July 28, 2010
Uganda: U.S., NATO Allies Prepare New Invasion Of Somalia
The 15th biennial African Union summit in Kampala, Uganda ended on July 27 with mixed results regarding support for U.S. and Western European plans to escalate foreign military intervention in nearby Somalia.
The 35 heads of state present at the three-day meeting were reported to have authorized the deployment of 2,000 more African troops to back up the beleaguered Western-backed Transitional Federal Government (TFG) in Mogadishu and to bring the full complement of forces doing so to 8,000, but the new contingent will probably consist solely of troops from Uganda and Burundi, which supply the approximately 6,000 already serving with the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). Reports of another 2,000 reinforcements from Djibouti and Guinea are problematic and their deployment remains to be seen, not that pressure will not be exerted on those two nations and others from outside the continent.
AMISOM is the successor to the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Peace Support Mission in Somalia (IGASOM) set up in 2005 by the six-member group which includes Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda and which also was to have provided 8,000 troops for deployment to Somalia. The 53 members of the African Union except for Uganda and Burundi have been loath to commit military units to intervene in fighting in Somalia, whether against the Islamic Courts Union five years ago or against al-Shabaab insurgents currently.
In late 2006 U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met with Ugandan Foreign Minister Sam Kutesa to plan the earlier IGASOM operation and in January of 2007 Uganda pledged its first troops which, along with those included in a reported offer by Nigeria, were to total 8,000.
Three and a half years later, there are only 6,000 foreign troops in Somalia (now under AMISOM, the only difference being the acronym now employed) and all of those from Uganda and Burundi, both nations U.S. military clients and surrogates.
The African Union (AU) initially approved AMISOM on January 19, 2007 and granted it a six-month mandate. In July of 2010 the real prime movers behind the mission, the U.S. and its NATO allies in the European Union, are pushing for an escalation of armed intervention in Somalia with more Western-trained Ugandan troops conducting open combat operations: Changing the mandate from, to use the terms employed to mask military aggression, peacekeeping to peace enforcement.
The first attempt by the U.S. and its non-African allies to enforce a compliant government in the Horn of Africa nation, Ethiopia’s invasion in December of 2006, was assisted by the Pentagon’s Joint Special Operations Command (headed up by now retired General Stanley McChrystal until early in 2006), which conducted military operations inside Somalia no later than the beginning of the next year. At the time Ethiopia was the second largest recipient of U.S. military aid in Africa (another of the three countries bordering Somalia, Djibouti, being the first) and American military personnel were stationed in the country. Logistical and other assistance was provided by the Pentagon for the operation.
On the sidelines of the recently concluded African Union summit U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Africa Johnnie Carson “gathered the presidents of Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania, Djibouti and Uganda, along with the prime minister of Ethiopia for a closed-door session” to push for more aggressive military operations in Somalia. The State Department official was quoted as saying, “We came away even more united and committed to work together strengthen the TFG, to help strengthen AMISOM, to help strengthen the forces for stability in Somalia and to help do as much as we can to help beat al-Shabab. Al-Shabab represents a foreign and a negative influence that cannot only be destructive inside Somalia, but across the entire region.” 
Note the opprobrium attached to the word foreign. With what Carson called “a wake-up call not only for the region but for Africa as a whole”  sounded by deadly bombings in the Ugandan capital on July 11, more foreign troops armed, trained, and airlifted by great powers in North America and Europe are destined for deployment to Somalia.
Officials from the European Union and from Britain and France – the two main historical colonial masters on the African continent – were present at the meeting with Carson and America’s East African proxies.  A Voice of America report on the closed-door meeting reminded readers that “The European Union, the United Nations and the United States are the main financial contributors to the African Union’s AMISOM peacekeeping force in Somalia.” 
The arm-twisting produced few results. Despite claims by the chairman of the African Union Commission, Gabon’s Jean Ping, that troops from Djibouti and Guinea (Conakry) would join AMISOM/IGAD forces from Uganda and Burundi, the additional troops will almost surely come entirely from the last two nations. Also, the nearly three dozen heads of state at the AU summit rejected the Ugandan (and Western) demand for a “peace enforcement” rules of engagement mandate.
The current chairman of the AU, president of Malawi Bingu wa Mutharika, told reporters, “There have been calls for a change in the mandate to a more robust approach to the insurgent attacks in Somalia by Uganda and Burundi, to go beyond Mogadishu, (which is) their current limit, but (we) did not decide on that.”
Ping, however, indicated that the U.S. and NATO allies have not abandoned plans for intensified military operations in Somalia, stating, “We need equipment to match with the change in combat approach. We need helicopters for that. The United States and the U.K. are considering our request….”  He also mentioned that France could provide additional helicopters.
Even the Attorney General of the U.S., Eric Holder, attended the AU summit as the Obama administration’s representative and saw fit to impose his opinions on the 53-nation organization. Before the summit began he met with several of the continent’s heads of state and in prepared remarks to the summit affirmed that “The United States…recognizes that ending the threat of al-Shabaab to the world will take more than just law enforcement. That is why we are working closely with the AU to support the African Union’s Mission in Somalia. The United States applauds the heroic contributions that are being made on a daily basis by Ugandan and Burundian troops, and we pledge to maintain our support for the AU and the AU Mission in Somalia.” 
Lightly-armed al-Shabaab militants have now been elevated by Washington to the status of a threat to the world, though Holder’s colleague Carson limited his hyperbole to branding them a “negative influence…across the entire region.” The dual bombings in Kampala, incidentally, have been attributed to the group as a warning sign to Uganda to remove (and certainly not to increase) its troops in Somalia, but in fact appear like a provocation designed to accomplish the opposite result.
Four days before the AU summit commenced, the defense chiefs of the six Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) nations – Uganda, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Sudan – met to discuss boosting troop deployments to Somalia.
Weeks before IGAD had recommended that not the earlier cited figure of 8,000 but fully 20,000 foreign troops could be deployed to Somalia in yet another attempt to salvage the Transitional Federal Government, which doesn’t even control much of the country’s capital despite 6,000 Ugandan and Burundian troops serving as its army. 20,000 foreign troops entering Somalia in the face of overwhelming popular opposition is not a peacekeeping mission. It is an invasion.
In mid-July Ugandan officials announced that their nation’s neighbors in IGAD and in the Eastern Africa Standby Brigade (EASBRIG) – Burundi, Comoros, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, Seychelles, Somalia and Uganda – had given “soft support” should Uganda “go on the offensive in Somalia.”
“Ugandan officials now confirm that Kampala is pursuing a two-track strategy that could see it follow Al Shabaab into Somalia with or without UN Security Council consent.” A news report disclosed that the Yoweri Museveni administration is prepared to mobilize the entirety of the 20,000 troops needed for a full-scale invasion of Somalia and “military sources say Uganda feels it has the capacity to go it alone in Somalia and has been building up its military strength for such an eventuality.” 
The nation’s air force has acquired “additions to its arsenal in recent weeks” from its Western patrons “in what observers see as a concerted push to increase Uganda’s military capability.”
Last week a Defence Ministry spokesman stated, “We are one of the most efficient armies in Africa. We can defend our country from anywhere, even within Somalia.” The spokesman, Lieutenant-Colonel Felix Kulaigye, added, “Anybody who brings war to us, we take back that war to them. We shall pursue Al Shabaab from Somalia in line with the wishes of the Transitional Federal Government.” 
During the last invasion and occupation of Somalia, that of Ethiopia from December of 2006 to January of 2009, fighting between a similar invading force of 20,000 troops and Somali militias resulted in the deaths of over 16,000 civilians and the displacement of hundreds of thousands in the capital in 2007 alone according to the Mogadishu-based Elman Peace and Human Rights Organisation.
The AMISOM mandate (approved by the AU but, as seen above, with no backing by member states except for Uganda and Burundi) excludes the deployment of troops from nations bordering Somalia – Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya. Ugandan military forces and equipment have to cross Kenya to reach the country; that is, to be airlifted by United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization into parts of the Somali capital not under the control of rebels.
The Ugandan government, largely rebuffed at the AU summit, is pushing for the maiden deployment of the 10-nation Eastern Africa Standby Brigade (Eastern African Standby Brigade Coordination Mechanism) to Somalia, which would appreciably broaden the scope of the conflict. In addition, it is planning to use forums like the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) – whose members are Angola, Burundi, the Central African Republic, the Republic of Congo, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, Uganda, Tanzania and Zambia – “which already has provisions that offer some room for intervention.”
“Somalia has already applied to be a member; once that request is approved, Uganda will be able to work together with the Transitional Federal Government and fight Al Shabaab under the legal framework that governs the organisation.” 
On July 20 the head of AFRICOM, General William Ward, addressed the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C. and pledged that the U.S. will “provide more training, transportation, and logistical aid to the AU mission, known as AMISOM.” Also, “In a briefing to reporters last week, a senior Obama administration official said the U.S. wants to ‘build up the capabilities’ of AMISOM and the [Somali transitional] government.” 
In late April Brigadier General Silver Kayemba, in charge of training and operations for the Ugandan People’s Defense Force (UPDF), was in the U.S. and visited the headquarters of U.S. Army Africa, the Pentagon, the National Defense University and a Marine Corps base. Kayemba, who was also trained in the U.S., said, “This visit strengthens our relationship with the U.S. Armed Forces, particularly with U.S. Army Africa. We are looking forward to even closer cooperation in the future.” 
Last month officers of the U.S. 17th Air Force, the air component of AFRICOM (Air Forces Africa) headquartered at the Ramstein Air Base in Germany, traveled to Uganda for what was described as “a senior leader engagement event….to discuss current and future engagement activities between Ugandan People’s Defence Force, Ugandan People’s Defence Air Force and Air Forces Africa.”
The head of the U.S. delegation, Brigadier General Michael Callan, toured the airfield and logistics hangars at the Entebbe Air Force Base and “met with a representative of the U.S. State Department-contracted Dyncorp…which supports the UPDF [Ugandan People's Defence Force] with aerial resupply and troop movements of Ugandan, Burundian, and Somali forces in and out of Mogadishu….” DynCorp International is a private military company that receives almost all of its $2 billion in annual contracts from the U.S. federal government.
General Callan stated, “Uganda is one of only two countries supporting the UN’s AMISOM mission currently. Though the airlift is contracted, it is good to have the understanding of those ground-based missions and capabilities of the UPDF as we pursue future air force and joint initiatives.”
The Defense and Army Attaché at the American embassy in Kampala added, “We’ve been working with their army forces for some time, providing great training opportunities through the Department of State-funded International Military Education and Training, or IMET program and multi-national peacekeeping operations. Now they would like for us to do that with their air forces.” 
Both U.S. military officials stressed the Pentagon’s role in upgrading Uganda’s air force for future operations. “17th Air Force brings focus to those much needed air force activities,” as military attaché Army Lieutenant General Gregory Joachim stated. 
In developing bilateral and regional collective military partnerships with most every nation in Africa through AFRICOM, the U.S. works closely with its allies in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. This March “Senior figures from the US military’s Africa Command were in Brussels…looking to build cooperation with the European Union to boost training and reform for African security forces….” 
The Pentagon has between 2,500-3,000 troops from all four major branches of the military assigned to the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa stationed in Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, Somalia’s neighbor to the north. France has its largest overseas military base and 3,000 troops in the same small nation. Several hundred troops from Britain, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain have also been deployed there under NATO auspices since the beginning of the decade. The U.S. has used its airfield in Djibouti for attacks in Somalia and Yemen.
Last year the Pentagon secured its second major installation in the area, in the Indian Ocean nation of Seychelles, where it has deployed over 130 troops, Reaper unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) and three P-3 Orion anti-submarine and maritime surveillance aircraft.
In addition to the U.S.-led multinational Combined Task Force 150 and Combined Task Force 151 naval deployments off the shores of Somalia (with logistical facilities in Djibouti), NATO and the European Union are running complementary naval operations, Operation Ocean Shield and European Union Naval Force (EU NAVFOR) Somalia – Operation Atalanta, respectively. This March NATO announced it was extending its deployment for another – unprecedented – three years, until the end of 2012. Last month the Netherlands “agreed to a NATO request to deploy a submarine off the coast of Somalia….” 
In June the EU followed NATO’s lead when its foreign ministers agreed to prolong Operation Atalanta until December of 2012. An EU press release at the time revealed the broader Western strategy in the Horn of Africa region, one by no means limited to “combating piracy”: “The root causes of piracy in East Africa lie on land. To address them, the current naval operation is combined with the EU training mission for Somalia (EUTM), which contributes to the strengthening of the Somali security forces.” 
In fact the EU is training Somali soldiers in Uganda for war in their homeland and NATO is transporting Ugandan and Burundian troops for the same purpose.
A NATO website feature disclosed in March that “the USA has conducted airlift missions under the NATO banner in support of…Ugandan troop rotations. The airlift, which commenced on 5 Mar 2010 and was completed on 16 Mar 2010, was undertaken by USA contracted DynCorp International, transporting 1700 Ugandan troops from Uganda into Mogadishu and re-deploying 850 Ugandan troops out of Mogadishu.
“Part of this policy is the NATO standing agreement to provide strategic sealift and airlift support for African Union Troop Contributing Countries willing to deploy to Somalia, recently extended by NATO until 31 January 2011.” 
With the deployment of the NATO Response Force Maritime Groups 1 and 2 off the coast of Somalia, first with Operation Allied Provider and since last August with Operation Ocean Shield, the Western military bloc has extended its nearly nine-year-old Operation Active Endeavor naval surveillance and interdiction mission throughout the entire Mediterranean Sea into the Gulf of Aden to the Arabian Sea and the Persian Gulf.
The current commander of Ocean Shield, Dutch Commodore Michiel Hijmans, held a meeting on board the NATO mission’s flagship on July 12 with leaders of Somalia’s semi-independent Puntland region, which has become a land-based component of NATO operations in the Horn of Africa. According to the bloc, “The purpose of the talks was to build on the existing and growing relationship that has developed between NATO and the Puntland authorities.” 
Several days later the NATO flotilla docked in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates where Commodore Hijmans broached the subject of “chasing Somali pirates” into the Red Sea, an area not yet covered by the Ocean Shield mandate. NATO warships in the Red Sea would place them off the coasts of Egypt, Sudan, Eritrea, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Djibouti, Jordan and Israel and connect NATO naval operations through the Suez Canal to Active Endeavor in the Mediterranean.
Early this month the French military attaché to Somalia said that the “government of the Republic of France has asked Uganda and other African nations to send more troops to war torn Somalia,” and urged “more African states to send troops to Somalia….”  France will be instrumental in pressuring Djibouti and Guinea to send troops to Somalia, as both countries are former French colonies and Djibouti is a member of the French Community.
France is among several EU states that have sent troops to Uganda to train 2,000 Somali soldiers for fighting at home. The others are Spain (which is in charge), Britain, Germany, Italy, Greece, Hungary, Belgium, Portugal, Luxembourg, Sweden, Finland, Ireland, Malta and Cyprus. A NATO operation in all but name. German troops deployed in May are to “remain in East Africa for a year.” 
According to the Christian Science Monitor, “Money for logistical support is coming from the United States, which has reportedly already pumped millions of dollars into similar smaller training programs run by local militaries in Uganda and Djibouti over the past 18 months.
“The EU program to train an army to fight for Somalia’s beleaguered transitional government involves 150 instructors from 14 EU countries at a cost of $6 million.”
The featured cited above also provided the following background information:
“Since 2004, the US has poured huge resources into initiatives such as Easbrig [Eastern Africa Standby Brigade], using private contractors and military advisers to train almost 60,000 African soldiers such as…Rwandans….Africom has also trained Congolese special forces to operate in the country’s mineral-rich forests and reformed virtually the entire Liberian national army. Easbrig is an example of what Secretary of State Hillary Clinton calls ‘smart power’ – a mixture of military might and nation-building that bears a resemblance to Rumsfeld’s concept of the ‘long war’….Several critics have likened Africom to a Trojan horse, using the cover of humanitarian aid to pursue America’s real strategic interests.” 
EASBRIG is expected to grow to several thousand troops from as many as 14 nations.
One of the main missions of AFRICOM is create, train and deploy regional military forces to further U.S. and general Western objectives in Africa, the world’s second most populous continent. Somalia is the first test case.
1) Voice of America News, July 26, 2010
2) CNN, July 27, 2010
3) Voice of America News, July 26, 2010
5) CNN, July 27, 2010
6) United States Department of Justice, July 25, 2010
7) The East African, July 19, 2010
10) Voice of America News, July 20, 2010
11) United States Africa Command, April 30, 2010
12) U.S. Air Forces in Europe, June 2, 2010
14) Europolitics, March 5, 2010
15) BBC News, June 22, 2010
16) Defense News, June 15, 2010
17) North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Allied Command Operations
March 18, 2010
18) North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe
July 13, 2010
19) Uganda Government News, July 9, 2010
20) Associated Press, March 31, 2010
21) Christian Science Monitor, June 18, 2010
July 23, 2010
NATO Pulls Pakistan Into Its Global Network
In four months the North Atlantic Treaty Organization will hold a summit in Lisbon, Portugal. The host country was one of the 12 nations that founded the United States-dominated military bloc 61 years ago.
The rival grouping that was created six years after NATO’s formation and its expansion into Turkey and Greece in 1952 and the Federal Republic of Germany in 1955, the Warsaw Treaty Organization (Warsaw Pact), formally dissolved itself almost twenty years ago.
In the interim since its formation, having grown to 16 members by 1982 with the incorporation of Spain, NATO expanded from 12 to 28 members and absorbed 12 nations in Eastern Europe over the past 11 years. The last dozen were, except for two former Yugoslav federal republics (Croatia and Slovenia), earlier part of the Warsaw Pact and in three instances (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) also of the Soviet Union.
The North Atlantic military bloc’s sole right to maintain its name is that its major powers do largely have coastlines on the northern part of the Atlantic Ocean. The majority of its members do not. Since the Warsaw Pact’s demise and the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, NATO has subordinated all of Europe through full membership and the Partnership for Peace and more advanced programs.
The newest members of NATO graduated through successive stages of integration from the Partnership for Peace to Individual Partnership Action Plans and Membership Action Plans to full membership. All supplied troops for the occupation of Iraq and now have forces serving under NATO in the Afghan war zone.
Current members of the Partnership for Peace program in Europe are: Austria, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Finland, Ireland, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Montenegro, Serbia, Sweden, Switzerland and Ukraine. Bosnia, Moldova and Montenegro now have Individual Partnership Action Plans and Ukraine was recently granted a special Annual National Program. Russia was a member of the Partnership for Peace from 1992-1999, but suspended participation in that program and the Permanent Joint Council with NATO over the Alliance’s 78-day bombing war against Yugoslavia in 1999. However, in 2002 the NATO-Russia Council was inaugurated and though in abeyance after the 2008 Georgia-Russia war is functioning again.
All three former Soviet South Caucasus states – Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia – are Partnership for Peace members. The first two also have Individual Partnership Action Plans and Georgia its own Annual National Program, which NATO awarded it shortly after its five-day war with Russia in 2008.
In Central Asia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan are in the Partnership for Peace. Kazakhstan is the first country outside of Europe (inclusive of the Caucasus) to receive an Individual Partnership Action Plan.
In the Middle East and Northern and Western Africa, the following countries are NATO Mediterranean Dialogue partners: Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia. Israel and Egypt each have an Individual Cooperation Program with NATO introduced in the last three years under enhanced Mediterranean Dialogue provisions. Egypt and Jordan have small troop contingents in Afghanistan.
Under the auspices of the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative of 2004, NATO has strengthened military ties with the six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. All but Oman and Saudi Arabia have formalized military cooperation arrangements with NATO. The United Arab Emirates is one of 46 official Troop Contributing Nations for NATO’s war in Afghanistan and there are also Bahraini soldiers in the war theater.
The Brussels-based military bloc also has a category of military cooperation called Contact Countries, which to date include Australia, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea. All four have assisted the war in Afghanistan in various capacities and all but Japan have provided NATO with troops. Other Asia-Pacific states have deployed troops to serve under NATO in Afghanistan and as such are arguably already Alliance partners. Those countries include Singapore, Mongolia and Malaysia.
NATO has initiated a Tripartite Commission consisting of its International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and the armed forces of Afghanistan and Pakistan. A complement to the U.S.-Afghanistan-Pakistan Tripartite Commission, in 2008 former Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs Karl Inderfurth referred to it as the Trilateral Afghanistan-Pakistan-NATO Military Commission, which is a more accurate, if not its formal, title.
A tally of 28 full NATO members and the partners mentioned above produces a list of at least 70 of the 192 members of the United Nations which are linked to the Western military bloc in some manner.
Of all those nations, Pakistan is the second largest, its population of 170,000,000 only surpassed by that of the U.S. It is also one of only seven nations that acknowledge possessing nuclear weapons.
NATO’s grip on Pakistan was increased in 2005 when the military bloc became involved in an earthquake relief operation in the country, NATO’s second mission in Asia.
After that Pakistani military officers attended training courses at the NATO School in Oberammergau, Germany for the first time in 2006. The Pakistani Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff at the time, General Ehsan ul Haq, visited NATO Headquarters in Brussels in the same year.
In 2007 Jaap de Hoop Scheffer became the first NATO secretary general to travel to Pakistan. In the same year Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz visited NATO Headquarters.
The next year President Pervez Musharraf made the same trip, followed by his Chief of Army Staff, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, ten months afterward.
In January of 2009 NATO chief Scheffer visited Pakistan to meet with newly installed President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, Defence Minister Chaudhry Ahmad Mukhtar, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and army chief General Kayani.
Returning the favor, Kayani paid a visit to NATO Headquarters in May, and the next month President Zardari, nine months after assuming his post, traveled to NATO Headquarters for a meeting with the bloc’s top governing body, the North Atlantic Council, being the first elected president of Pakistan to do so. In October of last year NATO conducted an international seminar on Pakistan in Brussels which included the ambassadors of all 28 of the bloc’s member states. In December NATO launched an Individual Tailored Cooperation Package to consolidate the integration of Pakistan.
This year Pakistani Foreign Minister Qureshi was at NATO Headquarters in February to meet with the new secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, and to address the North Atlantic Council, and last month Prime Minister Gilani led a large government delegation to the same location, where he also met with Rasmussen and addressed the North Atlantic Council.
On either end of the International Conference on Afghanistan held in Kabul on July 20, NATO Secretary General Rasmussen visited Tajikistan, where French NATO forces have been stationed since 2002 and where recent reports detail plans for the U.S. to open a training center , and Pakistan.
On July 19 Rasmussen met with Tajik Defense Minister Sherali Khairulloyev and Security Council Secretary Amirkul Azimov to coordinate a common Afghan strategy.
He arrived in Pakistan on July 21, six days after a twenty-member Pakistani parliamentary delegation completed a four-day trip to NATO Headquarters in Belgium “to share information about the Alliance’s policies and activities and to strengthen political dialogue between NATO and elected representatives of Pakistan.” 
The group was also taken to the Allied Command Operations Headquarters, formerly known as Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE), the central command of NATO military forces.
While in Islamabad this Wednesday, Rasmussen was accompanied by a large delegation which included NATO Spokesman James Appathurai and Robert Simmons, NATO’s Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Security Cooperation and Partnership and its first Special Representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia.  Simmons was also in Pakistan in May when he spoke at a conference entitled “NATO’s Transition and its Relation with Pakistan.”
His comments at the time included the assurance that “Pakistan is NATO’s valued partner and our common challenge is war in Afghanistan.”
A report of his visit stated, “Simmons emphasized that NATO does not want to limit [itself] to high level dialogue with Pakistan but also to have practical cooperation by making use of the instrument of [an] Individual Cooperation Program to cover civilian and military affairs” , the same name as that used by NATO for its advanced partnerships with Israel and Egypt.
On May 21 Rasmussen and other NATO officials met with Pakistani President Zardari and with Chief of Army Staff General Kayani and Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Tariq Majid in separate meetings at the military’s General Headquarters. During the meeting with General Majid, discussion “focused on the future NATO strategy for Afghanistan [and] the status of NATO-Pakistan relations including a proposed framework to institutionalize enduring, broad-based and mutually beneficial future cooperation.” 
During Zardari’s meeting with Rasmussen, the Pakistani president stated he “appreciated training facilities offered by NATO to Pakistani officers and called for further increasing such facilities,” and “hail[ed] NATO’s intended support for training counter-terrorism units.” 
Last year the Pakistani military launched a “counterinterrorist” offensive in the Swat Valley and adjoining parts of the North-West Frontier Province that dwarfed in comparison fighting on the other side of the Durand Line, leading to 3,000,000 civilians being displaced according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and Oxfam among other sources. There can be little doubt that the operation was ordered by Washington.
Over the past two years the U.S. has killed over 1,000 people with drone missile attacks in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas. There have been reports of NATO helicopter gunship and commando raids in Pakistan launched from Afghanistan.
On July 21 NATO chief Rasmussen said that “Pakistan and NATO enjoy an important relationship and intend to build upon it…it goes beyond Afghanistan.” Indeed. Rasmussen also “commended Pakistan’s operations in the Tribal Areas….He mentioned the tripartite arrangement with NATO and said [NATO] would encourage Pakistan to continue it.” 
NATO’s first war in Asia and its first ground war is not limited to Afghanistan. In touting his organization’s “long-term partnership with Pakistan,” the Alliance’s secretary general added that NATO’s presence in Afghanistan and several adjoining nations was “driven not by calendar, but by commitment.” 
NATO is in South and Central Asia to stay. In Afghanistan, in Pakistan and in the former Soviet republics of Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, with Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan following suit and India next in line. (The chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen, began a two-day visit to India on July 23, and pledged a continued “commitment” to South and Central Asia.)
In November NATO will endorse its new Strategic Concept, the first since it began its eastern expansion at the fiftieth anniversary summit in Washington, D.C. in 1999. It is NATO’s first 21st century, first avowedly expeditionary military doctrine. It is the blueprint for global NATO, with partners and operations on at least five continents.
1) Afghan War: Petraeus Expands U.S. Military Presence Throughout Eurasia
Stop NATO, July 4, 2010
2) North Atlantic Treaty Organization, July 16, 2010
3) Mr. Simmons’ Mission: NATO Bases From Balkans To Chinese Border
Stop NATO, March 4, 2009
4) Xinhua News Agency, May 21, 2010
5) South Asian News Agency, July 21, 2010
6) Associated Press of Pakistan, July 21, 2010
7) Daily Times, July 22, 2010
July 16, 2010
U.S. Risks Military Clash With China In Yellow Sea
Delayed until after the United States achieved a United Nations Security Council statement on July 9 condemning the sinking of a South Korean warship in March, Washington’s plans for naval maneuvers in the Yellow Sea near Chinese territorial waters are forging ahead.
The joint exercises with South Korea, as news sources from the latter nation have recently disclosed, will be conducted on both sides of the Korean Peninsula, not only in the Yellow Sea as previously planned but also in the Sea of Japan. (Referred to in the Korean press as the West and East Seas, respectively.) Confirmation that the U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS George Washington will participate has further exacerbated concerns in Northeast Asia and raised alarms over American intentions not only vis-a-vis North Korea but China as well.
An exact date for the war games has not yet been announced, but is expected to be formalized no later than when U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates arrive in the South Korean capital of Seoul on July 21.
For weeks now leading Chinese foreign ministry and military officials have condemned the U.S.-led naval exercises, branding them a threat to Chinese national sovereignty and to peace and stability in the region.
China’s influential Global Times wrote on July 12 that “The eventuality that Beijing has to prepare for is close at hand. The delayed US-South Korean naval exercise in the Yellow Sea is now slated for mid-July. According to media reports, a nuclear-powered US aircraft carrier has left its Japanese base and is headed for the drill area.” 
Permanently based in Yokosuka, Japan, the USS George Washington is an almost 100,000-ton supercarrier: “The nuclear carrier, commissioned in 1992, is the sixth Nimitz-class vessel, carrying some 6,250 crew and about 80 aircraft, including FA-18 fighter jets and E-2C Hawkeye airborne early warning aircraft.” 
The F/A-18 Hornet is a supersonic, multirole jet fighter (F/A is for Fighter/Attack) and one of its primary roles is destroying an adversary’s air defenses. The E-2C Hawkeye has been described as the “eyes and ears” of American carrier strike groups, being equipped with long-range surveillance radar.
In addition to the nuclear aircraft carrier, “an Aegis-equipped destroyer, an amphibious assault ship, about four 4,500-ton KDX-II-class destroyers, the 1,800-ton Son Won-il-class submarine and F-15K fighter jets are expected to join the exercise.”  U.S. Aegis class warships (destroyers and cruisers) are equipped for Standard Missile-3 anti-ballistic interceptor missiles, part of a U.S.-led Asia-Pacific (to date, along with the U.S., Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Australia) and ultimately international interceptor missile system.
The F-15K (“Slam Eagle”) is a state-of-the-art multirole (used for both aerial combat and ground attack) jet fighter supplied to South Korea by the U.S.
The presence of a U.S. nuclear aircraft carrier and scores of advanced American and South Korean warplanes off the coast of China in the Yellow Sea – and near Russia’s shore in the Sea of Japan if the Washington is deployed there – qualitatively and precariously raises the level of brinkmanship in Northeast Asia.
The drumbeat of confrontation has been steadily increasing in volume and tempo since the sinking of a South Korean corvette, the Cheonan, on March 26 with the resultant death of 46 crew members.
An investigation into the incident was organized by the U.S. and included experts from the U.S., South Korea, Britain, Australia and Sweden, but not from China and Russia which both border the Korean Peninsula. On May 20 the five-nation team released a report blaming a North Korean torpedo for the sinking of the Cheonan. North Korea denied the accusation and neither Russia nor China, excluded from the investigation, have concurred with the U.S. accusation.
American provocations escalated dramatically at the Group of 20 (G20) summit in Toronto on June 27 when U.S. President Barack Obama (in his own words) held a “blunt” conversation with China’s President Hu Jintao, accusing him and his nation of “willful blindness” in relation to North Korea’s “belligerent behavior.” Upbraiding his Chinese counterpart, Obama stated, “I think there’s a difference between restraint and willful blindness to consistent problems.” (On the same occasion Obama praised South Korea’s President Lee Myung-bak for his “extraordinary restraint.”)
“My hope is that president Hu will recognise as well that this is an example of Pyongyang going over the line.”
President Hu and the Chinese government as a whole would be fully justified in suspecting that mounting U.S. threats are aimed not only (and perhaps not so much) against North Korea as against China itself.
Beijing is not alone in entertaining suspicions that Washington is employing the sinking of the Cheonan as the pretext for achieving broader geopolitical objectives. On July 14 Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, in speaking of the Cheonan incident and its aftermath, pleaded: “I believe that the most important [concern] at the present time is to ease the situation, avoid agitation, escalation of emotions and start preparing conditions for the resumption of the six-party [North Korea, South Korea, China, Russia, the U.S. and Japan] talks.” 
Portraying the UN Security Council statement on the matter last week (which was not the harsh condemnation of North Korea Washington had pushed for) as being a balanced one, he also said, “It is important that nobody tries to distort the evaluations given.”
In addition, referring to North Korea’s latest reaffirmation of its willingness to jointly investigate the Cheonan’s sinking with South Korea, Lavrov said: “This statement is not new. From the very beginning the DPRK confirmed it wanted to participate in the investigation.
“I hear, the sides were to agree on some format of interaction.” 
When on June 27 President Obama stated “our main focus right now is in the U.N. Security Council making sure that there is a crystal-clear acknowledgement that North Korea engaged in belligerent behavior that is unacceptable to the international community” , his characterization of the latter entity excluded not only North Korea but China and Russia as well.
The severity and urgency of mounting U.S. threats is illustrated in a recent column by Shen Dingli, executive dean of the Institute of International Studies and director of the Center for American Studies at Fudan University in Shanghai. His comments end with a frightening parallel and a dire warning:
“The US and South Korea are implementing joint military exercises this month in the Yellow Sea, with the possibility of deploying the US aircraft carrier George Washington.
“The running of such exercises so close to China’s waters has left China strongly, and rightfully, dissatisfied.
“The US and South Korea may argue that the exercise is not in China’s territorial waters, so China has no right to comment.
“However, even if the joint exercises are not in Chinese sovereign waters, they may take place in the waters of China’s interests as the international waters [in the] Yellow Sea near China’s exclusive economic zone are extremely important to China’s interests.
“Given the sophisticated equipment it carries, the George Washington poses a real potential threat to Chinese territory.
“Even if the US-South Korea military exercises are outside China’s territory, the striking power of the US nuclear-powered aircraft carrier also poses a serious threat to neighboring countries.
“The US and South Korea have said the military exercises are being held in order to deter North Korea because of the sinking of the South Korean Cheonan corvette and the death of 46 South Korean sailors.
“But the case for the possible North Korean sinking of the Cheonan has not been thoroughly established.
“South Korea refused to let North Korean officials present their case against the evidence for their supposed complicity in the sinking.
“When South Korea launched the so-called international survey, it refused the participation of China and other countries, which did not increase the credibility of the so-called findings.
“These exercises are needlessly provocative, and will eventually backfire on the US and South Korea.
“During the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, when the Soviet Union established nuclear missile bases on the island, the US objected to the close proximity of the Soviet weaponry even though they traveled only through international waters to reach Cuba, and the US set up a blockade to stop them being deployed.
“When the US ponders the idea of deploying its nuclear aircraft carrier in the Yellow Sea, very close to China, shouldn’t China have the same feeling as the US did when the Soviet Union deployed missiles in Cuba?
“China may not have the military strength to forcibly prevent such exercises now, but it may do so in response to such provocative actions in the future.” 
The only surviving head of state involved in the Cuban Missile Crisis, former Cuban president Fidel Castro, has issued several warnings lately that a U.S. and allied attack on North Korea (and Iran) could result in regional conflagration and even nuclear war.
A Chinese commentary last week provided more details of the threat that a U.S. nuclear aircraft carrier off its shore will pose to the nation and also contained a blunt warning, stating “the anxiety on the Chinese side will be huge if a US aircraft carrier enters the sea connecting the Korean Peninsula and China – it would mean that major cities like Dalian, Qingdao, Tianjin and even Beijing are within US attack range.
“At this stage, China may not react through a show of force to the US fleet cruising into the international waters of the Yellow Sea. But it does not mean that the Chinese people will tolerate it. Whatever harm the US military maneuver may inflict upon the mind of the Chinese, the United States will have to pay for it, sooner or later.” 
Washington’s recent deployment of two nuclear-powered guided missile submarines to China’s neighborhood – the USS Michigan to South Korea and the USS Ohio to the Philippines  – only add to China’s concerns.
As do the ongoing U.S.-led Angkor Sentinel exercises in Cambodia with over 1,000 troops from 26 nations, including American and NATO and Asian NATO partners like Britain, France, Germany and Italy (along with the U.S., the NATO Quint) and Australia, India, Indonesia, Japan and Mongolia. The last country, wedged between China and Russia, is being integrated into the American global military network, even supplying troops to serve under NATO in Afghanistan. 
“This is the first time in the history of the Cambodian military that we are hosting [exercises] with the participation of many countries…which encompasses such a multi-national military basis,” a Cambodian general said of the training. 
“Addressing the ceremony, US Ambassador Carol Rodley said Washington remained committed to enhancing its military relationship with Cambodia. She added that Angkor Sentinel provided a ‘unique opportunity’ to deepen the two countries’ friendship.” 
Cambodia is only once removed from China, the two nations connected by both Laos and Vietnam.
An Agence France-Presse dispatch reported “The United States and Laos pledged to step up cooperation after their highest-level talks since the Vietnam War, the latest country in a renewed US effort to engage Southeast Asia,” after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with Laotian Foreign Minister Thongloun Sisoulith in Washington, D.C. on July 13.
Sisoulith, also his country’s deputy prime minister, is the first major Laotian official to visit the U.S. since before 1975.
State Department spokesman Philip Crowley told reporters “The United States is committed to building our relationship with Laos as part of our broader efforts to expand engagement with Southeast Asia,” and Agence France-Presse added “President Barack Obama’s administration has put a new focus on Southeast Asia, saying the region was overlooked as George W. Bush’s former administration became preoccupied with wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.” 
Next week Clinton will visit Afghanistan, Pakistan, Vietnam and South Korea. The first three countries border China and South Korea faces it across the Yellow Sea. The Pentagon and NATO have ensconced themselves in Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Central Asian nations of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, all five of which border western China. 
Clinton will visit Vietnam to attend meetings of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Lower Mekong Initiative (consisting of Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam).
The State Department’s Vietnam hand, Joe Yun, said that it will be part of “Secretary Clinton’s fourth trip to East Asia in the past year.
“Her engagement in this region demonstrates the vital importance of the Asia-Pacific region, and especially Southeast Asia, to the future of the United States.”
Fellow Southeast Asian nation Malaysia has just announced the deployment of its first military contingent to assist NATO’s war in Afghanistan, “as ties with the United States deepen.”
“In an April meeting between Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak and US President Barack Obama, the two leaders agreed to cooperate on key security issues to create a stronger relationship.” 
Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong recently toured the Mountain Home Air Base in the American state of Idaho where 400 of his country’s pilots and other service members and their families are now stationed. “The Singapore military personnel will be at the US base for the next 20 years or so.”  Singapore troops have been assigned to NATO in Afghanistan and are facing a long stay there also.
Malaysia and Singapore are currently participating for the first time in the mammoth U.S.-led Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) war games in the Pacific which will continue into August.
To indicate to what purpose the U.S. is “expanding engagement” with Vietnam in particular and Southeast Asia in general, the aforementioned Yun revealed that “we also look to Vietnam as ASEAN’s Chair to exercise leadership, including in sensitive areas such as North Korea’s attack on the South Korean naval vessel, the Cheonan. We would like to see Vietnam exercise its influence to press for a genuine dialogue so that the people of Burma can work with the existing government to move forward, and to press Burma on the need to fully implement UN Security Council Resolutions 1718 and 1874. Burma ought to be transparent with the international community in its dealings with North Korea.” 
North Korea and Burma (Myanmar) are, like Vietnam, southern neighbors of China’s and along with the seclusive kingdom of Bhutan are the only nations near China with which the U.S. is not cultivating closer military ties.
Also to China’s south, its giant neighbor India has been pulled deeper into the Pentagon’s orbit since the New Framework For The U.S.-India Defense Relationship was signed in June of 2005, including hosting U.S. warships, warplanes and troops for annual Malabar war games off its coasts. Last December U.S. Pacific Command chief Admiral Robert Willard stated that the Pentagon and India “are in talks to convert their bilateral Malabar series of naval exercises into a joint services war game involving their navies, air forces and marine commandos.” [18) This year’s Malabar 2010 included a U.S. guided missile cruiser and frigate and two destroyers as well as a fast attack submarine.
Last October over 1,000 U.S. and Indian troops participated in the Yudh Abhyas 2009 military exercises in India, which was the first time the Pentagon deployed a Stryker armored combat brigade outside the Iraqi and Afghan war theaters. “The size and scope of this combined exercise is unparalleled” , stated an American commander present for the war games.
President Obama is scheduled to visit India in November and his trip there will “result in some 5 billion dollars worth of American arms sales to India….Observers point out that the role of India’s biggest arms supplier is shifting from Russia to the United States.” 
The arms transactions are reported to include Patriot interceptor missiles, thus complementing comparable missile shield arrangements the U.S. has with Japan, Taiwan, South Korea and Australia in the Asia-Pacific area.
The projected deal also includes Washington supplying Delhi with 10 Boeing C-17 military transport planes: “Once India gets the C-17 transport aircraft, the mobility of its forces stationed along the border with China will be improved….[The] arms sales will improve ties between Washington and New Delhi, and, intentionally or not, will have the effect of containing China’s influence in the region.” 
The U.S. has also lately led joint military exercises in Bangladesh and East Timor, and the annual U.S.-organized Khaan Quest military exercises in Mongolia are to start next month.
A recent article in the China Times by an unidentified researcher with the Chinese navy’s military academy observed that “the US has seemingly become less restrained in its move to push forward an Asian version of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization with its allies in the region.
“In so doing, Washington has harbored the obvious strategic intention of containing China – whose economic and strategic influence has kept increasing in the international arena….” 
It is against that backdrop, in the context of Washington putting the finishing touches to the consolidation of an Asian analogue of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, that China is being challenged in the Yellow Sea.
The last-cited source detailed the Pentagon’s encroachment near China’s borders:
“The radius of the US military operation has expanded to more than 1,000 kilometers, which means a US military mission in the waters off the ROK [South Korea] can still constitute a huge deterrence to China and other countries along the nearby coastline and strike at strategic targets deep inside their territories.
“With unchallenged armed forces, the US has never relented in its efforts towards long-planned strategic adjustment in the Asia-Pacific region. Under this strategy, the US has gradually increased the presence and activity of its warships and airplanes in China’s surrounding maritime area.” 
Regarding the naval exercise with the U.S., South Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman Won Tae-jae recently affirmed that “We can say that it will take place sometime this month. This month, there are a variety of schedules concerning bilateral security and diplomatic issues, and the decision on the exercise will be made in consideration of those schedules.” 
China, which conducted a live-fire naval exercise in the East China Sea from June 30-July 5 “in an apparent show of…force ahead of the [U.S.-South Korean] exercise…appears unnerved as the 97,000-ton [USS George Washington] carrier has an operational range of some 1,000 kilometers and can glean intelligence on military facilities and installments along China’s eastern coastal regions once it is deployed in the West [Yellow] Sea.” 
The U.S. armed forces newspaper Stars and Stripes disclosed on July 14 that “In what the Pentagon says is a direct response to North Korea’s sinking of the South Korean naval vessel Cheonan, the U.S. and South Korea likely will agree to a series of new naval and air exercises next week, when Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton make a joint visit to Seoul.” 
Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell was cited asserting that “The announcement is the result of direct instruction from President Barack Obama to find new ways to collaborate with…Korean counterparts following the attack….He would not offer specifics other than they would occur in the Sea of Japan and the Yellow Sea.”
In his own words, Morrell said “We are not yet ready to announce the precise details of those exercises but they will involve a wide range of assets and are expected to be initiated in the near future.” 
Gates and Clinton are to meet for the first bilateral talks with their South Korean counterparts Minister of National Defense Kim Tae-young and Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan on July 21 and, according to the Pentagon spokesman, will “discuss and likely approve a proposed series of US/ROK combined military exercises.” 
Regarding concerns voiced by China about the U.S. advancing its military so near its coast, Morrell said that “Those determinations are made by us, and us alone….Where we exercise, when we exercise, with whom and how, using what assets and so forth, are determinations that are made by the United States Navy, by the Department of Defense, by the United States government.” 
There is no way that such confrontational, arrogant and vulgar language was not understood at its proper value in Beijing. Nor is the prospect, as noted by Lee Su-seok, analyst at South Korea’s Institute for National Security Strategy, of “the involvement of a U.S. aircraft carrier in the Yellow Sea as having a possible link to plans by the U.S. to defend Taiwan”  likely to go unnoticed.
What the response to the U.S.’s increasingly more brash and adventurist policy might be was indicated in a recent Chinese editorial, which stated in part:
“In their recent responses, several high-ranking Chinese navy officials have made it plain that China will not stay in ‘hands-off’ mode as the drill gets underway. For that will make the US believe that China’s defense circle on the sea is small, and, therefore, US fleets will be able to freely cruise over the Yellow Sea, East China Sea and South China Sea in the future.
“Military experts have warned that if the joint drill really takes place off the western coast of South Korea, Chinese airplanes and warships will very likely go all the way out to closely watch the war game maneuvers. Within such proximity on not-so-clearly-marked international waters, any move that is considered hostile to the other side can willy-nilly trigger a rash reaction, which might escalate into the unexpected or the unforeseen.
“One false move, one wrong interpretation, is all it would take for the best-planned exercises to go awry….The impact of a crisis on that scale would be tremendous, making any dispute over trade or the yuan’s value between the two in recent years pale in comparison….Tension is mounting over the US-South Korean joint exercise. Beijing and Washington still have time, and leeway, to desist from moving toward a possible conflict on the Yellow Sea.” 
A similar warning was sounded in another major Chinese daily:
“If the US and ROK continue to act willfully by holding the controversial military drill, it would pose a challenge to China’s safety and would inevitably provoke a huge backlash from Chinese citizens.
“Today’s China is no longer the China of a century ago that had no choice but to bend to imperialist aggression. After decades of development, especially since the adoption of the reform and opening-up policies, China has become the world’s third largest economy and possesses a modern military capable of any self-defense missions.” 
When Robert Gates and Hillary Clinton arrive in Seoul on July 21 it will formally be to mark the 60th anniversary of the beginning of the Korean War, which within three months drew China into the fighting.
When the two American secretaries meet with South Korea’s defense and foreign ministers and, as State Department spokesman Philip Crowley recently claimed, “likely approve a proposed series of U.S. and Korea combined military exercises, including new naval and air exercises in both the Sea of Japan and the Yellow Sea” , the world should prepare for the threat of a second Korean war, a second U.S.-China armed conflict.
1) Global Times, July 12, 2010
2) Korea Herald, July 13, 2010
4) Russian Information Agency Novosti, July 14, 2010
5) Itar-Tass, July 14, 2010
6) White House, June 27, 2010
7) Global Times, July 14, 2010
8) Global Times, July 6, 2010
9) Pentagon Provokes New Crisis With China
Stop NATO, July 10, 2010
10) Mongolia: Pentagon Trojan Horse Wedged Between China And Russia
Stop NATO, March 31, 2010
11) Xinhua News Agency, July 12, 2010
12) Phnom Penh Post, July 13, 2010
13) Agence France-Presse, July 14, 2010
14) Afghan War: Petraeus Expands U.S. Military Presence Throughout Eurasia
Stop NATO, July 4, 2010
15) Radio Netherlands, July 15, 2010
16) Channel News Asia, July 12, 2010
17) VietNamNet, July 15, 2010
18) Press Trust of India, December 4, 2009
19) Embassy of the United States in India, October 19, 2009
20) Voice of Russia, July 11, 2010
21) Economic Times via Global Times, July 13, 2010
22) China Daily, July 12, 2010
24) Korea Herald, July 13, 2010
26) Stars and Stripes, July 14, 2010
28) Agence France-Presse, July 14, 2010
30) JoongAng Daily, July 12, 2010
31) Global Times, July 12, 2010
32) China Daily, July 12, 2010
33) Yonhap News Agency, July 15, 2010
July 10, 2010
Pentagon Provokes New Crisis With China
Three news features appearing earlier this week highlight tensions between the United States and the People’s Republic of China that, at least in relation to the language used to describe them, would have seemed unimaginable even a few months ago and are evocative more of the Korean War era than of any time since the entente cordiale initiated by the Richard Nixon-Mao Zedong meeting in Beijing in 1972.
To indicate the seriousness of the matter, the stories are from Global Times, a daily newspaper published in conjunction with the People’s Daily, official press organ of the ruling Communist Party of China, and Time, preeminent American weekly news magazine. Both accounts use as their point of departure and source of key information a July 4 report in Hong Kong’s major English-language daily.
On July 6 writer Li Jing penned a news article for Global Times called “US subs reach Asian ports: report,” which detailed the following recent developments:
“Three of the largest submarines of the US Seventh Fleet surfaced in Asia-Pacific ports last week, the South China Morning Post reported Monday [July 5]. The appearance of the USS Michigan in Pusan, South Korea, the USS Ohio in Subic Bay, the Philippines, and the USS Florida in the strategic Indian Ocean outpost of Diego Garcia was a show of force not seen since the end of the Cold War, the paper said, adding that the position of those three ports looks like a siege of China.” 
The piece from the Hong Kong newspaper cited was entitled “US submarines emerge in show of military might: Message unlikely to be lost on Beijing as 3 vessels turn up in Asian ports,” and was in fact dated July 4.
The author, South China Morning Post Asia correspondent Greg Torode, described the simultaneous arrival of three “Ohio-class submarines” equipped with “a vast quantity of Tomahawk cruise missiles” as a reflection of “the trend of escalating submarine activity in East Asia….” 
He further added this noteworthy data: “Between them, the three submarines can carry 462 Tomahawks, boosting by an estimated 60 per cent-plus the potential Tomahawk strike force of the entire Japanese-based Seventh Fleet – the core projection of US military power in East Asia.”
The author quotes without identifying his name or nation a veteran Asian military attaché with reported close ties to both Chinese and U.S. military officials: “460-odd Tomahawks is a huge amount of potential firepower in anybody’s language.
“It is another sign that the US is determined to not just maintain its military dominance in Asia, but to be seen doing so…that is a message for Beijing and for everybody else, whether you are a US ally or a nation sitting on the fence.” 
On July 8 Time magazine’s Mark Thompson elaborated on the earlier report with language, including that of his title, “U.S. Missiles Deployed Near China Send a Message,” derived from the South China Morning Post piece, which Thompson claims contained information planted by “U.S. officials…on July 4, no less”  in a clear signal to the government in mainland China.
The Time journalist added details, though, not in the original story, replete with a good deal of editorializing that perhaps serves the same source he attributes the contents of the Hong Kong article to and for the same reason: As a shot across the bow to China.
His account of last week’s deployments included: “A new class of U.S. superweapon had suddenly surfaced nearby. It was an Ohio-class submarine, which for decades carried only nuclear missiles targeted against the Soviet Union, and then Russia.”
The U.S. has eighteen nuclear-powered Ohio class ballistic missile submarines, fourteen still armed with nuclear warhead-tipped Trident missiles and four which “hold up to 154 Tomahawk cruise missiles each, capable of hitting anything within 1,000 miles with non-nuclear warheads.”
“The 14 Trident-carrying subs are useful in the unlikely event of a nuclear Armageddon, and Russia remains their prime target. But the Tomahawk-outfitted quartet carries a weapon that the U.S. military has used repeatedly against targets in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Iraq and Sudan.” 
With the arrival of the USS Ohio in the Philippines, the USS Michigan in South Korea and the USS Florida “in the strategic Indian Ocean outpost of Diego Garcia”  on the same day, “the Chinese military awoke to find as many as 462 new Tomahawks deployed by the U.S. in its neighborhood.” 
The Time report also revealed that all four Ohio class Tomahawk-armed submarines were operationally deployed away from their home ports for the first time.
Thompson wrote that the coordinated actions were “part of a policy by the U.S. government to shift firepower from the Atlantic to the Pacific theater, which Washington sees as the military focus of the 21st century.”
Regarding the submarines still carrying Trident missiles, he rhetorically added, “Why 14 subs, as well as bombers and land-based missiles carrying nuclear weapons, are still required to deal with the Russian threat is a topic for another day.” 
All three journalists cited – Jing, Torode and Thompson – place the U.S. submarine deployments within a broader and also a more pressing context.
The South China Morning Post writer stated: “In policies drafted under then-president George W. Bush, a Republican, and continued by the administration of his successor, Democrat Barack Obama, the Pentagon is shifting 60 per cent of its 53 fast-attack [as distinct from ballistic and guided missile] submarines to the Pacific – a process that is now virtually complete.
“But the presence of the larger cruise-missile submarines shows that, at times, the US forward posture will be significantly larger.”
The USS Ohio, for example, “has been operating out of Guam for most of the last year, taking advantage of the island’s expanding facilities to extend its operations in the western Pacific.
“It is due to return soon, but the Florida and the Michigan are likely to remain in the region for many months yet, using Guam and possibly Diego Garcia for essential maintenance and crew changes.”
Additionally, “The presence of the Florida, based on the US east coast, appears to confirm the US is still routinely bringing submarines under the arctic ice cap to East Asia.” 
Just as the Pentagon is moving nuclear submarines under the northern polar ice cap to the Indian Ocean, so it has recently reached an “agreement [that] will allow troops to fly directly from the United States over the North Pole” to Afghanistan and “the region” by way of Kazakhstan, which borders China as well as Russia. 
The U.S. military “siege of China” is proceeding on several fronts, on land as well as under water and in Central as well as South and East Asia. But what primarily had been a policy of surveillance and probing China’s perimeter is now entering a new phase.
That the U.S. currently has over 60 per cent of the Tomahawk cruise missiles assigned to its Japan-based Seventh Fleet near China emphasizes the qualitative escalation of Washington’s show of strength vis-a-vis Beijing. One related to, as was seen above, a strategic shift of attack submarines nearer China and also to the crisis on the Korean Peninsula that was exacerbated by the sinking of a South Korean warship, the Cheonan, in March.
There has even been speculation that U.S. submarine deployments and other “messages” delivered to China of late were designed to pressure Beijing into taking a tougher stance toward North Korea over the Cheonan incident. What journalists have been referring to as messages would in an earlier age have been called saber-rattling, brinkmanship and gunboat diplomacy.
U.S.-China relations sharply deteriorated this January when the Obama administration finalized an almost $6.5 billion arms sales package for Taiwan which includes 200 Patriot missiles.  An article on the subject in the New York Times on January 31 was titled, revealing enough, “U.S. Arms for Taiwan Send Beijing a Message.”
China suspended military ties with the U.S., and bad blood has persisted throughout the year, resulting in Secretary of Defense Robert Gates scrapping plans to visit Beijing early last month when he was effectively disinvited by Chinese officialdom on the prompting of the military.
The White House and the Pentagon have been sending a number of unequivocal – and increasingly provocative – messages to China this year.
The new U.S. administration signalled a confrontational approach early on. In May of 2009 Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, barely three months in her post, stated, “The Obama administration is working to improve deteriorating U.S. relations with a number of Latin American nations to counter growing Iranian, Chinese and Russian influence in the Western Hemisphere….” 
Later in the year then Director of National Intelligence (and retired admiral and former commander-in-chief of the Pacific Command) Dennis Blair released the latest quadrennial National Intelligence Strategy report which said “Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea pose the greatest challenges to the United States’ national interests. 
While Blair headed up the Pacific Command (PACOM) from 1999-2002, his role included overseeing a vast area of the planet that includes China (since the Ronald Reagan administration assigned it to that military command in 1983).
Arrogating the right to divide the entire world into military zones, areas of operation, has never been attempted by any other nation, any group of nations, not even all the nations of the world collectively (in the United Nations or otherwise). But the U.S. has and does do just that. It has even added two new Unified Combatant Commands – Northern Command and Africa Command – in recent years, in 2002 and 2007 respectively.
The Pacific Command is the oldest and largest of the six current regional commands (the others being the Africa, Northern, European, Central and Southern Commands), and was formed during the dawning of the Cold War in 1947. Its area of responsibility takes in over 50 per cent of the world – 105 million square miles – 36 nations and almost 60 per cent of the world’s population.
300,000 troops from all major branches of the U.S. armed forces – the Air Force, Army, Marine Corps and Navy – are assigned to it, 20 per cent of all active duty American service members.
Pacific Command is in charge of military defense treaties with Australia, Japan, the Philippines, Thailand and South Korea.
The U.S. is also alone in assigning the world’s oceans and seas to naval commands. Washington has six naval fleets – the Fourth Fleet (the Caribbean, Central and South America) was reactivated in 2008 after being disbanded in 1950) – and just as Pacific Command is the largest unified, multi-service command, so the Seventh is the largest forward-deployed fleet, with 50-60 warships, 350 aircraft and as many as 60,000 Sailors and Marines at any given time. It is based in Japan and its area of responsibility includes over 50 million square miles of the (largely western) Pacific and Indian Oceans.
The U.S. also has eleven aircraft carriers, ten of them nuclear-powered and all eleven part of strike groups.  (China has no and Russia one carrier.)
The Time magazine article quoted from earlier mentioned that the deployment of four U.S. guided missile submarines to East Asia and the Indian Ocean is not the only development that China needs to be concerned about. The U.S. is simultaneously presiding over six-week biennial Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) military exercises in Hawaii with over 20,000 troops, 36 warships and submarines (25 American) and 180 planes and helicopters.
RIMPAC is a biennial, multinational exercise designed to strengthen regional partnerships and improve multi-national interoperability”
This year’s RIMPAC, which began on June 23 and is to be completed by the end of July, includes for the first time the participation of France, Colombia – with which the U.S. has recently concluded an agreement for the use of seven of its military bases  – and the Southeast Asia nations of Malaysia and Singapore. The other countries involved are Australia, Canada, Chile, Indonesia, Japan, the Netherlands, Peru, South Korea and Thailand. The five-week war games involve “missile exercises and the sinking of three abandoned vessels playing the role of enemy ships.” 
The combined task force commander for RIMPAC 2010 is commander of the U.S. Third Fleet, whose area of responsibility is approximately 50 million square miles of the eastern Pacific, Vice Admiral Richard Hunt, who stated, “This is the largest RIMPAC that we’ve had,” and one which “clearly focuses on maritime domain awareness dealing with expanded military operations across the complete spectrum of warfare.” 
Time’s Mark Thompson also wrote: “Closer to China, CARAT 2010 – for Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training – just got underway [July 5] off Singapore. The operation involves 17,000 personnel and 73 ships from the U.S., Singapore, Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand.
“China is absent from both exercises, and that’s no oversight.” 
This February Cobra Gold 2010, “the largest multinational military exercise in the world,” [19}, was launched in Thailand (separated from China by only one nation, either Laos or Myanmar) and as with all previous Cobra Gold war games was run by U.S. Pacific Command and the Royal Thai Supreme Command. Joining the U.S. and Thailand in this year’s exercises, designed “to build interoperability between the United States and its Asia-Pacific regional partners,”  were the armed forces of Japan, Indonesia, Singapore and, for the first time, South Korea.
From June 8-25 the latest U.S. Air Force-led Red Flag Alaska air maneuvers were held near the eastern Pacific. “The Red Flag exercises, conducted in four-to-six cycles a year by the 414th Combat Training Squadron of the 57th Wing, are very realistic aerial war games. The purpose is to train pilots from the U.S., NATO and other allied countries for real combat situations.” 
Over a thousand airmen from five nations – the U.S., Japan, South Korea, Romania and Belgium – assembled at Alaska’s Elmendorf and Eielson Air Force Bases for air combat training which “unites forces from all over the world.”
“South Korea, a country already accustomed to working with U.S. troops, is also in Alaska to strengthen the two nations’ ties after the sinking of a South Korean warship by a North Korean submarine.
“‘We have the American Air Force in Korea, and the coalition and the combined working environment is very important,’ said Lt. Hoon Min Kim, a member of South Korea’s air force. ‘And being able to perform under a combined environment is therefore essential as well.'” 
The incorporation of progressively more Asia-Pacific nations into what has been referred to as an Asian NATO is by no means directed solely at North Korea nor is it understood as such by officials in Beijing.
Participants in that arrangement, among them Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and Mongolia, have troops serving under NATO in Afghanistan. Recently 140 new South Korean forces arrived at the Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan to reinforce a base in Parwan province recently subjected to repeated rocket attacks. Seoul’s troop strength in the war zone is now at 230.
This month the government of Singapore announced it will increase its soldiers in the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force to “a record 162, from 97 last year.”
“Next month, the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) will send a 52-man unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) team – its biggest deployment to Afghanistan – to Oruzgan [Uruzgan], one of two provinces where Singapore has troops.” 
Australia has the largest troop contingent serving under NATO in Afghanistan of any non-full member state – 1,550 – and 17 of its soldiers have been killed, 143 injured in NATO’s first war in Asia.
Earlier this year NATO announced that Mongolia and South Korea have become the 45th and 46th nations to provide it with troops for the war in Afghanistan. Mongolia borders both China and Russia and is the object of intense efforts by the U.S. to increase military cooperation and integration.  On July 6 NATO’s Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs and Security Policy Dirk Brengelmann paid a two-day visit to South Korea, where he stated, “Our security interests and security interests of countries like Korea coincide today more than ever.”
A news report of his visit paraphrased his comments as asserting that “The world’s biggest military alliance, NATO, is looking to increase cooperation with South Korea and other partners beyond Europe and North America,” and added that “Speaking of cooperation, Brengelmann noted NATO’s show of support for South Korea in light of the sinking of its warship Cheonan….The diplomat said some NATO members also serve on the U.N. Security Council and that the NATO members will try to ensure any Security Council action on the Cheonan sinking will represent their views expressed in the NATO statement.” 
Another country that shares borders with China and Russia, Kazakhstan, has allowed the U.S. and NATO transit and overflight rights for the Afghan war and last week the nation’s president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, signed a law permitting the Pentagon to ship “special cargo” – armored vehicles – through his country.
The U.S. and NATO have transited hundreds of thousands of troops through the Manas Air Base (now Transit Center at Manas) in Kyrgyzstan, which also borders China, since 2001 and in recent months troops have passed in and out from Afghanistan at the rate of 55,000 a month, 660,000 a year.  Washington has announced plans to open new training bases in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, the second nation also adjoining China.
With Afghanistan and Pakistan, which also have borders with China, the U.S. and NATO have a military presence in five nations on China’s western flank and a foothold in Mongolia. The U.S. and NATO war in South Asia will enter its tenth year this autumn with no sign of Western military presence departing from China’s backyard.
The U.S. military remains ensconced in Japan and South Korea, has returned to the Philippines (including camps in Mindanao), is solidifying bilateral and multilateral military relations with practically all nations in Southeast Asia, and for the past five years has cultivated India as a military partner. [India is currently an observer at the RIMPAC exercises.) Japan, Taiwan and Australia are being integrated into a U.S.-designed regional and broader global interceptor missile system.
The U.S. is conducting regular military exercises, building military partnerships, stationing troops and opening bases around China’s periphery, in addition to the positioning of warships, submarines and aircraft carriers in the waters off its coasts.
What alarms China most at the moment, though, is a proposed joint U.S.-South Korean military exercise in the Yellow Sea, enclosed by both Koreas to the east and China to the north and west.
China’s Global Times recently quoted Xu Guangqian, military strategist at the People’s Liberation Army’s Academy of Military Sciences, issuing this warning: “China’s position on the Yellow Sea issue demonstrates its resolution to safeguard national rights and interests. It also reflects that China is increasingly aware of the fact that its strategic space has confronted threats from other countries.” 
China, which just concluded six days of naval drills of its own in the East China Sea, had more reason to be concerned when it was disclosed earlier this month that a U.S. aircraft carrier would join the maneuvers off its Yellow Sea coast.
On July 8 China renewed its opposition to the planned U.S.-South Korean war games, with Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang telling reporters, “China has expressed its serious concerns with relevant parties. We are firmly opposed to foreign military vessels engaging in activities that undermine China’s security interests in the Yellow Sea or waters close to China.” 
An unsigned editorial in the Chinese Global Times of July 8 stated, “Beijing sees the joint exercise not only as being aimed at Pyongyang, but also as a direct threat to its territorial waters and coastline,” and blamed South Korean President Lee Myung-bak for worsening relations between the two nations:
“It is not known whether Lee had thought of China’s reaction when he announced in May the drill with the US.
“Did he foresee Chinese people’s anger? Or, did he intend to provoke the country on the other side of the Yellow Sea?
“It is a shame and a provocation on China’s doorstep.
“If a US aircraft carrier enters the Yellow Sea, it will mean a major setback to Seoul’s diplomacy, as hostility between the peoples of China and South Korea will probably escalate, which Beijing and Seoul have been working for years to avoid.” 
President Lee met with his American counterpart, Barack Obama, on the sidelines of the Group of Eight summit in Toronto late last month, during which a previous arrangement to transfer wartime command of South Korean forces to the nation in 2012 were postponed if not abandoned. In Obama’s words, “One of the topics that we discussed is that we have arrived at an agreement that the transition of operational control for alliance activities in the Korean peninsula will take place in 2015.” In the five-year interim “if war were to break out on the Korean peninsula the United States would assume operational command of South Korean forces.” 
If Washington is planning direct intervention on the Korean Peninsula as its military buildup in the region, including off China’s shores, might indicate, the words of former South Korean president Kim Young-Sam a decade ago are worth recalling. Two years after stepping down as head of state, Kim revealed to one of his nation’s main newspapers that he had intervened to prevent a second Korean war, that his government “stopped US President Bill Clinton from launching an air strike against North Korea’s nuclear facilities in June 1994.”
He initiated a last-minute phone conversation with the U.S. president which “saved the Korean peninsula from an imminent war,” as “The Clinton government was preparing a war” by deploying an aircraft carrier off the eastern coast of North Korea “close enough for its war planes to hit the North’s nuclear facilities in Yongbyon.”
Furthermore, Kim warned the U.S. ambassador in Seoul that “another war on the Korean peninsula would turn all of Korea into a bloodbath, killing between 10 and 20 million people and destroying South Korea’s prosperous economy.” 
Any catastrophic event on the Korean Peninsula, and war is the ultimate cataclysm, could lead to hundreds of thousands of North Korean refugees fleeing to Russia and millions to China.
The nearly nine-year war in Afghanistan being waged by the U.S. and NATO has led to an explosion of violence and destabilization in three nations flanking China: Afghanistan itself, Pakistan and Kyrgyzstan.
Also, since 2001 Afghanistan has become the world’s largest producer of opium and hashish, flooding the European and other drug markets. A forum entitled “Afghan Drug Production – A Challenge to the International Community” was held in Moscow a month ago.
A Russian report on the meeting stated “The situation around drug production in Afghanistan has gained a catastrophic character. Some 100,000 people died globally from Afghan drugs in 2009 alone. In all, Afghan-made opiates have claimed one million human lives in the past decade, and 16 million more ruined their health.”  30,000 of the drug-related deaths occurred in Russia. The United Nations estimates that Afghanistan currently accounts for 92 per cent of world opium cultivation.
China and Russia are viewed as, if not challengers to U.S. global dominance, impediments to its further consolidation. And not in the military sphere but in the fields of economics, trade, energy and transportation. Destabilization of their neighborhoods and frontiers is one manner of limiting competition.
All means fair and foul are employed to eliminate obstacles to uncontested supremacy, and what the world’s sole military superpower (the term is President Obama’s from his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech) truly excels at is expanding its international military machine with an unflinching willingness to use it.
1) Global Times, July 8, 2010
2) South China Morning Post, July 4, 2010 http://www.scmp.com/portal/site/SCMP/menuitem.2c913216495213d5df646910cba0a0a0/?vgnextoid=6c48dbee25999210VgnVCM100000360a0a0aRCRD&vgnextfmt=teaser&ss=Asia+%26+World&s=News (Subscribers only)
4) Time, July 8, 2010
6) South China Morning Post, July 4, 2010
7) Time, July 8, 2010
9) South China Morning Post, July 4, 2010
10) Kazakhstan: U.S., NATO Seek Military Outpost Between Russia And China
Stop NATO, April 14, 2010
11) U.S.-China Military Tensions Grow
Stop NATO, January 19, 2010
12) Associated Press, May 1, 2009
13) Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, September 16, 2009
14) U.S. Consolidates Military Network In Asia-Pacific Region
April 28, 2010
15) Colombia: U.S. Escalates War Plans In Latin America
Stop NATO, July 22, 2009
16) Time, July 8, 2010
17) Navy Times, July 6, 2010
19) American Forces Press Service, January 13, 2010
22) KTUU TV, June 24, 2010
23) AsiaOne, July 1, 2010
24) Mongolia: Pentagon Trojan Horse Wedged Between China And Russia
Stop NATO, March 31, 2010
25) Yonhap News Agency, July 6, 2010
26) Kyrgyzstan And The Battle For Central Asia
Stop NATO, April 7, 2010
27) Global Times, July 6, 2010
28) Agence France-Presse, July 8, 2010
29) Global Times, July 8, 2010
30) Agence France-Presse, July 27, 2010
31) Agence France-Presse, May 24, 2000
32) Itar-Tass, June 9, 2010
July 4, 2010
Afghan War: Petraeus Expands U.S. Military Presence Throughout Eurasia
On July 4 General David Petraeus assumed command of 142,000 U.S. and NATO troops in a ceremony in the Afghan capital of Kabul. He succeeded the disgraced and soon to be retired General Stanley McChrystal as chief of all foreign troops in Afghanistan, those serving under U.S. Forces Afghanistan (USFOR-A)/Operation Enduring Freedom and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).
He now commands military units from 46 official troop contributing nations and others from several additional countries not officially designated as such but with forces in or that will soon be deployed to Afghanistan, such as Egypt, Jordan and Colombia. Neither the Carthaginian commander Hannibal during the Second Punic War nor Napoleon Bonaparte in the wars that bore his name commanded troops speaking as many diverse tongues.
That Petraeus took charge of soldiers from fifty nations occupying a conquered country on his own country’s Independence Day has gone without commentary, either ironic or indignant. In 1775 American colonists began an eight-year war against foreign troops – those of Britain and some 30,000 German auxiliaries, the latter a quarter of all forces serving under English command in North America. Currently the three nations providing the most troops for the nearly nine-year-old and increasingly deadly war in Afghanistan are the U.S. (almost 100,000), Britain (9,500) and Germany (4,500).
Petraeus’s remarks on the occasion of accepting his new dual command contained the standard U.S. and NATO characterization of their war in Afghanistan as aimed exclusively against armed extremists, in particular those portrayed as fighters from other countries. A representative quote states “al-Qaeda and its network of extremist allies will not be allowed to once again establish sanctuaries in Afghanistan.” Two hundred and thirty-five years ago the government of King George III may well have spoken in a similar vein concerning the likes of Johann de Kalb, Thaddeus Kosciuszko, Casimir Pulaski, Friedrich Von Steuben and the Marquis de Lafayette illegally entering British territories along the Atlantic Seaboard and waging warfare against the Crown’s troops.
Petraeus arrived in Kabul on July 2, direct from Belgium where he had addressed NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the 28 member states’ permanent representatives in the North Atlantic Council and representatives of 46 ISAF contributors at NATO Headquarters in Brussels and Admiral James Stavridis, Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), General Egon Ramms, Commander Joint Force Command Brunssum, and other senior military staff at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe near Mons. (Two days later at NATO headquarters in Kabul he had two flags bestowed on him, “one for the U.S. and the other for NATO.”) 
NATO chief Rasmussen was in Lisbon, Portugal the day Petraeus left Belgium for Afghanistan, in part to prepare for the November summit of the world’s only military bloc there in November, where NATO will adopt its new, 21st century, Strategic Concept and endorse plans for an integrated interceptor missile grid to cover almost the entire European continent in conjunction with, and under the control of, the U.S.
In reference to General Petraeus taking up his new duties, Rasmussen stated at a press conference with Portuguese Foreign Minister Luis Amado that “It has been a change of command but it will not be a change of strategy.”
A week after Stanley McChrystal’s resignation as head of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan , an ephemeral scandal that disappeared as quickly, which is to say instantaneously, as it developed, the U.S. Senate voted as it customarily does in matters of foreign policy – unanimously – and in a 99-0 vote confirmed Petraeus as the new commander of the world’s longest and largest-scale war.
He told Senate members on June 30 that “My sense is that the tough fighting will continue; indeed, it may get more intense in the next few months.”
A few days earlier he said of President Barack Obama’s proposed date for beginning the withdrawal of American and NATO troops from Afghanistan that the meaning of that pledge by the president, Petraeus’ commander-in-chief, was “one of urgency – not that July 2011 is when we race for the exits, reach for the light switch and flip it off.” Last December Petraeus asserted that there was no plan for a “rush to the exits” and that there “could be tens of thousands of American troops in Afghanistan for several years.” 
In May he spoke at an Armed Forces Day dinner in Louisville, Kentucky – on a day that Afghan President Hamid Karzai was visiting the same state – and insisted that “the US must continue to send troops to Afghanistan….” 
To indicate how thoroughly the Pentagon and NATO are inextricably enmeshed in not only the Afghan campaign but in a far broader and deeper partnership, a few days before Petraeus, speaking of his then-role as chief of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), said that he has striven to “operationalize” U.S.-NATO military integration at CENTCOM “where up to 60 representatives of coalition partner countries serve. In addition, officers from the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia act as representatives of CentCom, increasing further the need to share sensitive information.” 
Afghanistan falls within CENTCOM’s area of responsibility and the war in that country is a mechanism for extending the Pentagon’s military contacts, deployments, acquisition of bases and general warfighting interoperability with scores of nations both within and outside CENTCOM’s formal ambit.
In April, three months before taking up his Afghan war post, Petraeus was in Poland – covered by U.S. European Command (EUCOM) – to meet with the nation’s Chief of the General Staff, General Franciszek Gagor, discuss the war that has now cost the lives of nineteen Polish soldiers, and disclose that “in a few months a 800-1,000 strong U.S. battalion would reinforce Poland’s ISAF forces in the Afghan province of Ghazni.
“Petraeus said that the U.S. troops would be placed under the Polish commander who is responsible for the province.” 
He also met with Polish Defense Minister Bogdan Klich and President Lech Kaczynski as well as delivering a lecture at the National Defence Academy. Kaczynski, who would perish in an airplane crash three days later, presented Petraeus with the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland and the Iraq Star. 
Other new NATO members in Eastern Europe are equally involved, with the Pentagon employing seven new military bases in Bulgaria and Romania to train Stryker brigades and airborne troops for the war in Afghanistan. 
As commander of CENTCOM and superior to General McChrystal in Afghanistan, Petraeus methodically laid the groundwork for expanding the scope of the greater Afghan war throughout his command’s broad geographical reach, the heart of what has been deemed the broader Middle East – from Egypt in the West to Kazakhstan in the East, taking in Iraq and the rest of the Persian Gulf region, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Yemen, and all of Central and much of South Asia.
On January 2 of this year he traveled to Yemen and met with President Ali Abdullah Saleh after the Christmas Day airline bomb scare outside Detroit, though Petraeus had also been in Yemen the preceding summer. Pentagon assistance to the Yemeni government, administered under what is described as a counter-terrorism program, had grown from $4.6 million in fiscal 2006 to $67 million in fiscal 2009.
While in Iraq the day before his departure for Yemen in January, Petraeus stated, “We have, it’s well known, about $70 million in security assistance last year. That will more than double this coming year.” 
At the time leading U.S. officials and those of its NATO allies strained to link their counterinsurgency wars – overt and otherwise – in the Horn of Africa and Gulf of Aden regions as extensions of the Global War on Terror from Afghanistan and Pakistan to Yemen and Somalia. Then British Prime Minister Gordon Brown even affirmed that “The weakness of al Qaeda in Pakistan has forced them out of Pakistan and into Yemen and Somalia.” 
In May the New York Times revealed that last September Petraeus had authorized covert special forces operations under a directive called the Joint Unconventional Warfare Task Force Execute Order.
A United Press International feature last month indicated part of the order’s designs:
“The recent disclosure that the U.S. military is expanding its covert operations in the Middle East, Central Asia and the Horn of Africa is widely seen as a dangerous precedent, with Iran as one of the main targets….Officials stressed that the directive…permits operations that could pave the way toward possible military attacks against Iran if the confrontation over Tehran’s nuclear program worsens.” 
This March the U.S. Defense Department’s website featured an article entitled “Centcom Looks Beyond Iraq, Afghanistan, Petraeus Says” in which, in addition to discussing counterinsurgency operations in Pakistan and Yemen, “Petraeus told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the United States must remain vigilant in overseeing broader security challenges throughout the region.
“Petraeus called Iran the ‘primary state-level threat’ in the Middle East. He told the panel that Iran undermines security throughout the region in its efforts to gain nuclear weapons, which threatens a broader arms race, and uses its paramilitary force to influence Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Gaza, Afghanistan and the Gulf region.” 
Two months before he announced the U.S. was maintaining several Aegis class warships in the Persian Gulf, ships equipped with advanced missile radar and Standard Missile-3 interceptor missiles. “The U.S. positioned eight Patriot missile batteries in the Middle East and Aegis ballistic missile cruisers in the Persian Gulf, Gen. David Petraeus, the U.S. Central Command leader, told the Institute for the Study of War on Jan. 22.” 
The Patriot Advanced Capability-3 theater missile interceptors are to be deployed to Iran’s Persian Gulf neighbor states of Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.
In early March Petraeus was in what is now crisis-stricken Kyrgyzstan, less than a month before President Kurmanbek Bakiyev was overthrown in a bloody uprising . He had arrived in Kyrgyzstan on March 10, one day after “the U.S. embassy said [a] $5.5 million anti-terrorist center would be built in Batken in southern Kyrgyzstan – where Russian and Kyrgyz officials had earlier said Moscow might consider building a similar military facility.”  It would appear that Petraeus and the Pentagon once more beat Russia to the punch.
He met with Bakiyev (who would be forced into exile early the next month) “to discuss bilateral cooperation and the situation in Afghanistan.”  The U.S. has used an air base at the Manas International Airport near the nation’s capital since 2001 for moving troops in and out of Afghanistan, recently at a rate of 55,000 a month.
A political analyst based in the Kyrgyz capital of Bishkek, Aleksandr Knyazev, was quoted by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty during Petraeus’ visit on the repercussions of the Pentagon constructing a counterinsurgency/special forces base in the country: “Such a demonstrative act by the Kyrgyz side to agree…to (build a U.S.-funded counterterrorism center) is like throwing down a challenge to Russia and China.”
The feature from which the above comment is borrowed added:
“The Kyrgyz plan to set up a U.S.-funded training center in Batken might upset Russia, as the Russian-dominated Collective Security Treaty Organization announced its intention last year to build a military base in southern Kyrgyzstan.
“Kyrgyzstan had been under pressure by Russia and China to close the U.S. air base. The Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a regional security treaty dominated by Russia and China, has called on the United States to close its military bases in Central Asia.
“According to the U.S. Embassy in Bishkek, Washington has committed $5.5 million toward the completion of the counterterrorism center.” 
Petraeus also visited Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan in early April and immediately after his return Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev met with President Barack Obama in Washington. Nazarbayev announced that he had granted the Pentagon the right to fly troops and military equipment over his nation for the expanding war in Afghanistan. According to Michael McFaul, Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs and Senior Director of Russian and Eurasian Affairs at the National Security Council, “the agreement will allow troops to fly directly from the United States over the North Pole to the region.” 
In early June a report titled “Pentagon Looks to Plant New Facilities in Central Asia” disclosed that the U.S. is “preparing to embark on a mini-building boom in Central Asia” and “the US military wants to be involved in strategic construction projects in all five Central Asian states, including Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.” 
In what was described as the major component of the project, the aforementioned training center in Kyrgyzstan, the report also stated, “The facility was originally intended to be built in Batken. But now it appears that it will be situated in Osh.” 
Three days after the above excerpts appeared online the city of Osh erupted into violence, a deadly conflict between ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbeks which cost hundreds of lives and led to hundreds of thousands of Uzbeks being displaced.
An account of an announcement reported to have been posted on the U.S. government’s Federal Business Opportunities website in the middle of this May included this quote: “We anticipate two different projects in Kyrgyzstan. Both are estimated to be in the $5 million to $10 million dollar range.”
The posting “added that up to $5 million each was earmarked for Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. It also listed two separate proposals for Tajikistan, one valued at up to $5 million, the other worth up to $10 million.” 
The U.S. military was evicted from the Uzbek air base at Karshi-Khanabad in November of 2005 and neither troops nor planes have returned since. But this April General Petraeus visited Uzbekistan, met with President Islam Karimov, and “the sides exchanged opinions on the issues of further development of Uzbek-US cooperation and other areas of mutual interest.”  American troops and pilots may soon join their German NATO allies operating from the air base at Termez near the Uzbek-Afghan border.
On June 25 Western news agencies reported that Ken Gross, the American ambassador to Tajikistan, where a French-dominated NATO operation has been run since early 2002 at the Dushanbe Airport but where to date no U.S. forces have been stationed, revealed that the Pentagon is to “build a facility for training local troops” to be opened next year. The American envoy said that “The plan [includes] almost $10 million to build this national training centre for the Tajik armed forces.” 
An Agence France-Presse report added that “The United States has in past years built training facilities, financed military programs and established airbases in a handful of strategic ex-Soviet republics in Central Asia….These include Georgia and Azerbaijan in the Caucasus as well as Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan in Central Asia.” 
Petraeus’s visits to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan in April followed up on trips to the same three Central Asian nations last August, to Tajikistan in October and to Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan in January of last year.
What his visits have focused on and in large part accomplished is to secure transit rights and, as has been seen above, a military foothold in the former Soviet republics in Central Asia. Starting in earnest with his tour of Central Asia in January of 2009, Petraeus has solidified what is known as a Northern Distribution Network for the Afghan war, a three-prong project that takes in a majority of the fifteen nations that formerly constituted the Soviet Union and that circumvents Pakistan, hitherto the main land route for U.S. and NATO supplies into Afghanistan but one which is more endangered by attacks with each passing day.
The first route starts in Latvia on the Baltic Sea and proceeds overland through Russia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. Last month “NATO marked a new first in its Afghan campaign…as officials announced that the alliance had sent supplies by rail to its troops via Russia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan for the first time….”
“The first trial shipment of the NATO train departed Riga, Latvia on May 14 and arrived in Afghanistan on June 9….” 
The second starts at the Georgian Black Sea port cities of Poti and Batumi and moves south and east to Azerbaijan, then across the Caspian Sea to Kazakhstan, from there to Uzbekistan and then to Afghanistan. A third option bypasses Uzbekistan by going, as the first does, from Latvia through Russia to Kazakhstan, but then from the last country through Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to Afghanistan.
As commander of Central Command Petraeus oversaw a proxy war on the Arabian Peninsula  in Yemen and in conjunction with NATO engineered the military buildup against Iran in the Persian Gulf. 
He also to varying degrees pulled the Central Asian nations of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan deeper into the Afghan war nexus. Even nations outside of Central Command’s area of operations – Bulgaria, Romania, Poland, Latvia, Georgia, Azerbaijan and now Russia – are part of the network. Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Ukraine have troop contingents serving under NATO in Afghanistan, with Moldova likely to provide troops soon. Of the fifteen former Soviet republics, then, only Belarus would remain completely aloof from the war.
While speaking outside NATO headquarters in Kabul on July 4, General Petraeus stated “We are in this to win.” Only four days before, the deadliest month of the war for NATO forces ended and with it the lives of over a hundred foreign soldiers.
Petraeus’s 150,000 U.S. and NATO troops are not going to turn the tide in America’s longest, and NATO’s first ground, war. Nor will the conflict be shortened by pulling more nations, with almost a third of the world’s already embroiled, into the Afghan vortex.
1) Associated Press, July 4, 2010
2) West’s Afghan Debacle: Commander Dismissed As War Deaths Reach Record Level
Stop NATO, June 25, 2010
3) New York Times, December 7, 2009
Nobel Committee Celebrates War As Peace
Stop NATO, December 8, 2009
4) KEYC TV, May 15, 2010
5) Air Force Times, May 12, 2010
6) Xinhua News Agency, April 7, 2010
8) U.S. And NATO Accelerate Military Build-Up In Black Sea Region
Stop NATO, May 20, 2010
9) Reuters, January 1, 2010
10) Agence France-Presse, January 4, 2010
U.S., NATO Expand Afghan War To Horn Of Africa And Indian Ocean
Stop NATO, January 8, 2010
11) United Press International, June 3, 2010
12) U.S. Department of Defense
American Forces Press Service
March 16, 2010
13) Stars and Stripes, February 3, 2010
U.S. Extends Missile Buildup From Poland And Taiwan To Persian Gulf
Stop NATO, February 3, 2010
14) Kyrgyzstan And The Battle For Central Asia
Stop NATO, April 7, 2010
15) Reuters, March 9, 2010
16) Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, March 10, 2010
18) Washington Post, April 12, 2010
Kazakhstan: U.S., NATO Seek Military Outpost Between Russia And China
Stop NATO, April 14, 2010
19) EurasiaNet, June 8, 2010
22) UzReport, April 7, 2010
23) Agence France-Presse, June 25, 2010
25) Deutsche Presse-Agentur, June 11, 2010
26) Yemen: Pentagon’s War On The Arabian Peninsula
Stop NATO, December 15, 2009
27) NATO’s Role In The Military Encirclement Of Iran
Stop NATO, February 10, 2010