Washington's plans for CENTRAL ASIA

Discussion in 'Americas' started by sorcerer, Apr 13, 2015.

  1. sorcerer

    sorcerer Senior Member Senior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2013
    Messages:
    6,203
    Likes Received:
    5,114
    Location:
    India
    The Hoagland-Blinken Doctrine Is Washington’s Updated Plan For Central Asia (I)

    Eurasianet.org’s Joshua Kucera first reported on two important speeches by the State Department that supposedly heralded in a new policy towards Central Asia. The announcements were made within one day of each other by Richard Hoagland, the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, and Antony Blinken, the Deputy Secretary of State. Considering that George Soros’ Open Society Foundation openly operates the website, the summarized claim that the US is interested mostly in counter-terrorism and economic cooperation was immediately met with suspicion by the author, who felt it pressing to examine the primary sources being referenced to see what’s fully being mentioned within them. The result is that both State Department officials presented not necessarily a new policy, but rather an updated one full of geopolitical jealousy and Color Revolution undertones.

    The first part of the article begins by describing the US’ self-stated goals in the region, followed by addressing Washington’s aforementioned geopolitical jealousies as they pertain to Russia and China, and analyzing the Color Revolution plans laid bare in the Hoagland-Blinken Doctrine. Part II then explores the more technical aspects of the US’ designs, focusing on the two main infrastructure projects it wants to spearhead. Finally, it ends by addressing the US’ intended Lead From Behind partners for Central Asia.

    Security And Stability? No, Geostrategy, Resources, And Markets!
    [​IMG]
    Richard E. Hoagland
    Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary
    BUREAU OF SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIAN AFFAIRS


    The Hoagland-Blinken Doctrine is admittedly one of projecting the US’ geostrategic interests in the region and securing its natural resources and market potential. For example, when describing why Central Asia is important to the US, Hoagland reminds everyone that it “shares borders with Afghanistan, China, Russia, and Iran – this is an “interesting” neighborhood, to say the least”, and that “if nothing else, geography makes Central Asia critically important for the United States.” He then lists off the energy and market characteristics of this geostrategic region that would make any Neo-Con drool:

    “Further, the region is awash in natural resources:

    • Turkmenistan has the fourth-largest natural gas reserves in the world;
    • Kazakhstan has the second-largest oil reserves of the former Soviet Union, second only to Russia;
    • Uzbekistan is a major producer of uranium (as is Kazakhstan) and has large natural gas reserves, as does, quite likely, Tajikistan;
    • And Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan have significant hydropower potential.

    But the economies of Central Asia are more than the sum of their energy-generating potential:
    • Kazakhstan pursued fundamental macro-economic reform from the beginning and has now created a financial services hub for the region.
    • Uzbekistan’s educated population of 30 million has a huge potential to provide entrepreneurial, innovative economic growth.
    • Kyrgyzstan implemented democratic structures from the beginning and to this day remains the test case for democracy in Central Asia.
    • And Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan’s natural beauty could attract throngs of trekkers from Boise to Beijing, powering a thriving tourism sector, as could Uzbekistan’s great Silk Road cities of Samarkand, Bohkhara, and Khiva.”


    While the Doctrine does briefly make mention counter-terrorism and other security-related shared goals, such references are rare and by no means embody the core of the policy. Rather, more attention is paid by both men to the objectives of economic integration and ‘democracy/human rights’ promotion. Take for example what Blinken said were the “two distinct ideas” that guide America’s policy towards Central Asia:

    “First, that our own security is enhanced by a more stable, secure Central Asia that contributes to global efforts to combat terrorism and violent extremism; and second, that stability can best be achieved if the nations of Central Asia are sovereign and independent countries, fully capable of securing their borders, connected with each another and with the emerging economies of Asia, and benefitting from governments that are accountable to their citizens.”



    He then says that “we have three important objectives for our engagement with each of the Central Asian states: strengthening partnerships to advance mutual security; forging closer economic ties; and advancing and advocating for improved governance and human rights”. For his part, Hoagland talks about the US’ “four critical areas of cooperation and concentration in Central Asia – security cooperation, economic ties, promotion of human rights and good governance, and efforts to bolster each country’s sovereignty and independence.” It will be revealed in this series that all of his talk about economic integration and ‘democracy/human rights’ promotion was just a simple allusion to geopolitical jealousy and Color Revolution motives, while the references to “sovereignty and independence” are code words for sabotaging Russian-led integration and pragmatic policies towards Moscow.

    Geopolitical Jealousy

    The US is reeling with jealousy over Russia and China’s strategic advancements in Central Asia, and it doesn’t do much to hide its feelings.

    Russia:

    Washington is outraged with Moscow over its reunification with Crimea, and Blinken embodies the Beltway’s hysteria when he says that “Russia’s actions on its periphery, including its violation of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine, threaten the very foundation of international order – not only in the region, not only in Europe, but beyond and around the world…They are threatening the fundamental principles that we all have a stake in defending in Europe and, indeed, around the world.” He then decries what he terms as Russia’s “linguistic nationalism”, while forgetting that it’s actually the US which is guilty of this crime per its 1990s destruction of the Balkans and authoritative ‘academic’ decree (enforced by NATO) that Bosnians, Croats, and Serbs are different people and languages intrinsically incapable of living side-by-side in harmony.

    Another major point is that the US is clearly jealous of Russia’s success at post-Soviet integration through the Eurasian Union. Hoagland, for example, says the US wants “to help connect Central Asia to lucrative external markets in Europe and Asia”, while obviously not mentioning that this is exactly the purpose behind the Eurasian Union. When he remarks that “the United States is doing its part to help build those markets and links…which focuses on improving north-south energy markets, trade and transport infrastructure, customs and borders procedures, and business networks”, he’s purposeful omitting the fact that the Eurasian Union and Shanghai Cooperation Organization already fulfill these roles.

    Showing how out of touch with reality his ideology has made him, Hoagland says that “we encourage the Eurasian Economic Union to follow the successful, open model of the European Union and not establish new trade barriers”, which is laughable precisely because the EU has enacted globally notorious trade barriers against Russia ever since the ‘sanctions war’ began (to unintended consequences). To top off the jealous lunacy, Blinken, his ideologue-in-arms, says that “we’re not telling countries that they shouldn’t join (the Eurasian Union)”, yet former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton loudly threatened in 2012 that “There is a move to re-Sovietise the region, it’s not going to be called that. It’s going to be called a customs union, it will be called Eurasian Union and all of that, but let’s make no mistake about it. We know what the goal is and we are trying to figure out effective ways to slow down or prevent it.” Her warning came true when the US engineered the EuroMaidan Color Revolution one year later, and by all indications, it looks like the US is planning to do something similar in Kyrgyzstan this fall.
    [​IMG]

    China:

    Things are kept a bit more civil when the US addresses China’s role in Central Asia, although it doesn’t shy away from passive-aggressive pouting. Both diplomats attempt to assure everyone that there’s no “zero-sum” choice in the region, especially between the US and China, but this is more tactical than true. In the offensive sense, the US clumsily wants to gain the false confidence of Central Asia’s neighbors (which obviously aren’t buying such outright lies of intent), while defensively, it can always resort to the “no zero-sum terms” argument to excuse away any future foreign policy failings in the region.

    This Janus-faced policy is on full display when it comes to China’s Silk Road Economic Belt. Hoagland says that “China’s development of energy, road, and transport infrastructure in Central Asia can be consistent with and fully complementary to U.S. efforts” before complaining that “because international companies are more likely to invest when they can compete on a level playing field, we need to ensure that the emerging regulatory architecture in the region meets international standards.” What he’s really saying here is that “international standards” are synonymous to the US government with ‘Western standards’, and since the latter weren’t in effect and/or didn’t result in the desired outcome of American contractors, then there’s some kind of ‘unlevel’ playing field discriminating against the US that must be remedied by “cooperating with the governments of Central Asia to help create institutions that meet those international standards” (i.e. ‘democracy promotion’ and Color Revolutions).

    Blinken is the more passive-aggressive of the two officials towards China when he talks about the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), which Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan have joined:

    “Our concern with the bank is this: We don’t oppose it; to the contrary. The more investment you can bring in infrastructure in the region, in Asia more broadly, we think the better. It’s desperately needed. It’s a foundation for economic progress. But as I suggested earlier, how it happens is vitally important, and so the concerns that we’ve had about the infrastructure investment bank really go to its own standards. What are the governance rules of the bank? What role does the board of directors play? What are the standards that it would advance in terms of worker rights, environmental protections, intellectual property, capital requirements, things of that nature?… What we don’t want to see happen is some kind of race to the bottom where the standards are diluted, and that’s been our only concern.”

    What he’s indirectly accusing China of is creating an international kleptocracy, which ironically is exactly what the West built with the IMF and World Bank, the two American-controlled institutions that the AIIB is set to rival. Aside from this swipe and a few less significant ones, the Hoagland-Blinken Doctrine largely steers clear of directly confronting China, largely out of an understanding that its growing economic gravity in Central Asia is a fait accompli that must be recognized as a regional reality (if it can’t be overturned with a series of Color Revolutions or Euro-Indian trade, that is).

    The Color Of Chaos

    This section needs to be predicated by Hoagland’s overly defensive and out-of-the-blue assertion that his doctrine has nothing to do with Color Revolutions:

    “This kind of “soft diplomacy” does NOT have as its goal “Color Revolutions,” as Moscow nefariously whispers in Central Asian ears with its onslaught of “black propaganda.” What we simply do is stand with the people of Central Asia who want nothing more than better lives for their children and grandchildren, as do people all over the world.” (emphasis is Hoagland’s)

    The reason he felt so compelled to underline this is because a lot of the doctrine actually does contain Color Revolution planning mechanisms and intent, and due to its obviousness, Hoagland was obligated to at least say the opposite in order to maintain at least an official degree of plausible deniability.

    What could he have said beforehand that would make one suspect that such underhanded regime change tactics are being prepared by Washington? Well, allow the author to reference two of the four “critical areas of cooperation and concentration in Central Asia” that were cited previously cited: “promotion of human rights and good governance, and efforts to bolster each country’s sovereignty and independence”. The latter’s invocation of ‘sovereignty’ is a barely concealed allusion to pressuring the region’s states away from Russia, while the former’s remarks about ‘human rights’ and ‘good governance’ are the grounds on which future Color Revolutions would be justified if anti-Russian policies are not enacted. His buddy Blinken begs the world to believe that:

    “We do not ask any country to choose ties with the U.S. to the exclusion of anyone else. We reject the false choices imposed by anyone else. We fully support the aspirations of Central Asian states to pursue a multi-vector foreign and economic policy.”
    But who can believe such rhetoric when the US’ actions in Ukraine prove the exact opposite? And considering that Ukraine represented Russia’s soft Eastern European frontier, what makes one think the exact same false choice (with all of its destabilizing consequences) under the threat of a EuroMaidan-like Color Revolution 2.0 won’t be forced upon Russia’s soft Central Asian frontier, too? The US is already expanding the physical infrastructure capable of managing Color Revolutions, i.e. its embassies. Look at what Hoagland said early on in his speech:

    “For over a year, we have been saying, “No, we assure you we are NOT going to cut and run! And if you want objective evidence, simply look at the fact that we have built, or are now building, major new, state-of-the-art embassies in every capital of Central Asia. Why would we expend this kind of taxpayers’ money if we weren’t serious about long-term relationships? I want to emphasize: the U.S. diplomatic presence in Central Asia is not temporary; it’s enduring long into the future.” (emphasis is Hoagland’s)

    Think the US hasn’t built up a Color Revolutionary cadre over the years? Well, Hoagland would beg to differ, proudly boasting that:

    “Here’s an interesting factoid. Over the last 23 years, well over 24,000 citizens of Central Asia have come to the United States on State Department-funded exchange programs. They have gone on to become high-ranking government officials, effective community leaders, and successful business pioneers. We are very pleased for them. We’re investing in people to drive the region’s growth and evolution, because we know how important this region is to our own interests.”

    Let’s remember that Richard Miles, the ‘Male Nuland’ of Color Revolutions, became the Executive Director for the Open World Leadership Center for most of 2006, during which he fostered the creation of thousands of pro-American ‘leaders’ in the former Soviet Union, including Central Asia. This Color Revolutionary mastermind hasn’t even retired from his regime-changing job yet…well, he did, until he was recalled out of retirement to become the charge d’affaires in Kyrgyzstan. Why the urgency to send him to Kyrgyzstan, out of all places? Besides the fact that the country occupies the premier geostrategic position in the region, it’s also slated for legislative elections in October, which would be its first vote after it joins the Eurasian Union in May. Remember that earlier reference to Hillary Clinton’s threat “to figure out effective ways to slow down or prevent [Eurasian Union integration]”? Well, it seems that Kyrgyzstan is the next country on the roll-back list after the US’ recent ‘success’ in Ukraine, and truth be told, it might even be more susceptible to the coming Color Revolution carnage than Ukraine was.

    Blinken brags that:

    “One of the things we’re very proud of is having hosted nearly 80 percent of Kyrgyz parliamentarians here in the United States, where they discuss the responsibilities of public service with American officials and representatives of civil society. Time and again, we have seen the value of building these lifelong relationships – helping to expand the marketplace of ideas and foster greater democratic ethos.”

    Going even further, he then adds that “In Kyrgyzstan, 40 members of parliament recently participated in more than 30 town hall meetings across the country”. In and of itself, the town hall meetings don’t necessarily portend anything negative, however, they can easily be weaponized on a grassroots level to divide local communities along ethnic and political lines in agitating for Color Revolutions and subsequent pogroms (of which Kyrgyzstan unfortunately already has a tragic history). In fact, the most critical demographic for the success of any forthcoming Color Revolution is already in place, as Blinken proudly states that “Today, Central Asia is not only bursting with resources, but brimming with youthful, entrepreneurial potential. A full half of its population is under the age of 30.”

    The combination of the State Department’s prior threat to unravel the Eurasian Union, Kyrgyzstan’s upcoming electoral vulnerability, the US government’s close contacts with Kyrgyz Parliamentarians, proto-Color Revolution ‘town hall’ meetings, ‘perfect’ demographic conditions, and the out-of-retirement placement of Color Revolutionary mastermind Richard Miles as charges d’affaires in Bishkek foreshadows all-but-guaranteed chaos in Central Asia.

    How does the US ‘justify’ this through the prism of the Hoagland-Blinken Doctrine? Among a couple other factors, Blinken decrees that “governments that are accountable to their citizens” are a foundation of regional security, which is American political jargon for democracy promotion in an area that doesn’t want it. One should also recall Blinken’s earlier-referenced listing of the US’ “three important objectives for [its] engagement with each of the Central Asian states”, since “advancing and advocating for improved governance and human rights” is one of them.

    That’s not all, though, since Blinken also says that “a critical aspect of our foreign policy is advancing the democratic values that we share with people all over the world, including in Central Asia. These values are at the very core of our engagement with the region.” What kind of values, one may ask? “Greater respect for human rights, a stronger voice for civil society, and greater religious freedom”, all of which in actual American political practice mean threatening countries with sanctions, holding the threat of Color Revolutions over their heads, and agitating for the acceptance and legal proselytization of radical Saudi-controlled Wahhbist movements.

    Blinken isn’t too pleased with the region’s rejection of American ‘values’, so he said that “Progress has been halting, but I believe we are better able to address these difficult issues because we are present and engaged with these governments and their civil society.” The vehicle that Blinken specifies is to be used in carrying out the aforementioned civil society engagement is a regime change program rolled out by President Obama in 2013, the Stand with Civil Society initiative, which will allow the US to “continue to support civil society and its ability to serve communities and speak up for peaceful change without government interference”. Part of the change that he’s referring to is that the US will “continue to advocate for free media and more open political systems”, which translates into an expansion of the planned-to-be-upgraded US propaganda mediums into the region and consequently even more unwanted external tinkering in domestic affairs.

    All of this is expected to generate ‘controlled chaos’ in the heart of Russia, China, and Iran’s vulnerable periphery, which would be the latest manifestation of the US’ modus operandi in key geopolitical theaters across the world.


    To be continued…

    Andrew Korybko is the political analyst and journalist for Sputnik who currently lives and studies in Moscow, exclusively for ORIENTAL REVIEW.

    The Hoagland-Blinken Doctrine Is Washington’s Updated Plan For Central Asia (I)�|�Oriental Review
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2015
  2.  
  3. sorcerer

    sorcerer Senior Member Senior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2013
    Messages:
    6,203
    Likes Received:
    5,114
    Location:
    India
    The Hoagland-Blinken Doctrine Is Washington’s Updated Plan For Central Asia (II)


    The first part of the article examined the US’ stated goals in Central Asia, its geopolitical jealousy of Russia and China for their successes there, and the Color Revolution infrastructure that it’s building in the region. The concluding piece contains an overview and strategic forecast about the Lapis Lazuli Corridor and CASA-1000 projects and commentary on the Hoagland-Blinken Doctrine’s inferred Lead From Behind partners (both willing and unintentional), before summing everything up in a brief concluding section.
    “The New Silk Road”


    The two American dignitaries boast about Washington’s plans for a “New Silk Road”, which is envisioned to provide the basis for intra- and inter-regional integration. Realistically speaking, most of this plan (which was never that feasible for the US) is already rendered null and void by the Russia’s Eurasian Union and China’s Silk Road Economic Belt, but there are still two important projects which have the potential for some sort of success:

    The Lapis Lazuli Corridor:

    This little-known plan was given all but one sentence in Hoagland’s speech, yet it’s extremely important and needs to be explained in detail. He said that “[Afghan President Ghani] then spoke of the Lapis Lazuli Corridor (during his recent visit to Washington), which would run through Afghanistan and Turkmenistan, across the Caspian to Georgia, and on to Turkey and Europe.” It may be that Hoagland excluded any further commentary on this branch of the “New Silk Road” owing to its deeper strategic significance, and not wanting to draw unnecessary attention to something that is largely ignored by the Russian and Chinese press despite its importance for American regional policy.

    [​IMG]

    Afghanistan’s Chamber of Commerce describes the Lapis Lazuli Corridor (LLC) as such:

    “The Lapis Lazuli begins from Aqina in northern Faryab province and Turqundi in western Herat province of Afghanistan and continues to Turkmenbashi of Turkmenistan and after passing Caspian Sea, arrives Baku, the Azerbaijan’s capital and then it connects Baku to Tbilisi, Georgia’s capital and also to the ports of Polti and Batumi of Georgia. And then get cities of Kars and Istanbul of Turkey and finally ends Europe.”

    What’s not said but should be vividly understood by any regional observer is that this represents a modified institutionalization of the Northern Distributional Network (NDN), the de-facto conceptual successor to moving goods in/out of Afghanistan via trans-Caspian and trans-Caucasus shipping. Having at one time represented the US’ logistical sprawl during the main years of the Afghan War, it’s now poised for a resurgence of importance in becoming the US’ lifeline of influence into the region.

    Its geography dictates that it touches upon the US’ key security constellation in the Caucasus (Azerbaijan-Georgia-Turkey) through which the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline, the South Caucasus gas pipeline, and the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railroad already traverse. All three projects also serve fundamental American strategic goals, and it’s expected that the LLC will complement this existing infrastructure and serve to integrate the three countries even more. While Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan are not explicitly mentioned as members of this new framework, considering the fact that they already have the road and rail infrastructure necessary to facilitate the movement of various goods (and have a tried-and-true record of doing so through the NDN in the past), it’s likely they may also become conduits along this route, especially in the event that chaos envelops the Turkmen-Afghan frontier.

    Furthermore, this alternate (or complementary) route appears even more likely when one realizes that the Germans are still basing 300 soldiers in Termez, Uzbekistan, right on the Afghan border and at the beginning of Central Asia’s NDN rail route. This force could be used to safeguard the path in the event of massive domestic destabilization concentrated in the country’s more populated eastern regions. Should it come under fire during the conflagration or perhaps even by Taliban or other terrorist insurgents that have found their way into the country, then the 12,000 NATO soldiers remaining in Afghanistan could rapidly come to their ‘aid’ and bolster their presence along the Uzbek portion of the railroad.

    It must be said that all of the abovementioned infrastructural designs could possibly be rendered obsolete (although it doesn’t mean they won’t still be used in some capacity) if the 30 June Iranian nuclear deal deadline is reached, as Tehran would then be in a commanding position to offer a more efficient route for Afghan and Central Asian goods to both the European-destined Turkish transport hub and the Indian Ocean. This possibility will be discussed in the next section when the series addresses the Hoagland-Blinken Doctrine’s envisioned Lead From Behind partners in the region, although it must be said that any means in which Iran indirectly supports American strategic policy in Central Asia would most likely be the unintentional collateral sum of Tehran’s expanding infrastructure ties with the region and the cessation of international sanctions on the country. No matter if that’s the case or not, however, the result of assisting American objectives (even if they are different and less impactful than those described above) is still the same.

    CASA-1000:

    Background and Context

    Just as the LLC was given only one sentence in Hoagland’s speech, so too was CASA-1000 provided the same light treatment in Blinken’s, showing what may perhaps be a pattern of the US underplaying its latest strategic initiatives. However, unlike the LCC, CASA-1000 has fewer prospects for physical success and represents something more along the lines of a strategic backup plan that may or may not be implemented in the future.

    [​IMG]

    To begin with, CASA-1000 is an abbreviation for the partially World Bank-funded “Central Asia South Asia Electricity Transmission and Trade Project” that is supposed to transfer at least 1,000 megawatts of hydroelectric-generated energy from Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to Afghanistan and Pakistan during the summer months after its completion. The problem with the project, despite its ambition, is that Kyrgyzstan is currently undergoing on energy crisis and is unable to provide its necessary 30% contribution to the project’s overall hydroelectric supply. The Diplomat, in its commentary on this portion of the Hoagland-Blinken Doctrine, questions whether the project could go forward with Tajikistan being the sole energy provider, mentioning that this scenario hasn’t even attempted to be explained by Washington. Supposing that this challenge can be surmounted, there’s still the issue with Central Asian energy only being provided during the summer months when an excess of hydroelectric power generation makes the project possible, thus imposing a severe limitation on the entire project.

    Having touched upon the problems and constraints of CASA-1000, it’s now time to look at the strategic advantages its completion would provide for the US. It’s understood that the project’s feasibility is also contingent on the construction of hydroelectric dams in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan that the downstream state of Uzbekistan has strongly objected to in the past. As it stands, Russia and the World Bank are both supportive of Tajikistan’s plans to build the Rogun Dam (the project Uzbekistan is most ardently against), with the former likely being so due to political-strategic reasons vis-à-vis Uzbekistan and overall Eurasian integration, while the latter has certified that the environmental impact can be mitigated and could thus possibility provide a loan to finance the rest of the project’s costs.

    Up until now, Tajikistan has had to depend on contributions from its citizens, with Russia reluctant to provide solid financial backing out concern that this would eliminate once and for all its trump card in restoring relations with regional military powerhouse Uzbekistan. Should Russia provide more than strategic and political support for this project and fully fund the rest of the endeavor (no matter how advantageous it is for its overall objectives), then it would lose the last significant opportunity to effect an Uzbek pivot, or at the very least, have Tashkent provide Moscow with an ear to listen to its concerns. Uzbekistan has been moving closer to the US as of late and could potentially become its Lead from Behind designator for the region, hence why it’s important for Russia to still have some options on the table for keeping bilateral relations stable. Right now, given the diplomatic complexity of Russian-Uzbek relations, Moscow has chosen a wait-and-see approach to Rogun, providing strong diplomatic and strategic support on the backend, but officially behaving hands-off in the public eye and letting the project develop on its own per Tajikistan’s initiatives, not Russia’s. This gives Moscow the saving face necessary to maintain cordial diplomatic ties with Tashkent while simultaneously promoting its own regional objectives.

    Pivot Potential

    While it doesn’t look like the US-Uzbek and Russian-Kyrgyz-Tajik configuration is going to change anytime soon, a regional trade-off between Russia and the US for regional allies wouldn’t be completely unprecedented. To explain, consider that Russia would ideally like to integrate the entirety of the Central Asian space into the Eurasian Union, especially since Uzbekistan presents the most formidable economic and military opportunities in the region. At the same time, Uzbekistan is inarguably close to America nowadays, but it’s still strategically dependent on the Russian-aligned upstream states of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan for the water sources that power its economy and provide for its people, which would only deepen with the construction of the hydroelectric dams necessary to power CASA-1000 and the possible lessening of downstream supply.

    If somehow Russia manages to make breakthrough inroads with Uzbekistan in hammering out their regional visionary differences and come to some type of implicit accord, then the US can immediately interject itself by offering to fund the remainder of the Rogun Dam’s costs or by offering some kind of other large-scale assistance in its construction. The purpose behind Washington’s obtrusive intervention would be to draw a line between Uzbekistan and Tajikistan (both of which would at that point be understood to have come to agreement with Russia’s integrational objectives) and Russia and Tajikistan, knowing that this would break the delicate agreement that Moscow had brokered between its allies. Of course, the US would only sacrifice its immensely strategic relations with Uzbekistan if it felt they could not be (easily) recovered from Russia, but should it be able to pull off another Color Revolution in Kyrgyzstan, it could capitalize off of its newfound high-ground ally and the geographic split between the Eurasian Union and Tajikistan to try to rapidly bring Dushanbe into the fold as well.

    One should remember that downstream Uzbekistan is ultimately dependent on Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan’s water supplies, and that the Great Power which exercises influence over these states indirectly controls the Uzbek economy (especially if the dams are eventually built). The consequence of a combined Color Revolution in Kyrgyzstan with a near-simultaneous US Rogun pivot to Tajikistan would surely lead to war with Uzbekistan, which in this overall scenario would result in fractious chaos in Central Asia that would shatter Russia’s integration plans. Could such a ‘switch off’ between allies happen? Well, something similar occurred with the US and the USSR over Ethiopia and Somalia during the 1977-1978 Ogaden War, whereby Moscow switched its support to Addis-Ababa and Washington in turn flipped towards Mogadishu in a stunning and relatively sudden reversal of regional geopolitics. Such a reconfiguration may not have been premeditated, but it still happened nonetheless, meaning that such scenarios mustn’t be precluded by astute decision makers.

    Contingent On A Pivot (Or Lack Thereof)

    Another absolutely crucial issue that mustn’t be precluded is whether or not the Hoagland-Blinken Doctrine’s envisioned Lead From Behind partners will succeed in their outlined mission. The probability is still up for grabs, but nonetheless, because the Doctrine alludes to both Turkey and Iran serving this role, this topic must be addressed in full.

    Turkey:
    Blinken doesn’t include Ankara in his joint doctrine with Hoagland until prompted to by Strobe Talbott, former Deputy Secretary of State from 1994-2001 and his self-admitted mentor who was present in the audience and largely presided over and dominated the Q&A session. The following brief exchange definitely needs to be highlighted and analyzed:

    “MR. TALBOTT: Which brings to mind one other country, and then we will go to Johannes. I remember Turgut Ozal, at the time that the USSR was disintegrating, making no secret of a Turkish dream, given the Turkic influences in the region that we’re talking about. What is – how is Turkey seen today, particularly given some of the tumult that’s going on there?

    DEPUTY SECRETARY BLINKEN: It’s a good question and frankly one that I’m almost more comfortable asking of our partners in the region. I don’t want to necessarily suggest how they’re seeing Turkey. I think you’re right about Turkey’s interest and ambition. It’s also true that the Turks have a tremendous amount on their hands in their immediate environs right now, and that’s challenging.

    But the bottom line, at least from our perspective, again, is this is not about creating false choices or imposing choices on our partners in Central Asia. One of the differences that we bring to the table is a profound and strong belief that our partners have a right to make their own decisions and make their own choices about the future. And if that involves us, so much the better. But if it involves other countries in the region, that is their decision.”

    The first thought that comes to mind is that Blinken didn’t refrain from unnecessarily suggesting how Central Asian states are seeing Russia, having earlier gone on and on about how he imagines that they “fear” Moscow ever since the reunification with Crimea. The hypocritical bias that’s on full display in this instance is indicative of a clear strategic preference by the State Department over which states should and shouldn’t have influence in Central Asia. Turkey’s deepening soft power involvement in Central Asia doesn’t compete with the US’ strategic objectives, it furthers them, since the essence of Lead From Behind is that the US relies on proxy entities to carry out its policies and overall will in targeted geostrategic regions. Ideally, the US would like for Turkey’s Neo-Ottoman foreign policy to penetrate across the Caspian and into the heart of the former empire’s ethnic affiliates. This would assist Ankara in spreading the subversive and terrorist Muslim Brotherhood, the latest proxy group that it’s taken patronage of, throughout the region in order to undermine the associated governments and establish an anchor of influence that could only be expelled via forcible means that would further destabilize those states.

    One of the key components of the American strategy is to have Turkmen gas (the reserves of which are among the world’s largest) enter the European market via a Turkish hub in order to assist with anti-Russian energy diversification. Ankara and Ashgabat already signed a deal last November to bring the latter’s gas to Europe through the TANAP pipeline, but the lingering question has always been how to bridge the geographic divide between the two countries. While some have spoken of a trans-Caspian pipeline, the lack of maritime delineation between Iran on one hand, and Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan on the other makes this all but impossible pending a forthcoming agreement on the Sea (which even then could result in the sea being designated as a lake, and as such, all of its profits [and possibly decisions] would have to be shared). The proto-deal with Iran could surprisingly change the calculation, however, and facilitate a Turkish-Iranian-Turkmen energy axis that would do away with the Caspian complication and also work out to Iran’s benefit as well (whereas the trans-Caspian pipeline would have been to its absolute detriment).

    No matter which way Ankara does it, if Turkey is able to craft an infrastructural foothold in Central Asia via Turkmenistan, then it could use this as a springboard for pumping its soft power and political influence deeper into the region (a ‘reverse pipeline’, if one can call it that). However, Turkey’s role as one of the US’ two Lead From Behind partners in the area is contingent on it not pivoting away from the West and towards Eurasia, which has increasingly become a plausible possibility in the past year. Should that happen, then the Turkish-Iranian-Turkmen energy axis could turn against the US’ grand strategy and present an asymmetrical threat to the unipolar world instead of a complementary component, although the Brzezinski-esque threat posed by the Muslim Brotherhood virus could still be exploited as a unipolar weapon, whether intentional or not.

    Iran:

    As with Turkey, Iran isn’t mentioned much in the Hoagland-Blinken Doctrine, but this shouldn’t be taken to mean that it doesn’t occupy an important envisioned strategic role. Hoagland only briefly comments, almost as an aside, that:

    “Central Asia’s geography also places it in close proximity to Iran, a country that shares many ancient cultural and economic ties with Central Asia. We are aware that there are areas on which Iran’s Central Asian neighbors need cooperation, such as water conservation, desertification, and countering the trade of illicit narcotics. So we hope that Iran finds a productive way to work with its Central Asian neighbors.”

    Blinken also has barely anything to say about Iran, muttering that:

    “Iran’s historic and cultural ties to the region are deep and longstanding, and for countries that are increasingly focused on their connectivity to the rest of the world, Iran stands as a potential gateway to Europe as well as a maritime route to Asia.”

    Later, in response to one of Talbott’s talking-point questions, he elaborates that:

    “Depending on Iran’s evolution over the next years or more, it could be Iran as well, as a gateway to Europe, as a gateway to India.”

    While they may not seem like much, these small statements are loaded with strategic meaning and hint at the White House’s future plans for Iran in a post-deal world. It should be said that the author wrote a forecast back in mid-November touching upon some of the strategic risks for Tehran inherent in any kind of nuclear deal with the US, such as the soft vulnerabilities of Western trade dependency and NGO infiltration. These warnings are still relevant today and they demonstrate some of the measures by which the West can gain influence over Iran even against Tehran’s will. The reason is that Iran doesn’t have to intentionally pivot towards the US (although this is what America would ultimately prefer, despite its near-impossible odds), since Washington can exploit the regional moves that Tehran makes to further its own advantage in a post-deal (non-sanctioned) world.

    In the event that a final deal is reached before 30 June (which would signify a global pivot for all the Great Powers in some sense, the pivot on which the following is dependent), the US actually wants there to be as much infrastructure connecting Iran to Central Asia as possible owing to the geographic efficiency in using the country as a conduit for facilitating interregional connectivity (ergo the “gateway to Europe, as a gateway to India” comments). Iran would thus become the gatekeeper to Central Asia’s exports to the outside world and Europe and India’s imports to the heart of Asia, which would be an arrangement equally beneficial for both the country and the region. So what can go wrong?

    Plenty, actually. As the case of Cuba clearly shows, the US now seems to be testing a softer, ‘friendlier’ face to its long-term regime change ambitions, and opening up Iran might be the Mideast application of this prototype policy. Everything therefore depends on the effectiveness of the Iranian and Central Asian security services in preventing, identifying, and stopping Color Revolutionary influences from taking hold of their countries and setting up expansive social and physical infrastructure projects. Even though these are still a threat without increased trade traversing their territory, as a typical rule, the more physical foreign influence that moves through a country (such as trade goods), the more likely it is that Color Revolutionary forces will try to exploit this logistics pipeline to infiltrate their target. It’s well-known that the West was behind the 2009 Green Color Revolution attempt in Iran, and although ultimately a failure, it did succeed in rattling the nerves of the security establishment which hadn’t fully prepared for this asymmetrical scenario.

    Even though Iran has obviously made defensive arrangements to guard against a repeat of such contingencies ever since learning from the failed Green Revolution, the US is typically always one step ahead in its Color Revolution innovations, as seen by the terrorist war that followed Syria’s failed Color Revolution or the ultra-violent and hard-core nationalist tactical and strategic ‘modifications’ of EuroMaidan. It already looks like an unconventional war might be heating up in Baluchistan with the killing of 8 Iranian border guards earlier this week (an insurgency that was forecasted by the author in early January), and it’s likely to increase in intensity (and mutate with its methods) as Western covert influence enters the region via new non-sanctioned trade routes to Central Asia.

    Additionally, the greater Iran’s economic dependence becomes in enabling easier Central Asia-European/Indian trade (and reaping some of the benefits, too), the more vulnerable it is to any type of Taliban-ISIL hybrid destabilization targeting Turkmenistan, the projected desert ‘highway’ linking it with the region’s more populous reaches (and notably avoiding anarchic Afghanistan). This also means that it would become vulnerable to any forthcoming destabilization in Uzbekistan, the region’s most populous market, as would its Indian and European partners that the US may try to indirectly affect through prodding this scenario forward (amongst other strategic reasons that it may have). Thus, it’s not to say that Iranian-Central Asian (and consequently, Central Asian-Indian/European) trade networks should not be constructed – not in the least! – but that they must be monitored with extreme vigilance. Crucially, strategic considerations must be at the forefront of Tehran’s thinking in order to prevent such dire scenarios from occurring, mitigate their aftershocks if they do, and avoid overdependence on Central Asian-European-Indian trade and/or Turkish-Iranian-Turkmen energy cooperation.

    Concluding Thoughts

    The Hoagland-Blinken Doctrine is motivated by the US’ geopolitical jealousy against Russia and China’s successful infrastructure and integration advances in Central Asia. Being poorly clothed in cooperative rhetoric, it’s easy to see through the layer of talk and expose what’s underneath the deceptive words and colorful euphemisms. The reality is that “the Emperor has no clothes”, and that after the eloquently spun ‘clothes’ come off and the charade is finally over, the regime change mannequin is laid bare for all to see.

    The US wants to hold the region hostage under the threat of regime change destabilization in order to keep it in check and promote its two infrastructure projects, the Lapis Lazuli Corridor and CASA-1000. It’s banking on Turkey and Iran being its Lead From Behind partners (with Turkey willingly filling this role and Iran unintentionally) in order to indirectly deepen its strategic influence over Central Asia. It can’t conclusively be said which of the examined scenarios will eventually play out or in what exact manner (although the Kyrgyz Color Revolution convincingly appears imminent), but the examined possibilities are based on strategic reasoning, established facts, and most importantly, Hoagland and Blinken’s own words.

    The US is definitely planning to reengage Central Asia like never before, as the construction of state-of-the-art embassies all over the region attest. The unveiling of the Hoagland-Blinken Doctrine is thus no mere coincidence and should be taken to signify a new era of relations between the US and Central Asia. Even if Washington isn’t as successful in its doctrine as it hopes, it can still make an impact simply by retaining a diplomatic and shadow presence in the area. After all, as Blinken himself quipped, “As we all know, 90 percent of life is showing up.”

    Andrew Korybko is the political analyst and journalist for Sputnik who currently lives and studies in Moscow, exclusively for ORIENTAL REVIEW.

    The Hoagland-Blinken Doctrine Is Washington’s Updated Plan For Central Asia (II) | Oriental Review

    ===
    @pmaitra, @jouni, @sgarg, @roma Et al.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 11, 2015
  4. sorcerer

    sorcerer Senior Member Senior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2013
    Messages:
    6,203
    Likes Received:
    5,114
    Location:
    India
    The Hoagland-Blinken Doctrine Is Washington’s Updated Plan For Central Asia (II)


    The first part of the article examined the US’ stated goals in Central Asia, its geopolitical jealousy of Russia and China for their successes there, and the Color Revolution infrastructure that it’s building in the region. The concluding piece contains an overview and strategic forecast about the Lapis Lazuli Corridor and CASA-1000 projects and commentary on the Hoagland-Blinken Doctrine’s inferred Lead From Behind partners (both willing and unintentional), before summing everything up in a brief concluding section.
    “The New Silk Road”


    The two American dignitaries boast about Washington’s plans for a “New Silk Road”, which is envisioned to provide the basis for intra- and inter-regional integration. Realistically speaking, most of this plan (which was never that feasible for the US) is already rendered null and void by the Russia’s Eurasian Union and China’s Silk Road Economic Belt, but there are still two important projects which have the potential for some sort of success:

    The Lapis Lazuli Corridor:

    This little-known plan was given all but one sentence in Hoagland’s speech, yet it’s extremely important and needs to be explained in detail. He said that “[Afghan President Ghani] then spoke of the Lapis Lazuli Corridor (during his recent visit to Washington), which would run through Afghanistan and Turkmenistan, across the Caspian to Georgia, and on to Turkey and Europe.” It may be that Hoagland excluded any further commentary on this branch of the “New Silk Road” owing to its deeper strategic significance, and not wanting to draw unnecessary attention to something that is largely ignored by the Russian and Chinese press despite its importance for American regional policy.

    [​IMG]

    Afghanistan’s Chamber of Commerce describes the Lapis Lazuli Corridor (LLC) as such:

    “The Lapis Lazuli begins from Aqina in northern Faryab province and Turqundi in western Herat province of Afghanistan and continues to Turkmenbashi of Turkmenistan and after passing Caspian Sea, arrives Baku, the Azerbaijan’s capital and then it connects Baku to Tbilisi, Georgia’s capital and also to the ports of Polti and Batumi of Georgia. And then get cities of Kars and Istanbul of Turkey and finally ends Europe.”

    What’s not said but should be vividly understood by any regional observer is that this represents a modified institutionalization of the Northern Distributional Network (NDN), the de-facto conceptual successor to moving goods in/out of Afghanistan via trans-Caspian and trans-Caucasus shipping. Having at one time represented the US’ logistical sprawl during the main years of the Afghan War, it’s now poised for a resurgence of importance in becoming the US’ lifeline of influence into the region.

    Its geography dictates that it touches upon the US’ key security constellation in the Caucasus (Azerbaijan-Georgia-Turkey) through which the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline, the South Caucasus gas pipeline, and the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railroad already traverse. All three projects also serve fundamental American strategic goals, and it’s expected that the LLC will complement this existing infrastructure and serve to integrate the three countries even more. While Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan are not explicitly mentioned as members of this new framework, considering the fact that they already have the road and rail infrastructure necessary to facilitate the movement of various goods (and have a tried-and-true record of doing so through the NDN in the past), it’s likely they may also become conduits along this route, especially in the event that chaos envelops the Turkmen-Afghan frontier.

    Furthermore, this alternate (or complementary) route appears even more likely when one realizes that the Germans are still basing 300 soldiers in Termez, Uzbekistan, right on the Afghan border and at the beginning of Central Asia’s NDN rail route. This force could be used to safeguard the path in the event of massive domestic destabilization concentrated in the country’s more populated eastern regions. Should it come under fire during the conflagration or perhaps even by Taliban or other terrorist insurgents that have found their way into the country, then the 12,000 NATO soldiers remaining in Afghanistan could rapidly come to their ‘aid’ and bolster their presence along the Uzbek portion of the railroad.

    It must be said that all of the abovementioned infrastructural designs could possibly be rendered obsolete (although it doesn’t mean they won’t still be used in some capacity) if the 30 June Iranian nuclear deal deadline is reached, as Tehran would then be in a commanding position to offer a more efficient route for Afghan and Central Asian goods to both the European-destined Turkish transport hub and the Indian Ocean. This possibility will be discussed in the next section when the series addresses the Hoagland-Blinken Doctrine’s envisioned Lead From Behind partners in the region, although it must be said that any means in which Iran indirectly supports American strategic policy in Central Asia would most likely be the unintentional collateral sum of Tehran’s expanding infrastructure ties with the region and the cessation of international sanctions on the country. No matter if that’s the case or not, however, the result of assisting American objectives (even if they are different and less impactful than those described above) is still the same.

    CASA-1000:

    Background and Context

    Just as the LLC was given only one sentence in Hoagland’s speech, so too was CASA-1000 provided the same light treatment in Blinken’s, showing what may perhaps be a pattern of the US underplaying its latest strategic initiatives. However, unlike the LCC, CASA-1000 has fewer prospects for physical success and represents something more along the lines of a strategic backup plan that may or may not be implemented in the future.

    [​IMG]

    To begin with, CASA-1000 is an abbreviation for the partially World Bank-funded “Central Asia South Asia Electricity Transmission and Trade Project” that is supposed to transfer at least 1,000 megawatts of hydroelectric-generated energy from Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to Afghanistan and Pakistan during the summer months after its completion. The problem with the project, despite its ambition, is that Kyrgyzstan is currently undergoing on energy crisis and is unable to provide its necessary 30% contribution to the project’s overall hydroelectric supply. The Diplomat, in its commentary on this portion of the Hoagland-Blinken Doctrine, questions whether the project could go forward with Tajikistan being the sole energy provider, mentioning that this scenario hasn’t even attempted to be explained by Washington. Supposing that this challenge can be surmounted, there’s still the issue with Central Asian energy only being provided during the summer months when an excess of hydroelectric power generation makes the project possible, thus imposing a severe limitation on the entire project.

    Having touched upon the problems and constraints of CASA-1000, it’s now time to look at the strategic advantages its completion would provide for the US. It’s understood that the project’s feasibility is also contingent on the construction of hydroelectric dams in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan that the downstream state of Uzbekistan has strongly objected to in the past. As it stands, Russia and the World Bank are both supportive of Tajikistan’s plans to build the Rogun Dam (the project Uzbekistan is most ardently against), with the former likely being so due to political-strategic reasons vis-à-vis Uzbekistan and overall Eurasian integration, while the latter has certified that the environmental impact can be mitigated and could thus possibility provide a loan to finance the rest of the project’s costs.

    Up until now, Tajikistan has had to depend on contributions from its citizens, with Russia reluctant to provide solid financial backing out concern that this would eliminate once and for all its trump card in restoring relations with regional military powerhouse Uzbekistan. Should Russia provide more than strategic and political support for this project and fully fund the rest of the endeavor (no matter how advantageous it is for its overall objectives), then it would lose the last significant opportunity to effect an Uzbek pivot, or at the very least, have Tashkent provide Moscow with an ear to listen to its concerns. Uzbekistan has been moving closer to the US as of late and could potentially become its Lead from Behind designator for the region, hence why it’s important for Russia to still have some options on the table for keeping bilateral relations stable. Right now, given the diplomatic complexity of Russian-Uzbek relations, Moscow has chosen a wait-and-see approach to Rogun, providing strong diplomatic and strategic support on the backend, but officially behaving hands-off in the public eye and letting the project develop on its own per Tajikistan’s initiatives, not Russia’s. This gives Moscow the saving face necessary to maintain cordial diplomatic ties with Tashkent while simultaneously promoting its own regional objectives.

    Pivot Potential

    While it doesn’t look like the US-Uzbek and Russian-Kyrgyz-Tajik configuration is going to change anytime soon, a regional trade-off between Russia and the US for regional allies wouldn’t be completely unprecedented. To explain, consider that Russia would ideally like to integrate the entirety of the Central Asian space into the Eurasian Union, especially since Uzbekistan presents the most formidable economic and military opportunities in the region. At the same time, Uzbekistan is inarguably close to America nowadays, but it’s still strategically dependent on the Russian-aligned upstream states of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan for the water sources that power its economy and provide for its people, which would only deepen with the construction of the hydroelectric dams necessary to power CASA-1000 and the possible lessening of downstream supply.

    If somehow Russia manages to make breakthrough inroads with Uzbekistan in hammering out their regional visionary differences and come to some type of implicit accord, then the US can immediately interject itself by offering to fund the remainder of the Rogun Dam’s costs or by offering some kind of other large-scale assistance in its construction. The purpose behind Washington’s obtrusive intervention would be to draw a line between Uzbekistan and Tajikistan (both of which would at that point be understood to have come to agreement with Russia’s integrational objectives) and Russia and Tajikistan, knowing that this would break the delicate agreement that Moscow had brokered between its allies. Of course, the US would only sacrifice its immensely strategic relations with Uzbekistan if it felt they could not be (easily) recovered from Russia, but should it be able to pull off another Color Revolution in Kyrgyzstan, it could capitalize off of its newfound high-ground ally and the geographic split between the Eurasian Union and Tajikistan to try to rapidly bring Dushanbe into the fold as well.

    One should remember that downstream Uzbekistan is ultimately dependent on Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan’s water supplies, and that the Great Power which exercises influence over these states indirectly controls the Uzbek economy (especially if the dams are eventually built). The consequence of a combined Color Revolution in Kyrgyzstan with a near-simultaneous US Rogun pivot to Tajikistan would surely lead to war with Uzbekistan, which in this overall scenario would result in fractious chaos in Central Asia that would shatter Russia’s integration plans. Could such a ‘switch off’ between allies happen? Well, something similar occurred with the US and the USSR over Ethiopia and Somalia during the 1977-1978 Ogaden War, whereby Moscow switched its support to Addis-Ababa and Washington in turn flipped towards Mogadishu in a stunning and relatively sudden reversal of regional geopolitics. Such a reconfiguration may not have been premeditated, but it still happened nonetheless, meaning that such scenarios mustn’t be precluded by astute decision makers.

    Contingent On A Pivot (Or Lack Thereof)

    Another absolutely crucial issue that mustn’t be precluded is whether or not the Hoagland-Blinken Doctrine’s envisioned Lead From Behind partners will succeed in their outlined mission. The probability is still up for grabs, but nonetheless, because the Doctrine alludes to both Turkey and Iran serving this role, this topic must be addressed in full.

    Turkey:
    Blinken doesn’t include Ankara in his joint doctrine with Hoagland until prompted to by Strobe Talbott, former Deputy Secretary of State from 1994-2001 and his self-admitted mentor who was present in the audience and largely presided over and dominated the Q&A session. The following brief exchange definitely needs to be highlighted and analyzed:

    “MR. TALBOTT: Which brings to mind one other country, and then we will go to Johannes. I remember Turgut Ozal, at the time that the USSR was disintegrating, making no secret of a Turkish dream, given the Turkic influences in the region that we’re talking about. What is – how is Turkey seen today, particularly given some of the tumult that’s going on there?

    DEPUTY SECRETARY BLINKEN: It’s a good question and frankly one that I’m almost more comfortable asking of our partners in the region. I don’t want to necessarily suggest how they’re seeing Turkey. I think you’re right about Turkey’s interest and ambition. It’s also true that the Turks have a tremendous amount on their hands in their immediate environs right now, and that’s challenging.

    But the bottom line, at least from our perspective, again, is this is not about creating false choices or imposing choices on our partners in Central Asia. One of the differences that we bring to the table is a profound and strong belief that our partners have a right to make their own decisions and make their own choices about the future. And if that involves us, so much the better. But if it involves other countries in the region, that is their decision.”

    The first thought that comes to mind is that Blinken didn’t refrain from unnecessarily suggesting how Central Asian states are seeing Russia, having earlier gone on and on about how he imagines that they “fear” Moscow ever since the reunification with Crimea. The hypocritical bias that’s on full display in this instance is indicative of a clear strategic preference by the State Department over which states should and shouldn’t have influence in Central Asia. Turkey’s deepening soft power involvement in Central Asia doesn’t compete with the US’ strategic objectives, it furthers them, since the essence of Lead From Behind is that the US relies on proxy entities to carry out its policies and overall will in targeted geostrategic regions. Ideally, the US would like for Turkey’s Neo-Ottoman foreign policy to penetrate across the Caspian and into the heart of the former empire’s ethnic affiliates. This would assist Ankara in spreading the subversive and terrorist Muslim Brotherhood, the latest proxy group that it’s taken patronage of, throughout the region in order to undermine the associated governments and establish an anchor of influence that could only be expelled via forcible means that would further destabilize those states.

    One of the key components of the American strategy is to have Turkmen gas (the reserves of which are among the world’s largest) enter the European market via a Turkish hub in order to assist with anti-Russian energy diversification. Ankara and Ashgabat already signed a deal last November to bring the latter’s gas to Europe through the TANAP pipeline, but the lingering question has always been how to bridge the geographic divide between the two countries. While some have spoken of a trans-Caspian pipeline, the lack of maritime delineation between Iran on one hand, and Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan on the other makes this all but impossible pending a forthcoming agreement on the Sea (which even then could result in the sea being designated as a lake, and as such, all of its profits [and possibly decisions] would have to be shared). The proto-deal with Iran could surprisingly change the calculation, however, and facilitate a Turkish-Iranian-Turkmen energy axis that would do away with the Caspian complication and also work out to Iran’s benefit as well (whereas the trans-Caspian pipeline would have been to its absolute detriment).

    No matter which way Ankara does it, if Turkey is able to craft an infrastructural foothold in Central Asia via Turkmenistan, then it could use this as a springboard for pumping its soft power and political influence deeper into the region (a ‘reverse pipeline’, if one can call it that). However, Turkey’s role as one of the US’ two Lead From Behind partners in the area is contingent on it not pivoting away from the West and towards Eurasia, which has increasingly become a plausible possibility in the past year. Should that happen, then the Turkish-Iranian-Turkmen energy axis could turn against the US’ grand strategy and present an asymmetrical threat to the unipolar world instead of a complementary component, although the Brzezinski-esque threat posed by the Muslim Brotherhood virus could still be exploited as a unipolar weapon, whether intentional or not.

    Iran:

    As with Turkey, Iran isn’t mentioned much in the Hoagland-Blinken Doctrine, but this shouldn’t be taken to mean that it doesn’t occupy an important envisioned strategic role. Hoagland only briefly comments, almost as an aside, that:

    “Central Asia’s geography also places it in close proximity to Iran, a country that shares many ancient cultural and economic ties with Central Asia. We are aware that there are areas on which Iran’s Central Asian neighbors need cooperation, such as water conservation, desertification, and countering the trade of illicit narcotics. So we hope that Iran finds a productive way to work with its Central Asian neighbors.”

    Blinken also has barely anything to say about Iran, muttering that:

    “Iran’s historic and cultural ties to the region are deep and longstanding, and for countries that are increasingly focused on their connectivity to the rest of the world, Iran stands as a potential gateway to Europe as well as a maritime route to Asia.”

    Later, in response to one of Talbott’s talking-point questions, he elaborates that:

    “Depending on Iran’s evolution over the next years or more, it could be Iran as well, as a gateway to Europe, as a gateway to India.”

    While they may not seem like much, these small statements are loaded with strategic meaning and hint at the White House’s future plans for Iran in a post-deal world. It should be said that the author wrote a forecast back in mid-November touching upon some of the strategic risks for Tehran inherent in any kind of nuclear deal with the US, such as the soft vulnerabilities of Western trade dependency and NGO infiltration. These warnings are still relevant today and they demonstrate some of the measures by which the West can gain influence over Iran even against Tehran’s will. The reason is that Iran doesn’t have to intentionally pivot towards the US (although this is what America would ultimately prefer, despite its near-impossible odds), since Washington can exploit the regional moves that Tehran makes to further its own advantage in a post-deal (non-sanctioned) world.

    In the event that a final deal is reached before 30 June (which would signify a global pivot for all the Great Powers in some sense, the pivot on which the following is dependent), the US actually wants there to be as much infrastructure connecting Iran to Central Asia as possible owing to the geographic efficiency in using the country as a conduit for facilitating interregional connectivity (ergo the “gateway to Europe, as a gateway to India” comments). Iran would thus become the gatekeeper to Central Asia’s exports to the outside world and Europe and India’s imports to the heart of Asia, which would be an arrangement equally beneficial for both the country and the region. So what can go wrong?

    Plenty, actually. As the case of Cuba clearly shows, the US now seems to be testing a softer, ‘friendlier’ face to its long-term regime change ambitions, and opening up Iran might be the Mideast application of this prototype policy. Everything therefore depends on the effectiveness of the Iranian and Central Asian security services in preventing, identifying, and stopping Color Revolutionary influences from taking hold of their countries and setting up expansive social and physical infrastructure projects. Even though these are still a threat without increased trade traversing their territory, as a typical rule, the more physical foreign influence that moves through a country (such as trade goods), the more likely it is that Color Revolutionary forces will try to exploit this logistics pipeline to infiltrate their target. It’s well-known that the West was behind the 2009 Green Color Revolution attempt in Iran, and although ultimately a failure, it did succeed in rattling the nerves of the security establishment which hadn’t fully prepared for this asymmetrical scenario.

    Even though Iran has obviously made defensive arrangements to guard against a repeat of such contingencies ever since learning from the failed Green Revolution, the US is typically always one step ahead in its Color Revolution innovations, as seen by the terrorist war that followed Syria’s failed Color Revolution or the ultra-violent and hard-core nationalist tactical and strategic ‘modifications’ of EuroMaidan. It already looks like an unconventional war might be heating up in Baluchistan with the killing of 8 Iranian border guards earlier this week (an insurgency that was forecasted by the author in early January), and it’s likely to increase in intensity (and mutate with its methods) as Western covert influence enters the region via new non-sanctioned trade routes to Central Asia.

    Additionally, the greater Iran’s economic dependence becomes in enabling easier Central Asia-European/Indian trade (and reaping some of the benefits, too), the more vulnerable it is to any type of Taliban-ISIL hybrid destabilization targeting Turkmenistan, the projected desert ‘highway’ linking it with the region’s more populous reaches (and notably avoiding anarchic Afghanistan). This also means that it would become vulnerable to any forthcoming destabilization in Uzbekistan, the region’s most populous market, as would its Indian and European partners that the US may try to indirectly affect through prodding this scenario forward (amongst other strategic reasons that it may have). Thus, it’s not to say that Iranian-Central Asian (and consequently, Central Asian-Indian/European) trade networks should not be constructed – not in the least! – but that they must be monitored with extreme vigilance. Crucially, strategic considerations must be at the forefront of Tehran’s thinking in order to prevent such dire scenarios from occurring, mitigate their aftershocks if they do, and avoid overdependence on Central Asian-European-Indian trade and/or Turkish-Iranian-Turkmen energy cooperation.

    Concluding Thoughts

    The Hoagland-Blinken Doctrine is motivated by the US’ geopolitical jealousy against Russia and China’s successful infrastructure and integration advances in Central Asia. Being poorly clothed in cooperative rhetoric, it’s easy to see through the layer of talk and expose what’s underneath the deceptive words and colorful euphemisms. The reality is that “the Emperor has no clothes”, and that after the eloquently spun ‘clothes’ come off and the charade is finally over, the regime change mannequin is laid bare for all to see.

    The US wants to hold the region hostage under the threat of regime change destabilization in order to keep it in check and promote its two infrastructure projects, the Lapis Lazuli Corridor and CASA-1000. It’s banking on Turkey and Iran being its Lead From Behind partners (with Turkey willingly filling this role and Iran unintentionally) in order to indirectly deepen its strategic influence over Central Asia. It can’t conclusively be said which of the examined scenarios will eventually play out or in what exact manner (although the Kyrgyz Color Revolution convincingly appears imminent), but the examined possibilities are based on strategic reasoning, established facts, and most importantly, Hoagland and Blinken’s own words.

    The US is definitely planning to reengage Central Asia like never before, as the construction of state-of-the-art embassies all over the region attest. The unveiling of the Hoagland-Blinken Doctrine is thus no mere coincidence and should be taken to signify a new era of relations between the US and Central Asia. Even if Washington isn’t as successful in its doctrine as it hopes, it can still make an impact simply by retaining a diplomatic and shadow presence in the area. After all, as Blinken himself quipped, “As we all know, 90 percent of life is showing up.”

    Andrew Korybko is the political analyst and journalist for Sputnik who currently lives and studies in Moscow, exclusively for ORIENTAL REVIEW.

    The Hoagland-Blinken Doctrine Is Washington’s Updated Plan For Central Asia (II) | Oriental Review

    ===

    @pmaitra, @jouni, @sgarg, @roma Et al.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 11, 2015
  5. sorcerer

    sorcerer Senior Member Senior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2013
    Messages:
    6,203
    Likes Received:
    5,114
    Location:
    India
    Get Ready: America’s Pivot is Going Hi-Tech


    Pentagon strategists obsess about the future of war; it’s their job. The Secretary of Defense, Ash Carter, does as well, and as he traveled through Asia for meetings with U.S. allies last week, he clarified his vision for the next phase in the U.S. rebalance to Asia as calibrating the U.S. military presence in the region, not just toward the modern, but the hi-tech. The Pentagon is making a bet that the future of war in Asia is going “high end.”

    Before accusing the Pentagon of warmongering or making the region a powder keg, let’s remember that a defense budget must be submitted to Congress every year, and that budget must contain everything the Department of Defense (DoD) thinks is necessary to man, train, and equip U.S. warfighting commands with what they need to defend U.S. interests. How should one go about such a weighty task? Imagining plausible future conflicts (that is, the future of war) helps DoD figure out what types of missions the military might be called on to execute. If you have a sense of these likely missions, you can then take a reasonable guess at what the U.S. military’s size, composition, and concepts for employment should be. You can’t know the future, of course, but as long as the military is going to spend billions of dollars to defend the country from threats that arise, you’ve got to try, and you’ve got to hedge against the plausible worst case scenarios. It’s hard to imagine a method for determining the size and shape of the U.S. military—and corresponding defense budget—without imagining the ways in which the U.S. military might be asked to fight in the future.

    Secretary Carter’s comments during his trip to Asia reminds us that when it comes to imagining possible conflicts in Asia, regional trends point toward militaries preparing for hi-tech combat. Precision-guided munitions—ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, and missile defense—have proliferated throughout the region and pose distinct challenges to deterrence and crisis management. Added to this is the rapid spread of various types of drones—aerial and undersea variants—the development of next-generation missiles like hypersonic glide vehicles, cyber and electronic warfare capabilities, and a burgeoning arms race in aircraft carriers. These individual developments are familiar to most Asia defense watchers, but collectively they paint a picture of militaries in the region trying to out-modernize each other.

    For decades, the U.S. military presence in Asia has helped play a stabilizing role by dint of not simply its commitments to allies, but its military-technical superiority over all potential challengers. What Secretary Carter and his Deputy Bob Work have taken pains to emphasize is that the above trends in military technologies, combined with military concepts that use them to target U.S. and ally vulnerabilities, increasingly challenge U.S. superiority.

    Logically, then, a minimally necessary condition for the United States to continue to play a stabilizing role in the region is to find a way to offset the technical advances of any would-be aggressors. The United States is not militarizing the region; the region is militarizing and the United States must find a way to play a stabilizing role as it does. The U.S. rebalance to Asia was intended to send a signal that the United States is committed to continued peace and prosperity in the region, but what that requires of the United States over time may vary.

    U.S. commitments need to be credible, and credibility requires sufficient capability. As the region’s militaries modernize, the United States must adapt. Welcome to the next phase of the rebalance.

    Get Ready: America’s Pivot is Going Hi-Tech | The Diplomat
     
  6. Superdefender

    Superdefender Regular Member

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2016
    Messages:
    970
    Likes Received:
    647
    US to send 200 more troops, 8 Apache helicopters into Islamic State fray in Iraq
    Ash Carter, Khaled al-Obeidi
    Visiting U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter, left, and his Iraqi counterpart Khaled al-Obeidi review an honor guard during a welcome ceremony at the Ministry of Defense in Baghdad, Iraq, on Monday (April 18, 2016). (Associated Press)
    Print Email
    The Associated Press By The Associated Press
    on April 18, 2016 at 1:25 PM




    BAGHDAD — The U.S. has agreed to deploy more than 200 additional troops to Iraq and to send eight Apache helicopters for the first time into the fight against the Islamic State group in Iraq, the first major increase in U.S. forces in nearly a year, U.S. defense officials said Monday (April 18).

    The uptick in American fighting forces — and the decision to put them closer to the front lines — is designed to help Iraqi forces as they move to retake the key northern city of Mosul.

    Speaking to reporters Monday in Baghdad, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said the decision to move U.S. advisers to the Iraqi brigade and battalion level will put them "closer to the action," but he said they will have security forces with them and the U.S. will do what's needed to reduce the risks.

    A senior U.S. official said that there will be eight Apache helicopters authorized to help the Iraqi forces when Iraq leaders determine they need them. The official was not authorized to discuss the numbers publicly so spoke on condition of anonymity.

    Last June the Obama administration announced that hundreds of troops would be deployed to help the Iraqis retake Ramadi — a goal they accomplished at the end of the year.

    Of the additional troops announced Monday, most would be Army special forces, who have been used throughout the anti-ISIS campaign to advise and assist the Iraqis. The remainder would include some trainers, security forces for the advisers, and maintenance teams for the Apaches.

    The decisions reflect weeks of discussions with commanders and Iraqi leaders, and a decision by President Barack Obama to increase the authorized troop level in Iraq by 217 forces — or from 3,870 to 4,087. The advise-and-assist teams — made up of about a dozen troops each — would embed with Iraqi brigades and battalions, likely putting them closer to the front lines and at greater risk from mortars and rocket fire.

    The U.S., said Carter, is "on the same page with the Iraqi government" in how to intensify the fight against the Islamic State.

    The proximity to the battlefront will allow the U.S. teams to provide more tactical combat advice as the Iraqi units move toward Mosul, the country's second-largest city, still under Islamic State control. Until now, U.S. advisers have worked with the Iraqis at the headquarters level, well back from the front lines.

    Carter called the addition of the Apache helicopters significant, because they can "respond so quickly and so dynamically to an evolving tactical situation."

    He said he discussed the Apaches with Iraq Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Monday and, "he understood that it would be necessary for just these cases and agreed with me that we would provide it."

    Last December, U.S. officials were trying to carefully negotiate new American assistance with Iraqi leaders who often have a different idea of how to wage war. At that time, the Iraqis refused Apache helicopters for the battle to retake Ramadi, saying they didn't think they were needed.

    Speaking to U.S. troops at the airport in Baghdad, Carter also said that the U.S. will send an additional long-range, rocket-assisted artillery system to Iraq.

    U.S. officials have also said that the number of special operations forces in Syria would be increased at some point, but Carter did not mention that in his comments. Officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

    Carter's announcement Monday came after several meetings with his commanders and Iraqi leaders about how the U.S. can best prepare Iraqi forces to retake Mosul.

    In addition to his session with al-Abadi, Carter also met with Lt. Gen. Sean MacFarland, the top U.S. military commander for the Islamic State fight, and minister of defense Khalid al-Obeidi.

    He also spoke by phone with the president of Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region, Massoud Barzani. Later, Carter announced to the troops that the U.S. aid will extend to the Kurdish Peshmerga forces fighting in northern Iraq. Carter said the U.S. has authorized sending up to $415 million to the Kurds over time.

    MacFarland told reporters that the money will be used in part to help feed the Peshmerga troops, who have been dealing with food shortages.

    Carter on Tuesday will travel to Saudi Arabia to meet with defense ministers from Gulf nations. And Obama will also be in Riyadh to talk with Gulf leaders about the fight against the Islamic State and ask for their help in rebuilding Ramadi, which took heavy damage in the battle.

    U.S. military and defense officials have made it clear that winning back Mosul is critical, but will be challenging, because the insurgents are dug in and have likely peppered the landscape with roadside bombs and other traps for any advancing military.

    A senior defense official told reporters traveling with Carter that while Iraqi leaders have been reluctant to have a large number of U.S. troops in Iraq, they also need certain capabilities that only more American or coalition forces can provide. The official was not authorized to discuss the issue publicly so spoke on condition of anonymity.

    Source Link: http://www.nola.com/military/index....roops_8_a.html#incart_river_mobileshort_index
     
  7. Screambowl

    Screambowl Senior Member Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2015
    Messages:
    4,618
    Likes Received:
    3,226
    Location:
    N/A
    US wants to station their troops in every country. And also formulate the policies of each country where they station their troops.

    In other words they want to hold the world.
     
  8. Indx TechStyle

    Indx TechStyle Perfaarmance Naarmal Senior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2015
    Messages:
    6,994
    Likes Received:
    7,533
    Location:
    21°N 78°E / 21°N 78°E
    It must be in Middle East Section.

    OT: India has substantial presence in Kazakhstan.
    We have our military bases there, Kazakhstan is buying Indian Military stuff and now, they want Joint Ventures with India to develop own weapons. :p
     

Share This Page