“We can’t shy away from big goals. We must follow the example of a generation that, after World War II, built the modern world order and created institutions and agreements that strengthened unprecedented security and prosperity. We have to go the same way, looking even further and working harder to work out agreements that will ensure our security and prosperity for the next hundred years. ”
“Us”, if anyone does not understand, is not Singapore or, say, Afghanistan. This is Hillary about America. About the homeland of its own, tormented by the unbearable debt burden and the heavy burden of American values, daily and nightly spread throughout the world - the plague is like.
Further, the US Secretary of State reported:
“The same applies to the regional concept, which we call the New Silk Road, a network of trade and transport links stretching from the steppes of Central Asia to the southernmost tip of India. Building even stronger economic ties throughout this region is a key element of our long-term strategy for Afghanistan. If you look at the map, you will see why there has been a struggle for Afghanistan for many generations. It was part of the “big game” because of its very strategic position right in the middle of this trade route. ”
Let's not find fault with incorrect expressions like “very strategic”, but rather rejoice over H. Clinton. For once in the US administration they learned to look for something on the world map.
“Even when we move forward as part of the transfer of responsibility from NATO and ISAF forces in 2014 and to the completion of our combat mission, we are focused on protecting the economic future of Afghanistan, because we know that without this, stability and security will be, undoubtedly fragile. "
A mere truth. The fragile stability of the United States, which will stop feeding opiates from the hardworking makorobov Afghanistan, can become very fragile.
According to a report by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, in 2012 on the Afghan fields Was collected 3.700.000 tons of opium poppy, which is known to be a raw material for heroin production. Currently, 80% of the total world crop of opium poppy is removed in Afghanistan. Compared to 2011 year, the Afghan sown area increased by almost 20%: from 131 thousands of hectares to 154 thousands. But here's the problem: over the past year, the price of a kilo of opium has dropped from 241 $ to 196 $. What can you do, the crisis is a crisis. But rural workers do not panic: after all, this price is higher than the procurement prices that were valid in 2008-2009.
Entering at the dawn of the twenty-first century in Afghanistan, the Americans set themselves the goals of dealing with the Taliban-terrorists and reducing drug trafficking. Drug traffic has grown several times since then, and the Taliban have strengthened - so much so that after the withdrawal of troops, ISAF can take power in the country. Few experts now doubt this. Therefore, even after 2014, the Americans are going to contain a limited contingent in Afghanistan - somewhere near beautiful poppy fields ...
Foreign analysts count them.that the American strategy of the New Silk Road offers the countries of Central Asia a way out of isolation, and at the same time a path to new markets and to the sea for the transportation of oil and gas. However, the leaders of the Central Asian states will first have to overcome mutual suspicion and unwillingness to cooperate.
Kurban Yuvshanov, an Uzbek political analyst, says:
"The governments of the countries of Central Asia must find areas where (their interests) coincide, and take this project seriously before it is too late." He adds: "A rational economic partnership based on mutual commercial benefits and with the support of leading (global) players can accelerate the development of the region."
Azerbaijani expert Rovshan Ibrahimov believes that in this context it is important to develop methods for ensuring security along the proposed transit route. In his opinion, "security can be provided either by regional or international forces, and on a commercial basis." As a result, "no one will object, because stability is a prerequisite for economic gain." According to the analyst, the participation of the West in such projects should not be equated with intervention:
“Experience shows that integration and cooperation are possible only when international players arrive.”
But the opinions of two more experts.
According to Vafo Niyatbekov, leading expert of the Center for Strategic Studies under the President of Tajikistan, the United States plans to reorient Tajikistan, and then other countries in the region from traditional ties in the north towards developing contacts in the south, where Afghanistan is located:
“The goal is clear - this is the creation of a new macro-region with the unification of Central and South Asia. It is not by chance that there is a single department for Central and South Asia at the State Department. Americans are very cautious and successfully approach this case. New bridges are being built, customs barriers are easing on the border between Tajikistan and Afghanistan. It is not by chance that the projects are approved by representatives of the World Bank, which is one of the tools of US influence. In aggregate, this all means that the project is working. ”
Dmitry Popov, an expert at the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, is convinced that the American program is nothing more than a counterbalance to the Russian initiative of the Eurasian Union:
“The program of the New Silk Road provides for the reversal of Tajikistan from the traditional northern routes in the direction of Russia to the south - with a reference to Afghanistan and South Asia. But if we are talking about the interests of Russia, then, in my opinion, this is in contradiction with our efforts to create a Customs Union and integration in the post-Soviet space. Russia is making efforts to form its integration center, and it has its own integration project. ”
At the end of November, American General William Fraser, head of the Transportation Command of the US Armed Forces, returned from a trip to Central Asia with enthusiasm responded on the military supply route in the region, stating that it could be transformed into the civilian distribution network of the New Silk Road - after the US withdraws its troops from Afghanistan.
Giving an interview to the Pentagon press service, the general noted that the Northern Distribution Network (NDN) would act as the basis for the transformation of trade in Central Asia. Fraser noted that NDN offers opportunities for the future, and countries in the region can benefit from it.
“We are already seeing partial implementation of these efforts by some of these countries,” the general continued. - Looking forward, to the future, these countries understand that the military are not going to go about their business at the same level as they have done before for a long time. Thus, they are looking for ways to capitalize on what emerged from the creation of the Northern Distribution Network. ”
Dennis Matthew, Fraser’s foreign policy adviser who accompanied him on the trip, said in turn that the efforts within the framework of the NDN were well within the strategic vision of the US Department of State. Thus, he confirmed that the United States began a project called “The New Silk Road”, which previously had so brilliantly advertised Hillary Clinton. Matthew noted that the New Silk Road offers new opportunities to one of the least economically integrated regions of the world.
And the noble goal of ubiquitous Americans here is to rebuild an economy that has collapsed through decades of war and rivalry. The new US concept will help Central Asia reestablish commercial ties with some of the fastest growing economies in the world, which are located at the crossroads of Europe, Asia and the Middle East.
The American idea, according to Matthew, is simple: the Central Asian republics can follow the tested scenario of economic development.
However, both Matthew and Frazier, not to mention Hillary Clinton, seem to have tried to instill in the people of Central Asia, and at the same time the American congressmen, faith in the invincible Central Asian tread of the United States, rather than having in mind the "partial realization."
Who among the leaders of Central Asian countries today supports the ideas voiced by Mr. Fraser? A question sets Joshua Kucera, well-known Eurasianet.org analyst. Perhaps Kazakhstan? However, there is a study on how negligible NDN has influenced the development of regional trade. A whole pessimistic picture of what the Northern Supply Network "has done little to improve the efficiency of regional trade" has been drawn.
Another skeptic showed up in Central Asia analyst Roger Kangas, a professor of Central Asia research at the National University of Defense. Speaking at Georgetown University, he made it clear that the governments of Central Asian countries are afraid that the opening of borders may attract crowds of thugs, drug dealers, Islamists from unstable Afghanistan, and at the same time strengthen the intra-distrust of neighbors. The analyst said this, tentatively emphasizing that his views are by no means an expression of the official position of the US government.
Joshua Kucera is at a loss. Is he, the State Department and military officials who naturally advertised NDN, really believe in their project? Or are we here seeing a “rhetorical fig leaf” that masks the absence of a real plan for Afghanistan and Central Asia after the withdrawal of American troops? Either these officials are naive, the expert writes angrily, or they deliberately mislead us.
In its latest article, from December 4, the same Kucher subjected to a closer look at the reasoning of Comrade Kangas, whose opinion is polar at odds with the joyously euphoric position of official Washington.
As Kangas (a man with a reputation as the leading American expert on the Central Asian region) believes, Washington’s diplomacy in Central Asia will have to adapt to a dramatic shift in its basic assumptions. If twenty years ago, the five states of Central Asia gained independence, and their regional leaders welcomed the diplomatic participation in their fate of Washington, then today this is not necessarily so.
“US participation in Central Asia is no longer a given. This is not something that we can take for granted, and this is not what the countries of Central Asia will necessarily desire - in particular, the leadership of these countries, ”said Roger Kangas.
And above all, Kangas believes, American diplomats should realize that the leaders of the countries of Central Asia are not in a hurry to imitate the model of a liberal market and democracy a la the United States.
“We are not returning back to 1990, when the attitude towards Americans in the vast majority of countries was positive,” said Comrade Kangas at a lecture at Georgetown University in late November.
Again, he emphasized during the lecture that he expressed his personal opinion, which does not necessarily reflect the thoughts of the US government on this topic.
The United States cherish hope, the lecturer suggested, to become a stabilizer in the region, but alas, they are little taken into account. Many officials from different Central Asian countries, according to Kangas, believe that with the appearance of Americans, problems can arise - up to an imbalance of power in the region. There, and without us, Kangas continued, there is someone to “balance” - Russia and China. America in Central Asia would be uncomfortable, the expert concludes.
In addition, according to Kangas, the recent political moves of the United States on the world stage, and, most importantly, geopolitical mistakes, contributed to the decline of American international prestige. For example, the war in Iraq in Central Asia "is seen as a challenge to national integrity and state sovereignty."
The US support for “color revolutions” in the countries of the former Soviet space and the corresponding “freedom programs” also cause distrust in Central Asia.
Finally, US officials do not allocate enough funds for this region. Washington views the policy towards Central Asia only as a continuation of its policy towards Russia. Here the White House is rowing one size fits all.
What America can do is, according to the scientist, to present itself as a kind of power in the region, granting a certain set of basic values. Here the expert called educational programs with the possible exchange of students - especially an effective and relatively cheap means of achieving the above-mentioned goal.
Arguing about the elements of US policy in Central Asia in the coming years, Kangas warned that Washington’s decision to provide countries with military equipment that is currently being used in Afghanistan could be a "sore point."
“This will lead to some tension in relations between us and the region and between countries in the region,” said Kangas (by the way, this scientist previously held a number of posts in the US government related to Central Asia).
At the same time, he expressed skepticism about the “New Silk Road” initiative, advertised by the State Department and even the recently designated “cornerstone” of policy in the region after the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan.
“The devil is in the details,” said the expert, “and the logisticians will tell you that there are no details of the plan.”
Thus, what Hillary Clinton happily announced, and after her, transport general Freyzer, was voiced while it’s more like an inflated soap bubble than a developed strategy. Do not forget about such a powerful competitor of Americans, like Russia, which has its own project: the Eurasian Union.
Observed and translated by Oleg Chuvakin
- especially for topwar.ru
- especially for topwar.ru