Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
November 29, 2011

The Ever Expanding Price for Afghanistan Operations

Visa and Mastercard are the only major powers in the electronic payment processing market. The form a duopoly, do not seriously compete and can thereby extract an ever increasing price from their customers.

Russia and Pakistan are now a duopoly in logistics for troops in Afghanistan and they are using it to increases the price the U.S. has to pay to stay there:

Russia said it may not let NATO use its territory to supply troops in Afghanistan if the alliance doesn't seriously consider its objections to a U.S.-led missile shield for Europe, Russia's ambassador to NATO said Monday.
If NATO doesn't give a serious response, "we have to address matters in relations in other areas," Russian news services reported Dmitri Rogozin, ambassador to NATO, as saying. He added that Russia's cooperation on Afghanistan may be an area for review, the news services reported.

The U.S. "missile defense" in Europe never made sense as protection against Iranian weapons. It only makes sense if it is planed to provide capabilities against Russia's strategic weapons.

The Russians of course assume that and their suspicion increased when the U.S. denied them any real cooperation on the issue. Even more serious:

Moscow is seeking written, legally-binding guarantees that the shield will not be directed against it but Washington has refused to put its verbal assurances in writing.

There are other points on which Russia has reason to use its capability to block U.S. logistics. U.S. meddling in Central Asia, the planned attack on Syria and drug trafficking from Afghanistan are part of that list.

Russia upping the price for further cooperation on Afghanistan helps Pakistan and will allow it to also further increase its own price for again allowing transport through its country. China is also supportive of Pakistan's position:

Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said Monday that China will consistently support Pakistan's efforts in safeguarding national independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity.

With Pakistan closing down the logistics and Russia expecting serious concessions the only way left to supply troops in Afghanistan is through the Caspian route from the Georgian port Poti to Baku in Azerbaijan, from there by ferry across the Caspian Sea to Kazakhstan on to Uzbekistan and finally to Afghanistan. It is the most expensive route and it has serious capacity constrains.

The U.S. has maneuvered itself into a really bad position in Afghanistan. It constantly alienates the other major powers but expects them to help on the issue. They have no reason to do so. They just watch and wait and when there inevitably opens a chance to press their concerns or to increase their profits they will, like Russia now, use it.

With neither the Taliban nor Pakistan talking part in the upcoming Bonn conference on Afghanistan there is no political solution in sight and the costs for the U.S. holding out there will day by day increase further. It is time for a serious change in strategy and to give up on Afghanistan. Washington still seems to be unwilling to contemplate that.

Posted by b on November 29, 2011 at 15:14 UTC | Permalink


Thanks b, good topic. This could be an interesting test to see if the Russian and Pakistani wealthy can extract their pound of flesh from the NATO supported wealthy from the West. Since I believe this incursion from the Western oligarchs is all about resources, we'll see if they can make a deal with the Eastern oligarchs. If they do, this "New World Order" thing I believe in, is still on track. If Russia and Pakistan take the national autonomy route, they've slowed the train a bit.

Posted by: ben | Nov 29 2011 16:08 utc | 1

Smiling for the cameras is all this is. There's no substance behind these strategic idle threats. Tuco says it best...

When you have to shoot, shoot, don't talk.

Posted by: Morocco Bama | Nov 29 2011 16:24 utc | 2

US and Pakistan enter the danger zone

Washington may have seriously erred if the intention Friday night was to draw out the Pakistani military into a retaliatory mode and then to hit it with a sledgehammer and make it crawl on its knees pleading mercy. Things aren't going to work that way. Pakistan is going to give a "Persian" response.

The regional situation works in Pakistan's favor. The recent Istanbul conference (November 2) showed up Russia, China, Pakistan and Iran sharing a platform of opposition to the US bases in Afghanistan in the post-2014 period.

The Obama administration's grandiose scheme to transform the 89-year period ahead as 'America's Pacific Century' makes Pakistan a hugely important partner for China. At the very minimum, Russia has stakes in encouraging Pakistan's strategic autonomy. So does Iran.

None of these major regional powers wants the deployment of the US missile defense system in the Hindu Kush and Pakistan is bent on exorcising the region of the military presence of the US and its allies. That is also the real meaning of Pakistan's induction as a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which is on the cards.

Posted by: Outraged | Nov 29 2011 17:24 utc | 3

Pakistan needs to choose to ally with Iran or Saudi Arabia

Posted by: nikon | Nov 29 2011 17:39 utc | 4

Alot of things seem to be happening today. Some notes:

- British Embassy in Iran has been stormed (today is the 1 year anniversary of the assassination of one of the Iranian nuclear scientists). It comes a day after the Ayatollah spoke to journalists and generals calling the new economic sanctions from Britain the "work of the colonisers".

- On the Pakistani troop massacre, some smart observers have found that last Friday (26th Nov) was the anniversary of the attacks in Mumbai (thought to have been the work of Kashmiri's 313 Brigade linked to the ISI). Paints the attacks in a much more sinister light. Was it a coincidence that the Pakistani troops were bombed on the anniversary of the Mumbai attacks?

- Turkey might be mulling an invasion of Syria in the next week or so behind the scenes. Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoglu gave a statement today that they are fully prepared "for a scenario" regarding Syria. US Vice President Joe Biden is scheduled to travel to Turkey at the weekend and The Daily Telegraph is reporting from sources in Libya that 600 Libyan rebels have already been moved into Syria from Turkey.

Posted by: Colm O' Toole | Nov 29 2011 17:45 utc | 5

Report: Explosion rocks Iran city of Isfahan, home to key nuclear facility

Hmmmm. Only time will tell what happens next.

Posted by: easy e | Nov 29 2011 18:42 utc | 6

Video of the aftermath of the attack on the Pakistani outposts

Posted by: b | Nov 29 2011 19:32 utc | 7

@easy e - Iranian officials say there was no explosion. File under Israeli scare propaganda.

Posted by: b | Nov 29 2011 19:33 utc | 8

The Northern Distribution Network is supposedly for non-military supplies.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Nov 29 2011 19:40 utc | 9

It seems to me that the occupying forces are gradually getting squeezed and may end up trapped in landlocked Afghanistan.

More and more troops are going in, needing more food to eat, supplies for the PX, and lots of guns and ammo. But the Russians will only let in non-military supplies, while the insurgents are regularly sabotaging the main supply lines, and closing them if occupying forces kill Pakistanis. On top of that, there are not many airports that can handle long haul transport planes.

So what happens if supplies run too low for the occupying forces to continue to conduct a winnable war in Afghanistan? Will this make it easier for the insurgents to defeat the occupying forces? My guess is that it will.

Posted by: Cynthia | Nov 29 2011 20:50 utc | 10

Satellite video of earlier November explosion put up by CNN on 11/28.

Posted by: jawbone | Nov 29 2011 21:28 utc | 11

I think it's pretty clear it's all about this.

Posted by: Morocco Bama | Nov 29 2011 21:46 utc | 12


Posted by: Gaianne | Nov 29 2011 22:04 utc | 13


A fine video, sure, but what is the relevance here? Russia does not want a shooting war. Pakistan does not want a shooting war. Thus the making of small threats--like we can (or will, or have) closed the supply routes. Makes the point without the exchange of gunfire.

Now what will the US do?

This is the big mystery, as the US itself has destroyed every Pakistani of importance who held favorable attitudes to the US, thus undermining its own diplomatic advantages. Normally this would be incomprehensible, astonishing, but in fact it is just 21st century history.

But maybe diplomacy is no longer necessary.

Or maybe the US is as delusional as it appears.

Agence France Presse reports


that the US will conduct an inquiry and issue a report in a month. A month! Clearly, with this much delay built into the investigation, the US has no intention of apologizing for killing the Pakistani soldiers, let alone making restitution. And everybody is understanding this, immediately.

The US is not seeking any deals here. Rather, the US is seeking a provocation: "Haha! We just killed two dozen of your people! What are you going to do about it?"

The odd part is, there is plenty Pakistan can do, and they are doing it. And everybody understands this, too.

It has long appeared that an unstated goal of US policy is to wreck Pakistan and turn it into a failed state. If so, even this is going off-track, as the US is actually provoking the Pakistanis to resist their destruction. And the lay of the situation is that the Pakistanis have natural allies in resistance.


Posted by: Gaianne | Nov 29 2011 22:06 utc | 14

Things look grim, so we've got to think outside the box here. Hey, Afghanistan has an army of 170,000. How about using the Afghan National Army (ANA)? We're told that they can take over completely in a couple years, are they ready now?

Not quite, according to the recent DOD report.(excerpts)
*The ANA has grown dramatically over the past two years and the majority of this force was fielded without receiving any professional training at the branch schools.
*Although recruiting and retention are continuing at a strong pace, if the high levels of attrition seen during this reporting period continue, there is a risk that the ANA will not be able to sustain the recruitment and training costs currently incurred to achieve the October 2012 growth goal.
*The main causes of attrition in the ANA are poor leadership and accountability, separation from family, denial of leave or poor leave management, high operational tempo, and ineffective deterrence against soldiers going absent without leave (AWOL).
*The ANSF [army and police] continues to require enabling support, including air (both transport and close air support), logistics, ISR, and medical, from coalition resources to perform at the level necessary to produce the security effects required for Transition.

All these problems and they haven't actually even done anything yet. Well, it was worth a thought but I guess we're screwed. Amlaqullah Patyani, the general in charge of all Afghan army training, said it best: "We have no clue how to operate the weapons that NATO gives us."

Posted by: Don Bacon | Nov 29 2011 23:05 utc | 15

This one got lost in the fracas, another of our best and brightest telling it how it is to one of our occupied vassals ...

Afghan U.S. commander fires two star US Army general for criticizing Afghan leaders

"Why don't you just poke me in the eye with a needle! You've got to be kidding me. I'm sorry, we just gave you $11.6 billion and now you're telling me, 'I don't really care'?" the two-star general was quoted as saying by Politico.

Fuller, who was visiting the United States to attend a conference, added: "When they are going to have a presidential election, you hope they get a guy that's more articulate in public."

The general also said he told Afghan generals during a strategic review of the U.S. mission that they don't understand 'the sacrifices' being made by the United States. "I said, 'You guys are isolated from reality.' The reality is, the world economy is having some significant hiccups. The U.S. is in this [too]," he told Politico.

"If you're in a very poor country like Afghanistan, you think that America has roads paved in gold, everybody lives in Hollywood. They don't understand the sacrifices that America is making to provide for their security. And I think that's part of my job to educate 'em."

Fuller said he believes the problem is a mentality left behind by the Soviets. "We didn't buy them a lot of things that they had seen bought previously by the Soviets, the tanks and the jets. So they asked for them. They say, 'Well, the Russians gave us this.'"

The general said he told the Afghans: "You're telling us that you're not appreciative of $11.2 billion from the U.S. this year? We have challenges going on in our own country, and this is our national treasure.'"

The general told Politico he often needs to beat back 'overzealous' demands from Afghan officials. "You can teach a man how to fish, or you can give them a fish. We're giving them fish while they're learning, and they want more fish! [They say,] 'I like swordfish, how come you're giving me cod?' Guess what? Cod's on the menu today."

Posted by: Outraged | Nov 29 2011 23:12 utc | 16

I'm enjoying the self-righteous whining and bluster from Obama and the Brits about "sovereignty" since some Iranians Libya-ised the UK Embassy in Tehran in response to UK sanctions on Iran's sovereignty. It's about time someone reminded USUK that sovereignty is a two-way street.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Nov 30 2011 0:04 utc | 17

Following the example of unsolicited and illegal interference in the internal affairs of sovereign nations set by US & UK, their embassies all over the world should be trashed each and every time they issue a threat against another country.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Nov 30 2011 0:13 utc | 18

Implications of Nato attack

Pakistan has asked the US not to send any military delegations, and a similar embargo applies to Pakistani military visits to Nato countries.

It is speculated by many that Pakistan will consider increasing its deterrence capability after this episode to protect its border posts by providing shoulder-fired ground-to-air missiles to its troops stationed there.

Failure to do so will increase dissatisfaction amongst the Pakistani troops guarding the border. The provision of missiles will transform the whole calculus of forces deployed on the Durand Line.

If the inquiry finds that some officers neglected to follow the protocol applicable to operations on the border, then such officers would need to face court-martial.

Posted by: Outraged | Dec 2 2011 13:57 utc | 19

U.S.'s Afghan Headache: $400-a-Gallon Gasoline
Military Air Drops Fuel Barrels to Avoid Dangerous Vehicle Convoys.

From the comments

" watched 8 55gal drums of JP-4 airdropped, reach term vel, and burst when they hit the ground" . Next week: " Plane comes over at approx 10k ft, chutes come out in a string, man, then group together and all land in the drop zone, COOL" They were $90K GPS guided chutes. There load :water and energy drinks. To the troops more needed than fuel

Hm, just a bunch of isolated 'Ink Spots'. 10 years later, the Taliban still deny vehicle movement, yet they're beaten and we're ever winning, yeh right ...

Posted by: Outraged | Dec 7 2011 13:16 utc | 20

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