The Obama administration has reached an agreement with the Russian government of Dimitri Medvedev allowing the US to transship military materiel to US and NATO troops in Afghanistan. As Russia Today reports, this step makes US and Russia strong allies, stronger than at any time since World War II. The RT report stresses the need to block heroin made from Afghan poppies from being exported by Afghanistan, suggesting one motivation for Russian cooperation. Video:
The agreement was made necessary by the closure of supply routes into landlocked Afghanistan. The Karachi-Khyber Pass route has been largely closed by the Pakistani Taliban. The potential Iran route looks chancey given recent political turmoil there and the even more damaged relationship between Washington and Tehran. The downside of the agreement is that the US will become captive to Russia on the basis of geopolitical exploitation. Russia already throws its weight around on the basis of its hydrocarbon investments. Now it will be able to extract further concessions by appeal to ‘strategic rent,’ the resources Moscow can gain from its security contribution with regard to Afghanistan.
Tom Engelhardt contrasts the obsessive interest in the US mass media in Michael Jackson’s death with the nearly complete unconcern with innocent Afghan lives lost when the US and NATO militaries bomb Afghan wedding parties by mistake.
Speaking of the late Michael Jackson, you have to wonder whether some savvy satellite news channel could not make money counter-programing against channels that believe they have a divine right to all put on the same thing. Wasn’t anyone at all interested in real news, such as the killing of 7 US troops in Afghanistan?
As noted, 11 NATO troops, including 7 Americans, have been killed by bombs, grenades or small arms fire during the past two days in Afghanistan.
Some 4,000 US military personnel, have swept into the troubled Helmand province, in the biggest operation of the Afghanistan War. Unfortunately for the success of the operation, Taliban fighters largely slipped away, some apparently disguised as women in burqas, heading for the southwest and northeast. Likely we will hear of an increased rate of violence in those provinces.
In fact, as McClatchy reports, German and Italian military commanders in Afghanistan are already grumbling that all the Helmand operation did was to displace militants into their areas of responsibility.
Meanwhile in Pakistan, the US military attacked via drone a Taliban position, killing 12-16 persons. Such strikes are extremely unpopular with the Pakistani public.
Despite the Swat campaign by the Pakistani military against the Tehrik-i Taliban Pakistan, the government’s release of major militant leaders raises questions about its seriousness in winning against the vigilante fundamentalists.
For social issues of the past few months in Afghanistan, see this and other recent productions of Brave New Films, Robert Greenwald’s progressive documentary project. See the site Rethink Afghanistan. Video on women’s issues:
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