm a battle force of over 20,000 (Nezavisimoye Voyennoye Obozrenie, August 20, 2004). Forces in Armenia can be swiftly expanded by bringing in manpower by air transport from Russia. Spares to maintain the armaments may also be shipped in by air, but if a credible overland military transit link is not established within a year or two, there will be no possibility to either replace or modernize equipment. The forces will consequently degrade, undermining Russia’s commitment to defend its ally Armenia and Moscow’s ambition to reestablish its dominance in the South Caucasus.”

Concerning the timing of the potential invasion, Felgenhauer observes:

While snow covers the Caucasian mountain passes until May, a renewed war with Georgia is impossible. There is hope in Moscow that the Georgian opposition may still overthrow Mikheil Saakashvili’s regime or that the Obama administration will somehow remove him. However, if by May, Saakashvili remains in power, a military push by Russia to oust him may be seriously contemplated. The constant ceasefire violations could escalate to involve Russian servicemen – constituting a public casus belli. The desire by the West to “reset” relations with Moscow, putting the Georgia issue aside, may be interpreted as a tacit recognition of Russia’s right to use military force.

With the addition of the Biden pronouncement that the U.S. would “press the reset button” with Russia, the U.S. is now in the throes of a logistical dilemma.  On the one hand, the missile defense program for NATO states is meant as a deterrent for a potential Iranian nuclear and missile based military capability.  On the other hand, the current administration is seen as likely to jettison the whole project.

The U.S. is now beholden to Russia for logistical supply lines to Afghanistan.  General David Petraeus has visited numerous European and Central Asian countries recently, including Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.  Supplies are soon to leave Latvia bound for Afghanistan.  But the common element in all of the logistical supply lines are that they rely on Russian good will.  This good will exists as long as the missile defense doesn’t, and the missile defense was intended to be used as a deterrent for Iranian nuclear ambitions.

Alternative supply routes have been suggested, including one which wouldn’t empower Russian hegemony in the region, from the Mediterranean through the Bosporus strait, into the Black sea, and through Georgia to neighboring Azerbaijan.  From there the supplies would transit across the Caspian Sea to Turkmenistan, and from there South to Afghanistan.  An alternative to the air route from the recently closed Manas Air base is sea transport to India, rail or truck to the Indian-controlled Kashmir region, and then air transport to Kabul.  But none of these options has been pursued.  The current administration is locked into negotiations that empower Russia.

Pakistan President Zardari has observed, and correctly so, that Pakistan is in a state of denial concerning the threat posed by the Taliban, yet rather than eliminate the threat, the strategy has been to make peace deals with the Tehrik-i-Taliban and plead for the same financial bailout being offered across America, saying that in order to defeat the Taliban Pakistan needs a “massive program,” a “Marshall Plan” to defeat the Taliban through economic development.

Certainly, some of the foreign policy problems were present with the previous administration, from the failure to plan for logistics for Afghanistan, to support for Musharraf’s duplicitous administration, assisting the Taliban by demure on the one hand while money was received with the other.  But the currents appear to be pointing towards a revised world opinion of what the U.S. is willing to sustain on behalf of “good relations,” and the current administration’s prevarications appear to be going headlong into numerous dilemmas.

We wish to use the missile program in Europe as an bargaining chip to avoid the reality of an Iranian nuclear program, while the Iranian supreme has said that “relations with the U.S. have for the time being no benefit to the Iranian nation.”  Russia, who is assisting Iran in its military buildup, is unimpressed because we have planned for no other option for logistics for Afghanistan except as dictated by Vladimir Putin.  The best that we can come up with, so far, is to forestall the planned troop reduction in the European theater, a troop reduction that is needed to help fund and staff the war against the global insurgency.

Pakistan’s Zardari figures that if the administration is willing to give away on the order of a trillion dollars, they can play the game of “show me the money” like everyone else, from Russia over logistical lines to Afghanistan to over-leveraged homeowners in the U.S.

Israel figures that all of this points to throwing their concerns under the bus, and thus they have launched a covert war against Iran, a program that is unlikely to be successful, pointing to broader regional instability in the near term.  Hassan Nasrallah, leader of Hezbollah, has said that they will acquire or have acquired anti-aircraft weapons.  While they have stood down over the war in Gaza, they are apparently preparing for more of the same against Israel.

The current administration has attempted to befriend Syria, while at the same time the USS San Antonio has interdicted Iranian weapons bound by ship to Syria, intended for Hezbollah or Hamas.  Most of this has occurred within less than two months of inauguration of the current administration in Washington.  It may prove to be a difficult four years, with unintended consequences ruling the day.

Update: Welcome to Instapundit readers and thanks to Glenn for the link.

U.S. Supplies Shrinking in Afghanistan

BY Herschel Smith
5 years, 8 months ago

Military.com has an important article on the logistical state of affairs in Afghanistan.

The milk is now pulled from the mess hall by 9 a.m., to ration the limited supply.

At the Camp Phoenix base store nearby, the shelves look bare. There’s no Irish Spring Body Wash, no Doritos, no Tostitos Scoops, no Bayer Aspirin.

“We’re having the same problems all over Afghanistan,” said Randy Barnes, who manages warehouses for the Army & Air Force Exchange Service, which operates stores at many of the bases where U.S. troops are deployed in the war on terror here.

For the Soldiers at Camp Phoenix, about 650 of whom are from the Illinois National Guard, the missing supplies underscore what senior military officials have been saying for months: U.S. and coalition troops must find new routes to supply what will be a rapidly growing force in Afghanistan, ones that avoid the treacherous border areas of Pakistan where convoys have been ambushed.

Supplying an army in any war is crucial; it’s not just bullets and bombs, but everything from fuel to lettuce, that must be shipped in by the ton and the truckload. And a country like Afghanistan — landlocked, mountainous and with few good roads — poses enormously difficult challenges even without attacks by militants.

Gen. David Petraeus, the chief of U.S. Central Command, announced late last month that the military had reached transit deals with Russia and several Central Asian states to the north of Afghanistan, to provide an alternate route from Pakistan. But it’s not yet clear whether any new route would be able to absorb the heavy traffic.

“It is very important as we increase the effort in Afghanistan that we have multiple routes that go into the country,” Petraeus said …

The supply-route challenge is politically sensitive; as long as the U.S. and coalition troops depend on Pakistan to move supplies, it’s difficult to be too critical of its government’s help in the war on terror. Some in Washington have questioned Pakistan’s commitment.

But a route through Russia and neighboring countries is not necessarily a long-term solution either. The over-land route is much longer and more expensive, and dealing with repressive regimes in Central Asia also could pose political dilemmas.

This is a significant story on the state of affairs of logistics in Afghanistan, rounded off by a stupid comment at the end of the quote.  There are no political dilemmas with which to deal.  Ending every repressive regime is not in the bag of tricks that we should expect the U.S. military or the State Department to perform.  Repressive regime or not, we should make allies with the countries with whom we must deal.

This is true – except for Russia, who is still, in our estimation, an enemy posing as a friend.  It won’t take much for them to revert from being a temporary friend to being an erstwhile friend.  Maybe the switch has already begun.  When General David Petraeus recently stated that agreements had been reached for transit of supplies via Russia, he was quickly corrected by Russia.

The shocking intelligence assessment shared by Moscow reveals that almost half of the US supplies passing through Pakistan is pilfered by motley groups of Taliban militants, petty traders and plain thieves. The US Army is getting burgled in broad daylight and can’t do much about it. Almost 80% of all supplies for Afghanistan pass through Pakistan. The Peshawar bazaar is doing a roaring business hawking stolen US military ware, as in the 1980s during the Afghan jihad against the Soviet Union.

within a day of Petraeus’ remark, Moscow corrected him. Deputy Foreign Minister Alexei Maslov told Itar-Tass, “No official documents were submitted to Russia’s permanent mission in NATO [North Atlantic Treaty Organization] certifying that Russia had authorized the United States and NATO to transport military supplies across the country.”

A day later, Russia’s ambassador to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, added from Brussels, “We know nothing of Russia’s alleged agreement of military transit of Americans or NATO at large. There had been suggestions of the sort, but they were not formalized.” And, with a touch of irony, Rogozin insisted Russia wanted the military alliance to succeed in Afghanistan.

They are playing hard ball, as we predicted that they would.  For Afghan logistics, The Captain’s Journal has strongly recommended the route that passes through the Bosporus Strait, Georgia to neighboring Azerbaijan, across the Caspian Sea to Turkmenistan, and from there South to Afghanistan.  So what do the Russians think about our proposal?

Russian experts have let it be known that Moscow views with disquiet the US’s recent overtures to Central Asian countries regarding bilateral transit treaties with them which exclude Russia. Agreements have been reached with Georgia, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan. Moscow feels the US is pressing ahead with a new Caspian transit route which involves the dispatch of shipments via Georgia to Azerbaijan and thereon to the Kazakh harbor of Aktau and across the Uzbek territory to Amu Darya and northern Afghanistan.

Russian experts estimate that the proposed Caspian transit route could eventually become an energy transportation route in reverse direction, which would mean a strategic setback for Russia in the decade-long struggle for the region’s hydrocarbon reserves.

The Asia Times gives us the summary of the Russian position.

Medvedev made it clear Moscow would resist US attempts to expand its military and political presence in the Central Asian and Caspian regions. He asserted, “This is a key region, a region in which diverse processes are taking place and in which Russia has crucially important work to do to coordinate our positions with our colleagues and help to find common solutions to the most complex problems.”

This is political speak for the fact that Russia wants to ride the coattails of the American taxpayer and fighting men to importance in the region, and will resist any attempt of the U.S. to expand logistical routes.  Russia will be just fine with the U.S. solving its Islamic militant problem in Chechnya by fixing Afghanistan, but wants the U.S. out of the region as soon as this is done.  Another way of saying it is that the U.S. needs to hurry its preparations for logistical routes through the Caspian region.

Underscoring their commitment to hegemony in the region, Russia snared a new Naval base on the Black Sea, courtesy of Abkhazia.  Time is wasting, and the Soldiers are running out of milk, Aspirin and soap.

Prior:

Will Russian-Afghan Logistics Dictate Foreign Policy?

New Afghan Supply Route Through Russia Likely

U.S.-Georgia Strategic Partnership

Will Russian-Afghan Logistics Dictate Foreign Policy?

BY Herschel Smith
5 years, 9 months ago

We have raised the issue of Georgian and more broadly European involvement in the search and decision-making for a new logistics line for Afghanistan.  As to the proposed supply line through Georgia, we observed that:

… interestingly, this leaves us vulnerable yet again to Russian dispositions, even with the alternative supply route.  Georgia is the center of gravity in this plan, and our willingness to defend her and come to her aid might just be the one thing that a) kills the option of Russia as a logistical supply into Afghanistan, and b) saves Georgia as a supply route.  Thus far, we have maneuvered ourselves into the position of reliance on Russian good will.  These “thawed relations” might just turn critical should Russia decide again to flex its muscle in the region, making the U.S. decisions concerning Georgia determinative concerning our ability to supply our troops in Afghanistan.  Are we willing to turn over Georgia (and maybe the Ukraine) to Russia in exchange for a line of supply into Afghanistan, or are we willing to defend and support Georgia for the preservation of democracy in the region and – paradoxically – the preservation of a line of supply to Afghanistan?

Stratfor weighs in on the logistical maelstrom (at the time of writing of this article, the Stratfor analysis was still available through Google organic search, but not by direct URL for non-registered users).

With little infrastructure to the east, the Pentagon is forced to go north, into Central Asia. Though some fuel is shipped to Western forces in Afghanistan from Baku across the Caspian Sea, there is little indication that existing shipping on the Caspian could expand meaningfully. Additionally, there would be the challenge of transferring cargo from rail to ship back to rail on top of the ship-rail-truck transfers that are already required in Afghanistan.

But even if Caspian shipping was not a problem and if there was sufficient excess seaworthy capacity, there remains the problem of Georgia. Though politically amenable at the moment, it is unstable; furthermore, with some 3,700 Russian troops parked in both Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Russian military forces are poised to sever the country’s east-west rail links.

These realities will likely drive the logistical pathway farther north, through Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan and through Kazakhstan to Russia proper (some U.S. transports already utilize Russian airspace).

Turkmenistan presents its own challenges, as it is particularly isolated after years of authoritarian rule and continues to suffer from the legacy of what was essentially a state religion of worshipping the now-deceased Turkmenbashi. His successor, Gurbanguly Berdimukhammedov (who is rumored to be the Turkmenbashi’s illegitimate son), continues to struggle to consolidate power and is left with a series of delicate internal and external balancing acts. In short, enacting new policies under the new government remains problematic to say the least.

There is another choice: Use a Russian or Ukrainian port of entry where organized crime will be a particularly serious problem (as well as espionage with any sensitive equipment shipped this way), or use a more secure — and efficient — port that will require a rail gauge swap from the European and Turkish 1,435 mm standard to the 1,520 mm rail gauge standard in the former Soviet Union.

All of this is complicated, but the linchpin is working out an agreement to use Russian territory. This presents an even more profound challenge than Russia’s real (but not unlimited) capacity to meddle in its periphery.

While there are a number of outstanding questions — where exactly U.S. supply ships might dock to offload supplies, whether a transfer of cargo from the Western to Russian rail gauge might be necessary, whether the route would transit Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan or both, etc. — these are minor details in comparison to the Russian problem. If there is an understanding with Moscow, the rest is possible. But that understanding must entail enough reliability that Russia cannot treat U.S. and NATO military supplies like natural gas for Europe and Ukraine.

Without an understanding between Washington and Moscow, none of this is possible.

The problem is that while the Kremlin has been reasonably cooperative up to this point when it comes to U.S. and NATO efforts in Afghanistan, such an understanding may not be possible completely independent of the clash of wills between Russia and the West. There is too much at stake, and the window of opportunity is too narrow for Moscow to simply play nice with the new American administration without a much broader strategic agreement and very real concessions. Nevertheless, NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe, U.S. Gen. Bantz Craddock, has been making overtures to Russia about improving relations.

General David Petraeus is also involved in the efforts to line up a logistics pathway to Afghanistan.  “The top US military commander for the Middle East and Central Asia has denied reports the US is planning to open a military base in Kazakhstan.

Speaking in the Kazakh capital, Astana, Gen David Petraeus also said the US had no plans to withdraw its military presence from neighbouring Kyrgyzstan.

The general is in Kazakhstan for talks on the role of Central Asian states in supporting America’s Afghan operations.

Gen Petraeus and Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev discussed the partnership between their countries, and Kazakhstan’s role in supporting US operations in Afghanistan.  Kazakhstan has recently signed an agreement allowing the transit of non-military US supplies to Afghanistan.”

Assuming the veracity and accuracy of this report, it would appear that the probability is that the chosen line of supply directly involves Russia, although only for so-called “non-military” supplies.

But this choice might burden any upcoming decisions on the Ukraine and Georgia and whether they are allowed to enter into NATO, as well as other important European issues such as whether missiles will be deployed in Poland.  While not learning much from the Stratfor analysis, they are on target with their analysis of the affects of the decision-making as it pertains to Russia.

Stratfor says “there is too much at stake, and the window of opportunity is too narrow for Moscow to simply play nice with the new American administration without a much broader strategic agreement and very real concessions.”  Concessions indeed.  And while the route selected will be moderately to significantly less problematic that the alternatives, and while Gates, Petraeus and Craddock might actually believe (for now) in Russian good intentions, they should remember that Russia is ruled by ex-KGB, bent on regional hegemony for at least what they consider to be their near abroad.

The alternative through Georgia still exists, as long as the U.S. is willing to play hard ball and defend her sovereignty (as well as defend her as a line of logistical supply to Afghanistan).  More specifically, the line of supply is as follows.  First, supplies (including military supplies) would be shipped through the Mediterranean Sea through the Bosporus Strait in Turkey.

And from there into the Black Sea.  From the Black Sea the supplies would go through Georgia to neighboring Azerbaijan.

From here the supplies would transit across the Caspian Sea to Turkmenistan, and from there South to Afghanistan.  A larger regional map gives a better idea of the general flow path.

The problems are numerous, including the fact that the supplies would be unloaded in Georgia to transit by rail car or road, unloaded from rail or truck to transit again by sea, and finally loaded aboard rail cars or trucks again (after passage across the Caspian Sea) in Turkmenistan to make passage to Afghanistan.

But it isn’t obvious that this line of supply is impossible, however impractical it may be.  U.S. military leadership should remember that an alternative exists to the Russian line of supply to Afghanistan.  It will be too late to act to secure a line of supply through Georgia at some point in the future, but until then, the U.S. should carefully examine the Russian demands for this logistical aid.  The Russian demands are likely to evolve and expand, and it is this expansion that will prove to be troubling.  Russia is playing nice now.  This won’t last forever.

Prior:

New Afghan Supply Route Through Russia Likely

U.S-Georgia Strategic Partnership

The Logistical Battle: New Lines of Supply to Afghanistan

The Search for Alternate Supply Routes to Afghanistan

Large Scale Taliban Operations to Interdict Supply Lines

More on Lines of Logistics for Afghanistan

How Many Troops Can We Logistically Support in Afghanistan?

Targeting of NATO Supply Lines Through Pakistan Expands

Logistical Difficulties in Afghanistan

Taliban Control of Supply Routes to Kabul

Interdiction of U.S. Supplies in Khyber Pass

The Torkham Crossing

Taliban and al Qaeda Strategy in Pakistan and Afghanistan

New Afghan Supply Route Through Russia Likely

BY Herschel Smith
5 years, 9 months ago

Adding to our coverage and analysis of the logistics for Operation Enduring Freedom, it appears that negotiations are all but finished for a new supply route through Russia.

A NATO official says talks on setting up an alternate supply route to Afghanistan are at an advanced stage — an issue of growing urgency because of intensifying attacks by pro-Taliban forces on convoys in Pakistan.

The official who declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter says diplomatic efforts are nearing conclusion on the new route for military supplies that will pass through Russia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.

Moscow agreed last year to let the alliance use its territory to resupply the 62,000 Western troops in landlocked Afghanistan.

Some individual NATO members already use the so-called northern route to supply their forces in Afghanistan. But the alliance as a whole still relies on the route from Pakistan’s port of Karachi.

But we have also pointed out the alternative to Russia via Georgia.  Harder and more time consuming though it would be, it removes Russia as the center of gravity in the plan.  With supply to U.S. troops in Afghanistan being dependent upon Russian good will, it remains to be seen how much pressure relations with the Ukraine and Georgia will sustain.  For instance, without Russian cooperation in consideration, would the U.S. support membership in NATO for these two countries?

Russia is even now proving itself to be a recalcitrant neighbor.

Europeans likely didn’t need much more evidence of how unreliable a partner Russia can be, but this week the Kremlin gave them definitive proof.

In a pricing dispute with Ukraine, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin ordered supplies of natural gas to Europe shut off, just as most of the continent was at the coldest point of what has been an unusually cold winter.

Europe relies on Russia for 25 percent to 40 percent of its natural gas, and 80 percent of that is shipped through pipelines that cross Ukraine. The cutoff was felt from Turkey to France and was particularly acute in the Balkans and southeastern Europe, where several countries declared states of emergency.

Russia claims that Ukraine is behind in its payments for gas and is seeking $600 million in late fees plus a higher price for future shipments.

In any reasonable part of the world, this dispute might be settled by mutually agreed-upon international arbitration. Whatever culpability Ukraine has in this dispute, Russia has motives other than financial. It resents Ukraine’s successful experiment with democracy, its support for Georgia in the recent conflict and especially its plans to join NATO.

All this comes as Russia is reeling from a financial crisis brought by the collapse of oil and gas prices and by the Kremlin’s custom of appropriating foreign-owned firms once they become profitable.

For the Europeans, Russian natural gas is the most readily available, but as long as the Kremlin uses price and availability as blunt instruments of foreign policy, they’d be foolish to rely on it.

This is a wake-up call for Europe to search for alternative sources delivered through more secure routes.

Is this a wake-up call that should have been heard in the office of the Secretary of Defense as well?

Reuters-Come-Lately to Khyber Pass and Georgia Story

BY Herschel Smith
5 years, 9 months ago

In addition to original reporting, sometimes blogs owners contribute to review and analysis of existing data and information that isn’t otherwise performed within the main stream media.  Myra MacDonald with Reuters has landed on the story of the Khyper Pass and the potential strategic partnership between the U.S. and Russia (while still not discussing the alternative via Georgia) to create new logistical lines of supply to Afghanistan.

She links to some well worn articles with the Washington Post, New York Times, IHT, a Robert Gates commentary for Foreign Affairs, and several other sources, and then asks some salient questions about the price of the partnership with Russia to provide a line of supply into Afghanistan, concluding with the following promise: “This is one I’m going to watch closely and I would appreciate comments and links to stories that illuminate the subject both before and after Jan 20.”

In addition to the commentary we have already provided on Gates’ article for Foreign Affairs, Myra misses the point that Google is our friend.  A word search on “Torkham crossing” or “Georgia strategic partnership” yields articles by The Captain’s Journal at the very top of the first page.

While the U.S. Army was claiming that there wouldn’t be a spring offensive in Afghanistan, we said approximately one year ago that there would be a two prong asymmetric offensive, one in Pakistan and the other in Afghanistan, with the focus of both being lines of logistical supply, and even providing a simple diagram of the strategic approach.  We have followed this problem through not only the potential for adverse consequences to Europe from the alleged thaw in relations with Russia, but the alternative to Russia, the Georgian supply route.

While Myra has been reading the New York Times, I have been having detailed discussions with Steve Schippert over logistics and consequences that go far beyond what the MSM has analyzed.  Don’t misunderstand – it’s a good thing that Myra has landed on this story when so many in the media are making a laughingstock of themselves by being focused on what clothing the political candidates are wearing at the moment.

But by ignoring the first of a kind, news-breaking, easy-to-find and more detailed analyses of the more serious Milbloggers such as Steve and me, Myra, like most in the MSM, has handicapped herself in the timeliness and depth of her analysis.  My analysis of the Khyber Pass / Torkham Crossing situation came even before the first Jamestown Foundation analysis of record I can find.

Sometimes blogs exist merely as a symbiont with the main stream media, and this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  Occasionally though, there is innovative, ground-breaking analysis and research performed by authors other than in the main stream media, however hard this may be for the MSM to accept.

Prior:

U.S-Georgia Strategic Partnership

The Logistical Battle: New Lines of Supply to Afghanistan

The Search for Alternate Supply Routes to Afghanistan

Large Scale Taliban Operations to Interdict Supply Lines

More on Lines of Logistics for Afghanistan

How Many Troops Can We Logistically Support in Afghanistan?

Targeting of NATO Supply Lines Through Pakistan Expands

Logistical Difficulties in Afghanistan

Taliban Control of Supply Routes to Kabul

Interdiction of U.S. Supplies in Khyber Pass

The Torkham Crossing

Taliban and al Qaeda Strategy in Pakistan and Afghanistan

“Clearly, logistics is the hard part of fighting a war.”
- Lt. Gen. E. T. Cook, USMC, November 1990

“Gentlemen, the officer who doesn’t know his communications and supply as well as his tactics is totally useless.”
- Gen. George S. Patton, USA

“Bitter experience in war has taught the maxim that the art of war is the art of the logistically feasible.”
- ADM Hyman Rickover, USN

“There is nothing more common than to find considerations of supply affecting the strategic lines of a campaign and a war.”
- Carl von Clausevitz

“The line between disorder and order lies in logistics…”
- Sun Tzu

U.S.-Georgia Strategic Partnership

BY Herschel Smith
5 years, 10 months ago

A U.S.-Georgia security pact is said to be in the works.

With Georgia’s hopes of quickly joining the NATO alliance deferred for the moment, Tbilisi is placing its hopes in the next best thing — a bilateral security pact with the United States.

Details of the emerging accord are still unclear, but Georgian Deputy Foreign Minister Nino Kalandadze said the two sides are already discussing a “framework agreement” proposed by U.S. officials.

“Intensive negotiations are under way,” Kalandadze told reporters in Tbilisi on December 17. “This treaty is being discussed mainly at the Defense Ministry, but also at the Foreign Ministry…. We will jointly analyze all its provisions in detail and in the end we will come to an agreement.”

Georgian officials say they hope a bilateral arrangement could not only enhance their security, but also jump-start their NATO bid. But analysts say it could also significantly raise the stakes in the South Caucasus by bringing the United States closer to a direct confrontation with Russia, which is solidifying its military and political presence in the pro-Moscow breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

“It’s potentially a very big deal,” says Lincoln Mitchell, a Columbia University professor and the author of the book “Uncertain Democracy: U.S. Foreign Policy and Georgia’s Rose Revolution.” “But the question is, does it formalize something that de facto already exists? What level of commitment does it really make?”

Russian hegemony is likely far from finished regarding what it considers to be its “near abroad.”  We knew at the time of the Russian invasion of Georgia that hard decisions would have to be made, and it appears as if the hardest one was postponed (i.e., entry to NATO) in favor a partial alternative.  The question is well-framed above.  What level of commitment does it really make?

Vladimir Socor of The Jamestown Foundation weighs in with an analysis of the potential agreement and its importance for Georgia.

U.S.-Georgian bilateral security and military arrangements could come not a moment too soon. This strategic partnership should remedy the security vacuum that the United States, NATO, and the European Union had, each in its own way, allowed to develop in the Black Sea-South Caucasus region during the last few years. Russia’s invasion of Georgia in August and the West’s paralysis in the face of that event dramatized the security vacuum in a region critical to Western interests.

From Georgia’s perspective, “cooperation with our strategic partner is almost the only assurance of our security,” according to Batu Kutelia, hitherto First Deputy Defense Minister and now ambassador-designate to the United States (Rustavi-2 TV, December 17). The sentiment in Tbilisi, as columnist Eka Kvesitadze sums it up, is that “after we were left to face Russia one-on-one, a bilateral military agreement with the United States would be the only salvation for the country” (24 Saati, December 15).

Such comments reflect the country’s vulnerability and the psychological pressure on Georgian society after the forward-deployment of Russian forces in the annexed territories. The CFE Treaty, already made useless by Russia in the North and South Caucasus well before this war, has been dead beyond recall since August, leaving no constraint and no transparency regarding Russian deployments. This situation jeopardizes the whole set of Western interests that converge in the South Caucasus.

U.S. military assistance to Georgia must therefore be expected to include those basic capabilities for defensive operations that Georgia had lacked all along: respectable air defense, anti-tank and counter-artillery capabilities, command-control-communications equipment, intelligence systems, operational training for territorial defense, training of staff-level officers, and a system for reservist training and mobilization.

Russia’s invasion exposed all those gaps in Georgia’s defense system. They are traceable to the limited content of U.S. assistance programs in recent years, which focused on distant counterinsurgency missions while underestimating the potential threats of a conventional military nature.

The new U.S. program is expected to address those defense gaps. This would enable Georgia to raise the cost of another Russian attack to the extent of deterring it without necessitating the presence of U.S. forces, which in any case is not on the cards in the form of military bases. The lesson of August in Georgia (as in the Baltic states) underscores the need to rebalance the allocation of resources, which has tended to privilege expeditionary operations while sometimes short-changing homeland defense.

If this analysis is correct, the U.S. can be expected to supply weapons and training to Georgian military forces in the near future in order to make more Russian military action much less attractive than it was several months ago.  Yet as The Captain’s Journal has pointed out in The Logistical Battle, a potential supply route to Afghanistan is being pursued (in light of the increased danger in the Khyber pass in Pakistan) that completely bypasses Russia, with supplies being “shipped across the Black Sea to Georgia, driven to neighbouring Azerbaijan, shipped across the Caspian Sea to Turkmenistan and then driven to the Afghan border.”

But while bypassing Russia, this supply line may place the U.S. squarely in position to deal with the Russian threat to the region.  The new security pact is in our interest as well.  As we observed:

… interestingly, this leaves us vulnerable yet again to Russian dispositions, even with the alternative supply route.  Georgia is the center of gravity in this plan, and our willingness to defend her and come to her aid might just be the one thing that a) kills the option of Russia as a logistical supply into Afghanistan, and b) saves Georgia as a supply route.  Thus far, we have maneuvered ourselves into the position of reliance on Russian good will.  These “thawed relations” might just turn critical should Russia decide again to flex its muscle in the region, making the U.S. decisions concerning Georgia determinative concerning our ability to supply our troops in Afghanistan.

Are we willing to turn over Georgia (and maybe the Ukraine) to Russia in exchange for a line of supply into Afghanistan, or are we willing to defend and support Georgia for the preservation of democracy in the region and – paradoxically – the preservation of a line of supply to Afghanistan?  The upcoming administration has some hard choices, and it’s unlikely that negotiations will make much difference.  The burden will rest on decisions rather than talks.

It’s likely anyway that whatever pacts created in the current administration will be revisited in the next, so once again Georgian security is in question.  But it should be clear to the next administration that protecting Georgia not only means coming to the aid of an ally (Georgia committed troops to Operation Iraqi Freedom), but also potentially protecting the best independent logistical line of supply to troops in Afghanistan.

Restoring the Balance

BY Herschel Smith
5 years, 10 months ago

We are told that “experts” have now warned President-elect Barack Obama of a nuclear Iran.

Iran poses the greatest foreign policy challenge to Barack Obama, the President-elect, with Tehran on course to produce a nuclear bomb in the first year of an Obama administration, a coalition of top think-tanks gave warning yesterday.

Mr Obama must keep his promises of direct talks with Tehran and engage the Middle East region as a whole if he is to halt a looming crisis that could be revisited on the US, the experts said.

“Diplomacy is not guaranteed to work,” Richard Haass, one of the authors said. “But the other options – military action or living with an Iranian weapon are sufficiently unattractive for it to warrant serious commitment.”

The warnings came in a report entitled Restoring the Balance. The Middle East strategy for the President-elect was drafted by the Council for Foreign Relations and the Brookings Institution.

Gary Samore, one of the authors, said that the level of alarm over the “hornet’s nest” facing the President-elect in the Middle East, and the need for the swift adoption of previously untested approach, had inspired the decision to write policy for him. “New administrations can choose new policies but they can’t choose next contexts,” Mr Samore said.

The report paints a grim picture of the problems in the region but asserts that Mr Obama is still in a strong position. For the first time since the Iranian revolution the leadership in Tehran has endorsed the idea of talking directly with Washington, as Mr Obama has suggested. Falling oil prices also provide an opportunity, restricting Iran’s means to sponsor terrorist groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah that act as its proxy in the region.

The new administration, however, must not fall into the trap of treating Iran in isolation to the rest of the Middle East, as the previous administration did.

Syria, which has shown tentative signs of a desire for better relations with the West and has held negotiations with Israel, could be the ideal test case for a new diplomatic approach.

The full report, Restoring the Balance, is a product of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Brookings Institution. The Captain’s Journal is actually a bit surprised to see Michael O’Hanlon associated with the report – he seems a bit too smart to have endorsed it. But it is also worth pointing out that our record of forecasts is thus far impeccable. Three important examples evince the point. First, when Army intelligence forecast that there wouldn’t be a Taliban spring offensive in 2008 because of the alleged split between Baitullah Mehsud and Mullah Omar, we predicted that there would in fact be a two-front offensive, one in Pakistan by the Tehrik-i-Taliban and the other in Afghanistan. Second, we accurately predicted the Taliban strategy of interdiction of NATO supplies in Pakistan in March of 2008. Third, we predicted that Joseph Lieberman would be victorious in the Connecticut Senate Race. We seldom make forecasts, but when we do, we’re usually right.

There were no instances of refusal to guarantee our forecasts when we went on record. The Captain’s Journal – although it is tempting to wait until the new year to weigh in on these important issues – will weigh in concerning some of the recommendations of the subject report, and make some forecasts of our own.

First, Richard Haass doesn’t guarantee that diplomacy will work with Iran. Without equivocation or qualification, we guarantee that diplomacy will not work to dissuade Iran from pursuing nuclear weapons. Iran might make a show of allowing IAEA inspectors into certain parts of their facilities, or responding to IAEA inquiries as to the status of special nuclear material (” … this is not the same highly enriched Uranium we tested on such-and-such date, so where did it come from”), or employ any number of other decoys as a subterfuge. But in a truly verifiable and serious way, Iran will not cease and desist the pursuit of weapons grade nuclear material no matter the size of the army of negotiators or lawyers the U.S. deploys or the number of IAEA inquiries with which Iran gets pelted. Again, this is an absolute guarantee, something that The Council on Foreign Relations couldn’t provide.

Second, the desire to “spin off” Syria from Iran into an ally or even partial or halting ally in Middle East stability is a day dream. Syria is an apparatchik of Iran, and Damascus gets its orders directly from Tehran. Syria will court such negotiations and talks as long as it convinces the battalion of U.S. diplomats that there is something to be gained from it. When it is no longer prudent and efficacious to perform the show, Syria will drop the pretense. The battalion of U.S. diplomats will look like stooges on the world stage.

Third – concerning the recommendation in Chapter 5 of the report that the U.S. encourage Egypt, Saudi Arabia and other Arab actors to pressure Hamas to police the cease-fire agreement with Israel and to convince the Hamas leadership to accept the April 2002 Arab League Peace Initiative – this avenue will fail because Hamas will cease to exist as an effective and viable organization unless it acquiesces to pressure from the surging Salafist movement inside Palestine itself (with religious schools numbering as many as 50,000). Palestine will become more radical, not less. A corollary forecast is that holding Israel to its commitment to freeze settlement and construction in Jerusalem (Chapter 5) will be meaningless to the Palestinian cause. When Hamas refers to the “occupation,” they don’t mean occupation of Gaza or Palestine proper. They mean that they consider the existence of the Jews at all to be an occupation of their land. In other words, Palestine will continue to reject the two-state solution, and no army of negotiators will change that.

Finally, as to some particulars:

  1. Hamas will begin launching rockets at Israel again from Gaza during the upcoming administration.
  2. Hezbollah will attack Israel again during the upcoming administration. The orders will come directly from Tehrah to Damascus and then be relayed to Hasan Nasrallah.
  3. Russia will continue the pressure on the Georgian administration and expand its military presence inside the borders of Georgia.
  4. Russia will (covertly) support the installation of a pro-Russian administration in the Ukraine (which is not the same as forecasting that a pro-Russian administration will actually end up being installed).
  5. Russia will assist Iran in its desire to achieve weapons grade nuclear material.
  6. Without direct action to undermine the Iranian regime (such as democracy programs or even the fomenting of an insurgency to topple the regime), Iranian elements (Quds, IRG) will expand the scope of their operations inside Iraq and Afghanistan and even support Hezbollah as it battles Israel. No amount of diplomacy will change this.
  7. Finally, the State Department will begin the administration will high hopes, excitement and grand ambitions for the role of diplomacy, negotiations and multi-lateral talks. By the end of the administration, a general malaise and confusion will have descended upon the entire State Department, and yet there will still be sparse and shallow understanding of why negotiations have so miserably failed to prevent or ameliorate the various calamities for which they were targeted.

Planning for these exigencies should “restore the balance.” The Captain’s Journal will send a bill to the incoming administration for our consultative services. They will prove to be better than those of the Council on Foreign Relations and well worth the cost.


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