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LKidKyle1985's avatar

Any foreign relation buffs out there? What do you think of our Russian friends? Advisory: some reading required?

Asked by LKidKyle1985 (6586points) February 6th, 2009

You thought I was kidding? I wanted to raise the I.Q. of the collective this morning and ask something that requires a little more critical thinking than something like “why do my farts smell”. Not that I don’t enjoy answering questions like that though.

So, I was reading some news articles this morning as I usually do when I wake up and I came across this and this regarding current politics between U.S. and Russia.

I was wondering if anyone else had any thoughts on it. I don’t like the situation, we pretty much have to rely on Russia to supply our operations in Afghanistan and this of course means appeasing them, and just what do the Russians want? If things went tits up when they tried getting what they want I wouldn’t put it pass them to cut off our supply lines. So unless the U.S. makes some ridiculously obscene deal with Uzbekistan to reopen its base to us and fall under our influence, we are giving Putin a free ticket to get what he wants. In all honesty I don’t know whats worse, some terrorists in Afghanistan, or Russia acheiving its goals in eastern europe (don’t think for a minute they don’t miss their old empire). I am not trying to imply they want to start rolling tanks into Warsaw again, but they definatly want our influence out, and theirs in. Not that we necessarily need anything from those regions, but lets face it, if its not benefiting us it will benefit them and I am rooting for us.

Anyways I will tell you what I think we should do. I think making an obscene deal with Uzbekistan is the best way to go. And by obscene I mean promise to invest in their economy similiar to how we invested in S. Korea in the 50s. I know we don’t have a lot of cash to go around even for our own country, but lets look at it like this. If we do this we will most likely secure our influence in central asia since Uzbekistan seems to be the major player in that region. Also once Afghanistan gets on its feet it will not be isolated by foreign influence. in addition, we will not have to bargain with Russia on important issues in europe, also when and if both Iraq and Afghanistan get on its feet, you have American influence on both sides of Iran. And Imagine the cost of the consequences if we fail in Afganistan and at warding off Russia. And lastly, I think Uzbekistan is a solid pick as opposed to the other ‘Stans because it is the most influential and successful country in its region.

So, this is where I open the forum to all of you. I want to know what you guys think about all this. Am I alone in seeing the long term dangers in this situation? Do you think I am totally wrong? or do you agree, maybe with some exceptions? I patiently await your well thought out opinions and arguements :)

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14 Answers

kevbo's avatar

The assumption is that Russia pressured or enticed Krygyzstan to close its American base by offering them a deal. Probably it’s true, but neither article proves it to be—it’s guilt by association. Regardless, Krygyzstan is making the decision about use of its air base as a sovereign nation, and there’s been a change of government (and possibly a change in public sentiment) in Krygystan since the base opened. More info about the base.

I don’t know enough about the situation to understand the supply line arrangement with Russia, especially since Russia doesn’t border Afghanistan.

I think the last line in the Times article sums up most of my thinking on the issue. Russia and many other countries are wary (and weary) of American imperialism in the Middle East. Frankly, I find the characterization of Russian statements and actions in this article to be fairly propagandistic (as if we are dealing with Klingons or something). It’s like “gosh, aren’t they weird and backwards for trying to check our desire for unmitigated influence in the region?”

The Middle East conflict, in my mind, is about control of oil, control of heroin production, and control of populations with the notions of fighting terrorism and spreading democracy as cover stories. I also don’t believe the goal is to win in the traditional sense but to stretch out this conflict as long as possible. See here and here, and here (scroll down to “Intelligences Lapses or Flawed Strategy?”). Until I’m convinced otherwise, I remain fairly skeptical of “our mission” and tolerant of other nations asserting their own interests.

wundayatta's avatar

There are dangers, but I don’t think they are what you think they are. I don’t know why you think Afghanistan is so important. Perhaps we need to keep it from becoming more of a terrorist factory than it already is, but if we plan to stay there, we have to plan to stay there forever. The mountains are too remote to be able to get rid of all the guerillas. We can’t de talibanize all the villages in all the provinces unless we bring in a population of soldiers that is maybe half the size of the Afghanian population. Every nation that ever tried to take over the place has failed, and we are deluded if think we’ll be any different.

Russia is a whole different situation. They are pseudo-capitalistic now. They have oil, now. Unfortunately for them, oil isn’t quite the political or economic lever it used to be. Now, that will eventually change, but not for years. Russia does miss it’s old empire, and they don’t feel safe without control in the boundary nations. They are now seeking to use their economic power to bring these nations into line. However, the border nations are not all sure they want to be in the Russian basket, and are seeking NATO membership as a protection. This is very threatening to Russia. I’m not sure that their inclusion would be good for NATO, so I think their status should remain as pending for the foreseeable future.

As to an airbase on the south side of Russia, I’m not sure it’s worth getting into a bidding war over Uzbekistan or any other “stan” in the region. We don’t need to be there at all. If we have any interest in the region, we are shooting ourselves in the foot by expressing that interest violently. If we want real change, it has to be done without violence, using education and commercial incentives to change. It has to respect the cultures that we want to change, too.

Russia? I don’t think they are the blackguard we have set them up to be. Their economy is still very inefficient. They may have a lot of oil revenue, but that’s greatly diminished, and they won’t be able to fund any social programs they might have to keep the people in the country pacified. Free enterprise is probably only a reality in urban areas, and even then, it’s pseudo free enterprise. Anyway, Russia is going to face internal pressures—the same ones that doomed the USSR—and they might try to bluster their way in the world, but we can safely afford to pat them on the head, and smile benevolently. They will only be a problem if we make them into one.

In case you haven’t gotten it by now, I think our whole approach to foreign policy has to change. It is my belief that every intervention we have engaged in has come back to bite us. The Iranian and Argentinian regimes we used the CIA to install forty and thirty years ago have caused us all kinds of problems. Cuban intervention has created an enemy for decades. Over and over, we see how we bungle things. I’m sure Iraqi and Afghanian interventions will come back to bite us if we don’t change our act right away.

Change has to come with partnership, not hegemony. jeez, I really love some of the phrases I come up with in the process of answering questions If the US is still the most powerful nation in the world, I don’t know what that means when we have few friends, and those friends are holding their collective noses to stand near us.

My nation has a smell to it, but we can clean our act up. I am hopeful that Obama will do it, but I am afraid there are too many vested interests and too many secrets in the black budget for him to be able to root out…. well, whatever needs to be changed. I sure hope we can pull ourselves out of this cesspool. I am tired of eating our own shit.

TaoSan's avatar

@kevbo

I couldn’t have said it any better!

@daloon

They have oil, now. Unfortunately for them, oil isn’t quite the political or economic lever it used to be

I beg to differ, quite strongly actually. Now that it is finally established that peak production of oil is in the past and our reserves are dwindling, and now that the billion Chinese people who never had one finally are able to get a car, oil has become THE political/economic lever per se.

I strongly strongly recommend A Crude Awakening , one of the best documentaries ever made about the “real” oil situation.

It is my belief that every intervention we have engaged in has come back to bite us.

Amen to that daloon, I couldn’t agree more. Maybe our definition of the alleged “freedom and democracy” we spread throughout the world is perceived as something quite different by the “receivers”.

kevbo's avatar

Oil, Smoke and Mirrors is another good’n.

wundayatta's avatar

@TaoSan: I was thinking in the short term, during the current global recession. You are right, of course, that eventually we will come out of recession, and the power of oil will increase. But that is then and this is now.

TaoSan's avatar

@daloon

Actually, no, I didn’t mean recession-wise. I meant that even with alternative fuels on the rise, consumption is rising even faster.

Twenty years ago some smart people predicted that the world’s oil is basically running out, they were laughed out of seminars and conferences. Now we have proof, that we have indeed already passed peak-production, meaning oil is becoming less and less at more and more cost to get it out of the ground. There simply isn’t any new oil. It takes a lot of dinosaurs and trees compressed over a loooooong time to make oil. We just ran out of dinosaurs.

Most people think of transportation fuel when they think of oil, forgetting that every single plastic bag, most cosmetics and many other everyday items are somehow connected to crude oil.

Considering this, another factor is that for the last 40 years the United States have been the largest consumer of oil, there was no competition. But now, the Russians are growing, the Chinese are developing a ridiculous appetite for oil and many other 3rd world nations are now creating infrastructures demanding oil.

Geopolitically, oil is THE single-most important factor there is. Try to think of it this way, many people keep to the old adage “Money makes the world go round”. In all actuality though this is wrong, because in order to “create” money you need something, access to cheap energy.

Money is really just a “storing media” for the transfer/exchange of value., before this transfer/exchange occurs, there is energy, regardless on if it is transportation fuel needed to deliver goods, or electricity to power the stock exchange. Many people fail to see, that before there can be money, there has to be energy. Unfortunately, in our stupidity, we have become entirely dependent on oil, as for the longest time it was the only “feasible” form of energy capable of delivering to an ever-increasing demand.

LKidKyle1985's avatar

@kevbo those are def some interesting links and I also wonder if things have been intentionally prolonged for unknown ends. I also think the articles I linked are a little biased and russia isn’t really out of line. And yes the conflict in iraq is mostly about oil. While spreading democracy is one of the justifications (though obviously not the motivation), the real purpose of spreading democracy is to control those oil supplied. I think the assumption is if there is a democracy in the middle east, they are most likely going to trade their oil to the U.S., and also hopefully bring “stability” to that region as well. However the claim about wanting to control heroin as the reason why we went into Afghanistan I find kinda far fetched just because opium and heroin seems trivial compared to oil in regards to maintaining basic functions and the security of our country. I mean if the government is interested in heroin for the money, that doesnt make sense because we can just print it if we need it, and its not like we need to sell it to get foreign currency, our currency is what everyone already wants. And last, controling afganistan might dent, but not cease heroin and opium production.

@daloon I actually don’t think afghanistan is that important, however the major concern would be the soon to be 50,000 troops we will have stationed there. If they get cut off and are not easily ressuplied or evacuated you would have a serious situation. And actually Alexander the Great successfully conquered afganistan, just because it hasn’t been done recently shouldn’t mean its impossible. And also, you do not need a massive force of troops to settle an insurgency. The British proved this during the Malayan Emergency. It is not so much what you fight an insurgency with, but how you fight it. The U.S. failed at this in vietnam, and until very recently, were failing in Iraq. I think its interesting to look at how the U.K. was able to secure there region of Iraq more succesfully and quickly than the U.S. I think it would be a false assumption that it was just because they had an “easier” region.

Also, you are right that region probably isn’t really worth it to start a bidding war, the only thing is since we are bogged down in afghanistan, it would def be smart to have positive influence in that area. Thats all im saying, the benefits are many if our goal is to pursue a stable afghanistan.

I pretty much agree with the other things you said, all though not every country the U.S. installs goverments in are epic failurs. Of course you only haer about the bad ones, but it makes you wonder how many went off without a hitch. South Korea is a good example, and Japans current goverment is in place because we were gonna nuke them till they surrendered. So I am just sayin, there are probably a lot of countries the U.S. had their dirty paws in. :D

@TaoSan spot on about oil.

kevbo's avatar

The CIA uses the heroin trade to fund off-the-books operations. See here and here and similarly here.

LKidKyle1985's avatar

hm very interesting kevbo, I never thought about off the books stuff. I’m watching the video in that second link now. Thanks for the links.

kevbo's avatar

No problem. Just make sure you don’t go so deep down the rabbit hole that you can’t see the light of day.

LKidKyle1985's avatar

lol, its funny you mention that. The matrix is exactly what came to mind when I started reading into all this stuff.

LKidKyle1985's avatar

Maaaan, go to about 1:16 on that second link. Sounds like I was pretty spot on regarding the importance of Uzbekistan. I feel kind of smart….

kevbo's avatar

This article seems to provide a three dimensional perspective.

LKidKyle1985's avatar

ah they want me to subscribe to view it :(

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