The bear awakens-Dr Farrukh Saleem

The US Army’s III Corps is in Iraq. The 4th Infantry Division is at Camp Victory. The 3rd Infantry Division is in Baghdad. The 1st Armoured Division is in Tikrit. America’s 1st, 2nd and 3rd Brigades have been fighting in Iraq. America’s 25th Infantry Division and the 172nd Infantry Brigade have been engaged in Iraq. America’s XVIII Airborne Corps, 1st Armoured Division and the 4th Infantry Division have also been occupied in Iraq. The 10th Aerospace Expeditionary Forces (AEF) and the 386th Air Expeditionary Wing are also busy fighting. The US Navy’s aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt has been supporting air operations in the 5th Fleet Area of Responsibility (USS Theodore Roosevelt has since gone back to its homeport of Norfolk, Virginia). The carrier Strike Group USS Ronald Reagan is now in the northern Arabian Sea.

While the war in Iraq goes on, the CIA’s paramilitary teams, the US Army Special Forces, Navy Seals and the US Air Force’s air commandos are all busy in Afghanistan. America’s 173rd Airborne Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, 86th Combat Support Hospital, 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit and 101st Combat Aviation Brigade are all fighting the emboldened Taliban.

To be certain, the Russian Federation, the largest country in the world that covers one-eighth of the world’s land area, has been in hibernation since it splintered into Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. Russia’s 20-year hibernation made America the lone hegemonic global power.

Over those 20 years, here’s what America did to Russia: Three Soviet Baltic republics of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania were inducted into NATO. Slovenia, Slovakia, Bulgaria, and Romania were also brought into NATO. In 1994, the former Soviet state of Georgia was coaxed into joining the NATO-run ‘Partnership for Peace’. Israeili trainers, along with a hundred U.S. ‘military advisers’, began training the Georgian military. In 2003, the CIA displaced President Eduard Shevardnadze (in what is refered to as the ‘Rose Revolution’). In 2004, the CIA financed the Orange Revolution in Ukraine. In 2008, at the Bucharest Summit, Georgia was invited to join NATO. At the Caucasus, a mere thousand miles from Moscow, America has been stitiching a pro-America belt comprising Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Nagorno-Karabakh. To top it all, the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan crude oil pipeline was built to capture Caspian Sea’s oil wealth away from Russian influence. Imagine; eight of the fifteen former Soviet states are now part of NATO.

On 8 August 2008, the carnivoran Russian bear came out of its 20-year hibernation. Ten thousand Russian troops, tanks, armoured personnel carriers, towed artillery, truck-mounted rocket launchers of the 58th Army, 76th Air Assault Division, 98th Airborne Division, Russian Air Force’s Sukhoi all-weather Su-24s, 25s, 27s, Tupolev Tu-22 supersonic bombers and the Russian Black Sea Fleet invaded Georgia in a lightning, efficiently executed campaign (Georgian army, navy and air force were completely destroyed).

The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan crude oil pipeline is on fire. America, pinned down in Iraq and Afghanistan, is left with little to challenge a resurging Russia. The reality of a powerful, assertive Russia is dawning on Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. The American foreign policy establishment has been caught napping.

On September 1, Dmitry Medvedev, the 43-year old President of Russia, was at his presidential residence in the Black Sea resort of Sochi. President Medvedev told Russian television Channel One that “Russia will never yield to the world order where all decisions are taken by the United States exclusively; the world should be multipolar.”

What’s next? Slovenia, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Romania or the Black Sea? On August 26, the destroyer USS McFaul, carrying humanitarian aid supplies, docked at the Georgian Black Sea port of Poti. With most of their boots in Iraq and Afghanistan, all that American destroyers can now do is deliver humanitarian aid. Imagine; in another direct blow to America’s foreign policy establishment, Azerbaijan has now shipped 200,000 barrels of oil to Iran.

With $600 billion in reserves, Russia is ‘resurging’ and America is left with little to block that resurgence. On September 10, two Tupolev Tu-160s, Russia’s supresonic, nucclear-capable, variable-geometry heavy bombers, landed in Venezuela, a mere thousand miles from Florida. In November, elements of Russia’s Northern Fleet are going to be in the Carribean. The American foreign policy establishment has been caught sleeping!

Postscript: Pakistan’s foreign policy establishment was also shocked when the Indian army announced the completion of a road by virtue of which Afghanistan’s Nimroz province now stands connected to the Iranian free-trade port of Charbahar. Landlocked Afghanistan will no longer be dependent on Pakistan.

The writer is an Islamabad-based freelance columnist. Email:

Source: The News, 14/9/2008

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