Thursday, October 28, 2010

Russia's Afghan agenda

Gorbachev has valuable advice for the US on the war in Afghanistan that Putin would rather he keep to himself

Jonathan Steele, Wednesday 27 October 2010

"The surprise in this week's reports that Russia is planning to help Nato in Afghanistan by training Afghan helicopter pilots is that people are surprised. Memories are short, it seems, for the shift in Moscow's line came as early as July last year during Barack Obama's first summit in the Kremlin.....

Today's war is at roughly the point where Gorbachev was in late 1985 – except that the generals in the field are united in still hoping for military victory. Obama's top commander, David Petraeus, has not given up on his surge, and if he decides to overrule his top brass the US president is in a harder political position than Gorbachev was in the Soviet Union's undemocratic system. The international context is also worse, given that Pakistan and Iran take opposite sides today.

As for the "new" Russia's position on Afghanistan, the irony is that Moscow is less willing to see a US withdrawal than Obama appears to be. Medvedev and Putin will not send their own troops, but they firmly want the Americans to stay."

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