The day before
Richard Holbrooke arrived in Kabul, eight suicide
bombers and gunmen attacked the Justice and Education
ministries, killing 26 and wounding 57.
Kabul was paralyzed, as the Taliban displayed an ability
to wreak havoc within a hundred yards of the
The assault came as
President Obama is both conducting a strategic review
how many additional U.S. troops to send.
Earlier, there was talk of
30,000, bringing the
total to 63,000. Now, there are reports Obama may commit
no more than the three brigades promised in 2008, and
only one brigade now.
Clearly, the United States
is checking its hole card. Can we draw to a winning
hand? Or is this hand an inevitable loser—and we must
cut our losses and cede the pot? No longer, anywhere, is
there talk of
Nor is the diplomatic news
Kyrgyzstan gave us six months to vacate Manas, the
air base used to resupply U.S. forces. A
guerrillas blew up a bridge in the Khyber, cutting
the 1,000-mile supply line from Karachi to Kabul. Before that,
truck parks in
While in Pakistan, Holbrooke was told by all
to whom he spoke that, while U.S. Predator strikes may
be killing Taliban and al-Qaida, the deaths among tribal
peoples are turning Pakistan
What would winning Afghanistan for
democracy profit us, if the price were losing a
nuclear-armed Pakistan to Islamism?
The expulsion from Manas,
received a reported $2 billion in aid from Moscow, raises a question.
Is Russia restarting
"The Great Game" she played against
Victoria`s Empire in
Central Asia, which ended in 1907 with a
British-Russian entente, dividing Iran into spheres of influence, with
both sides agreeing to keep hands off Afghanistan?
As Russia has as great an interest in
preventing an Islamist Kabul, and has assisted NATO`s
resupply of its forces, why would
seek to expel us from a base vital to the war effort?
Does Russia simply seek to
be recognized by the United States as the hegemon of
Central Asia, the sole great power that decides who can
and who cannot use former Soviet bases?
For if Manas is closed and
the Karachi-Khyber-Kabul supply line is compromised or
cut, Obama would seem to have but three options.
First would be to go back,
hat-in-hand, to Islam Karimov, the Uzbek ruler charged
with grave human rights violations, and ask him to
reopen the Karshi-Khanabad (K2) air base, from which we
were expelled in 2005. And what would be Karimov`s
Second is the Russia option.
now holds the whip hand in the
old Soviet republics, what is
Moscow`s price to let us remain
in Manas or use other Soviet bases over which it wields
The answer is obvious.
Neither Georgia nor Ukraine is to be
brought into NATO. The independence of Abkhazia and
South Ossetia, won in the August war with Georgia, is not to be challenged.
The U.S anti-missile missiles planned for Poland are not to be deployed.
In turn, Russia will cancel any missile
Kaliningrad, recommits to the
terms of all conventional forces agreements in Europe and assist in the effort in Afghanistan. Russia rejoins
the West, and the West stays off Russia`s front porch.
Be not surprised if the
Russians come trolling before an overextended American
empire an end to the Great Game in
Central Asia like the one the ministers of
Nicholas II offered the ministers of Edward VII.
And the third option? It is Iran.
Before 9-11, Iran was more
hostile to the anti-Shia Taliban than we, and it has no
desire to see them return. Indeed,
was a supporter of the
Iraq, as both were
ruled by mortal enemies.
The long way for U.S. and NATO
war materiel to reach
would be through a Turkey-Kurdistan-Iran supply line.
The shorter would be from Iranian ports straight into
Price of an entente? An end
to the 30-year U.S.-Iranian cold war and a strategic
bargain whereby Iran is allowed
to develop peaceful nuclear power, under supervision,
the United States
lifts its embargo, and regime change is left to the
President Ahmadinejad, no
fool, and facing an uncertain election this year, is
already signaling interest in negotiations with Obama.
A complication. How would
"Bibi" Netanyahu and Avigdor Lieberman regard a U.S.-Iran
rapprochement—to prevent a Taliban triumph in Kabul?
Yet, if the Taliban`s
enemies in Russia, Iran, Pakistan and Central Asia will not assist us, this war cannot end well.
And if they will not help,
Obama should cut
America`s losses, come
home and let their neighbors deal with a triumphant
CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.
Patrick J. Buchanan
no introduction to VDARE.COM readers;
his book State of Emergency: The Third World Invasion and Conquest of America, can be ordered from Amazon.com. His latest book
Hitler, and "The Unnecessary War": How Britain Lost Its
Empire and the West Lost the World,
Paul Craig Roberts.