Sunday, January 31, 2010

Georgia's Saakashvili Offers Up Country For Afghan War

Mikheil Saakashvili, the Georgian leader who rarely shies away from prostituting his country to Western institutions, is up to it again.  This time, Saakashvili is eager to see his tiny, impoverished country in the Caucasus, transformed into a "hub" for the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan.  His offer comes as Washington ponders how to get more guns and boots into the quagmire that is Afghanistan.


In an interview with the AP news agency, Saakshvili spelled out details of a plan to create a corridor for weapons across Georgia and Central Asia to Afghanistan. 

Georgia is already offering its Black Sea ports to Western military supply ships and its airports as refuelling points for cargo planes.

Disingenuously, just a tad perhaps, Saakashvili said he saw no reason for Moscow to object to the plan.

Saakashvili said the idead was first floated to Vice President Joe Biden when he visited Georgia in July.  Saakashvili also said he discussed the idea with the head of U.S. Central Command, Gen. David Petraeus.

A, a spokesman for the the U.S. Defense Department's Transportation Command, said the department was aware of the Georgian offer, but didn't have time to study it enough yet. 

That the White House has been mum about the proposal, speaks volumes.


Washington has long backed NATO entry for Georgia and Ukraine, part of U.S. plans to completely encircle Russia, although you're not allowed to say that amid 'respectable' company, you must speak of 'building democracy' and bolstering 'security' or some other such neutral pablum.

But now Washington, however, has had to shelve those plans, temporarily perhaps, in pursuit of more pressing problems in which they need the Russians: Iran and Afghanistan aid.

This is painted as some outreach move by U.S. President Barack Obama, a departure from the foreign policy frollicker, George. W. Bush. But, the U.S. wants more international pressure on Iran, plus another supply route to Afghanistan, other than the one in Pakistan, which is gradually decending into chaos, no thanks to Washington.

For the Georgians and many other elite Russophobes in the former Warsaw Pact states, this is spun as a "sellout" to the Kremlin.

But old Cold War habits die hard.  Last May, some 1,000 NATO soldiers arrived in Georgia to take part in NATO exercises that didn't include jumping jacks.  This despite vehement objections from Moscow and supposedly at a time of warming relations soured by 2008's short war between Georgia and Russia.

Georgia has pledged an army battalion — about 750 troops — to Afghanistan, and it should be ready to deploy next spring, perhaps by March.


In December, NATO's dapper, glorified spokesman, "Secretary-General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, was in Moscow for talks with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and President Dmitry Medvedev, and with his military pact's hand extended asking Russia for help.  The Informant covered that event. 

The Russians were cagey and gave Rasmussen no firm word on supplying guns and trainers to Afghanistan.  

However, the Russians have been allowing much aid from the military alliance that seeks to encircle it to send more supplies across Russia's expansive territory. 

U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense David Sedney told a Senate panel that in the past 11 months, the United States has shipped almost 5,000 containers to its troops along the Central Asian railway route.

Russia's so-called NATO envoy, Dmitry Rogozin, said any delays in upping NATO shipments -- only non-military stuff -- is not Moscow's fault, but NATO's.

Rogozin, a bit cheeky, suggested going the Russian route is cheaper than shipping supplies to Afghanistan, via Ukraine, the Black Sea, Georgia, Azerbaijan, the Caspian Sea and Turkmenistan.

That is what Saakashvili is proposing. 

Washington is calculating why spend more and needlessly rile up Russia.

Saakashvili, will likely remain unbowed, seeking new ways to pimp his country to Western clubs, including writing glowing tracts in the Western press.

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