Saturday, December 03, 2011

Founding Fathers Quote

Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect every one who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are inevitably ruined.

Patrick Henry

Ron Paul Polls a Strong Second in Des Moines Register Survey

Ron Paul Polls a Strong Second in Des Moines Register Survey

Wisconsin, Big Ten Champions

Congratulations to the Badgers for winning the first Big Ten championship game, 42-39.  As usual, Wisconsin went conservative at the end of the game and it almost cost them the championship.  Luckily, a penalty, by Michigan State, gave victory to Wisconsin.  There will be no national championship in Wisconsin's future until coach Bret Bielema learns to play to win instead of always falling back on so-called safe running plays.  The game has evolved, you have to have a passing option and the spine to make the call. 

A Slow Day In The Northwoods

What a grey and disgusting day. I am tired of having to keep my lights on all day, just to see. This is our first winter in the Northwoods. So far, there has been only light dustings of snow, that never last long.  

Today is a milestone; our kids received a new book order last week and today is the first day that our four-year-old daughter has not made me read her cowgirl book at least three times.  Fingers are crossed, as the night is still young.

SR and the kids spent the evening decorating the new Christmas tree and making homemade decorations. Due to a little too much fried chicken and a cranky 15 month-old, I was unfortunately limited to the living room. SR surprised me and filled the tree with my collector Scifi and sports ornaments. Once the shock of them being out of their boxes subsided, I was forced to admit that it did look good.

The first Big Ten championship game is about to start, go Badgers. The SEC championship game is disgusting me. Hopefully, Alabama gets another opportunity to put LSU in their place, go Tide!

Take time to enjoy your families and have a great weekend y'all.

Cain suspends campaign, vows to work from outside the race -

Cain suspends campaign, vows to work from outside the race -

7 Billion People: Everybody Relax!

McCrory questions timing of probe | & The Charlotte Observer Newspaper

McCrory questions timing of probe & The Charlotte Observer Newspaper

Friday, December 02, 2011

In Iowa, the "Ron Paul Factor" Could Loom Large

In Iowa, the "Ron Paul Factor" Could Loom Large

Ron Paul On CNN

h/t: The Daily Paul

Remy: Why They Fought

As a veteran, I am disgusted at how accurate this song is. How many Americans have bled for this republic only to have our leaders turn it into a prison?

Press Release: C4L Stands With Sen. Rand Paul

Rand Paul Blocks Attempt to Sneak Through Dangerous Amendment
Campaign for Liberty to continue standing with freshman senator to defend the Constitution.
December 2, 2011 703-865-7162

SPRINGFIELD, Virginia – On Thursday night, Senator Rand Paul blocked passage of an amendment that would have allowed the government to indefinitely detain American citizens until Congress declares the War on Terror to be over. These Americans would be detained even if they were tried and found not guilty.
An attempt was made to pass Amendment No. 1274 to the National Defense Authorization Act (S. 1867) by voice vote, but Senator Paul’s objection and request for a roll call vote ultimately led to the bill’s defeat by a final vote of 41-59.
“Campaign for Liberty is proud to stand with Rand Paul as he continues to fight for our liberties against the federal government’s lust to increase its police state powers,” said Matt Hawes, Vice President of Campaign for Liberty.  [read more]

Senate Republicans to Force Approval of Keystone Pipeline

Senate Republicans to Force Approval of Keystone Pipeline

Dark Times For the Eurozone - HUMAN EVENTS

Dark Times For the Eurozone - HUMAN EVENTS

GOA Alert: Rep. Walsh to UN: No Gun Control Treaties

Rep. Walsh to UN: No Gun Control Treaties

Friday, 02 December 2011 14:14   

Representative Joe Walsh (R-IL) has drafted a bill that would block U.S. funding to the United Nations if it seeks to implement gun control measures affecting U.S. citizens.

Despite victories by gun owners in elections and legislative battles throughout the country in recent years, on the international front gun control is moving quickly.

Most significantly, in 2012 the UN plans to release a final draft of the Arms Trade Treaty—a treaty that will have severe consequences for American gun owners.

Meetings are held behind close doors, but from information gathered by GOA we believe that the ATT will, at the very least, require gun owner registration and microstamping of ammunition.

The ATT will define manufacturing so broadly that any gun owner who adds an accessory such as a scope or changes a stock on a firearm would be required to obtain a manufacturing license.

It would also likely include a ban on many semi-automatic firearms (like the Clinton gun ban) and demand the mandatory destruction of surplus ammo and confiscated firearms.

President Obama, not surprisingly, welcomes the treaty. He knows that he is unlikely to get such radical proposals through the Congress, so the UN provides him a backdoor way to enact gun control.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is also on board and began pushing for the treaty as soon as she was confirmed in her position. “The United States is prepared to work hard for a strong international standard in this area,” she said.

Since treaties must be ratified by the Senate, GOA is working continually to buck up weak-kneed Senators who might be pressured to ratify the treaty.

But the House, which controls the nations’ purse strings, can also play a role in killing the ATT (or any other anti-gun treaty, for that matter).

Rep. Joe Walsh’s legislation will cut U.S. funding to the UN if the international body imposes any restrictions on Americans’ gun rights.

This is a huge deal, because without the contributions of the United States, the UN would be crippled financially. According to government reports, U.S. taxpayers foot the bill for 22 percent of the UN’s regular budget and 27 percent of its “peacekeeping” budget.

American gun owners, in other words, are funding the organization that wants to do away with the Second Amendment!

Rep. Walsh is putting the UN on notice: back off our gun rights.

Entitled the “The Second Amendment Protection Act of 2011,” Rep. Walsh is now seeking original cosponsors to join him in the House. He plans to introduce the bill within the next week.

Rep. Walsh highlights for his House colleagues the necessity of his proposal, noting that:

•It is the constitutional power of Congress to determine United States foreign policy through the ratification of international treaties;

•U.S. Presidents, by signing on to treaties, have opened the door for international organizations to unilaterally regulate the lives of citizens of the United States;

•International and transnational organizations force their rules on people of the United States through conventions, multilateral agreements, and nonratified treaties, such as agreements that affect the private ownership of firearms by law-abiding citizens; and

•United States sovereignty is risked by domestic legal applicability of international treaties and executive agreements that have not been voted on and congressionally adopted through formal processes.

Let’s help Rep. Joe Walsh get as many cosponsors as possible. In the process, we’ll find out how many Representatives are willing to stand up to the behemoth United Nations in defense of the Second Amendment.

Please click here to send your Representative a prewritten message.

Rep. Issa examining ways to reorganize ATF -

Rep. Issa examining ways to reorganize ATF -

“I love George Washington. Except for his Foreign Policy.” – Tenth Amendment Center

“I love George Washington. Except for his Foreign Policy.” – Tenth Amendment Center

Governor Nikki Haley Tackles Bullying

Bullying is a serious issue that is often overlooked. I applaud Gov. Haley for talking about her own experiences with bullying and bringing much needed attention to the subject. As a parent of a child with autism, I have recently become aware just how hurtful bullying can be to a child.

Remy: Missing You - The Incandescent Light Bulb Song

Wisdom From Ron Paul

Just think of what Woodrow Wilson stood for: he stood for world government. He wanted an early United Nations, League of Nations. But it was the conservatives, Republicans, that stood up against him.

Ron Paul

Huge Republican Edge on Issues! Dick Morris TV: Lunch ALERT!

Founding Fathers Quote

A feeble executive implies a feeble execution of the government. A feeble execution is but another phrase for a bad execution; and a government ill executed, whatever may be its theory, must, in practice, be a bad government.

Joseph Story

Russia to build hulls for 2 Mistral-class warships

RIA NovostiRussia to build hulls for 2 Mistral-class warships         Russia to build hulls for 2 Mistral-class warships

20:39 02/12/2011 Russian defense officials previously said Russia would account for 80% of labor inputs in building the third and fourth warships.>>


I watched, in my opinion, the best Russian-made movie, ever.  The Admiral is a fascinating and exhilarating look at the life and times of Admiral Alexander Kolchak

Here is the Russian preview and, below it, a clip from the film with English subtitles.  I immediately purchased a copy and was completely satisfied.  If interested has 2 copies left, and no, I am not selling them and make no money from this review.

Catholic League News Release



December 2, 2011
Catholic League president Bill Donohue notices a glaring omission in today's New York Times:

I read with interest the front-page story in today's New York Times about the plight of a woman in Afghanistan who was raped and then ordered to marry her rapist. The reporter spoke about this outcome as a "cultural practice," showing "the power of cultural norms," reflecting an "Afghan custom."

All of this is accurate, but incomplete. As a sociologist, I noticed something missing: never once was there any mention that this "cultural practice" is rooted in Islam. Religion, of course, is the most defining element in any culture, and not to cite Islam—and particularly Shariah—is irresponsible. It would be like discussing culture in Ireland or Latin America without mentioning Catholicism.

They even have a Department for Prevention of Vice and Promotion of Virtue in Afghanistan which enforces Shariah laws. The New York Times deserves credit for publishing this story, but it discredits itself when it intentionally omits the root cause of the oppression of women in Afghanistan.

Contact our director of communications about Donohue’s remarks:
Jeff Field
Phone: 212-371-3191

STRATFOR Dispatch: Significance of Latvia's Russian Language Referendum

Media Tell People: Government Your Friend, Ron Paul Your Enemy by Thomas E. Woods, Jr.

Media Tell People: Government Your Friend, Ron Paul Your Enemy by Thomas E. Woods, Jr.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Appeals judge orders Tymoshenko to remain behind bars

The Ukraine needs to set Tymoshenko free.

RIA NovostiYulia TymoshenkoAppeals judge orders Tymoshenko to remain behind bars
23:42 01/12/2011 A court in Kiev rejected an appeal on Thursday from jailed former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko to be released and ordered her to serve out her term in prison, a RIA Novosti correspondent reports.>>

My Impact

Is the Fed Pursuing Our Interest or Banks’ Interests? - By Kevin D. Williamson - Exchequer - National Review Online

Is the Fed Pursuing Our Interest or Banks’ Interests? - By Kevin D. Williamson - Exchequer - National Review Online

Job Creation: How it Really Works and Why the Government Doesn't Understand It - Andy Puzder

A Deadly U.S. Attack on Pakistani Soil

A Deadly U.S. Attack on Pakistani Soil is republished with permission of STRATFOR.

By Nate Hughes

In the early hours of Nov. 26 on the Afghan-Pakistani border, what was almost certainly a flight of U.S. Army AH-64 Apache attack helicopters and an AC-130 gunship killed some two dozen Pakistani servicemen at two border outposts inside Pakistan. Details remain scarce, conflicting and disputed, but the incident was known to have taken place near the border of the Afghan provinces of Kunar and Nangarhar and the Mohmand agency of Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). The death toll inflicted by the United States against Pakistani servicemen is unprecedented, and while U.S. commanders and NATO leaders have expressed regret over the incident, the reaction from Pakistan has been severe.

Claims and Interests

The initial Pakistani narrative of the incident describes an unprovoked and aggressive attack on well-established outposts more than a mile inside Pakistani territory — outposts known to the Americans and ones that representatives of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) had visited in the past. The attack supposedly lasted for some two hours despite distressed communications from the outpost to the Pakistani military’s general headquarters in Rawalpindi.

A Deadly U.S. Attack on Pakistani Soil
(click here to enlarge image)

The United States was quick to acknowledge that Pakistani troops were probably killed by attack aircraft providing close air support to a joint U.S.-Afghan patrol near the Kunar border, and while U.S. Marine Gen. James Mattis, the head of U.S. Central Command, promised a high-level investigation, the United States and NATO seemed to be more interested in smoothing relations with Islamabad than endorsing or correcting initial reports about the specifics of the attack.

What has ensued has been a classic media storm of accusations, counteraccusations, theories and specifics provided by unnamed sources that all serve to obscure the truth as much as they clarify it. Meanwhile, no matter what actually happened, aggressive spin campaigns have been launched to shape perceptions of the incident for myriad interests. Given the longstanding tensions between Washington and Islamabad as well as a record of cross-border incidents, stakeholders will believe exactly what they want to believe about the Nov. 26 incident, and even an official investigation will have little bearing on their entrenched views.

The Framework

While statements and accusations have often referenced NATO and the ISAF, it is U.S. forces that operate in this part of the country, and this close to the border the unit involved was likely operating under the aegis of U.S. Forces-Afghanistan (the U.S. command in Afghanistan) rather than under the multinational ISAF. Indeed, many American allies have also expressed frustration over the incident, convinced that it undermines ISAF operations in Afghanistan.

Reports indicate that a U.S. special operations team (likely a platoon-sized element, but at least a 12-man detachment) accompanied by Afghan commandos (generally a seven-man squad accompanies a U.S. platoon, but 25- to 30-man platoons sometimes accompany 12-man U.S. teams) were involved in an engagement and called for close air support. It now seems clear that both sides opened fire at some point. At least one unidentified senior Pakistani defense official told The Washington Post that it had been the Pakistanis who fired first, opening up with mortars and machine guns after sending up an illumination round. However, most Pakistani sources continue to deny this.

Given that Washington has been trying to smooth over already tense relations with Islamabad, such an aggressive attack taking place without provocation seems unlikely. In any event, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) operated by the CIA essentially have free rein in Pakistani airspace over the border area and are often used for targeted assassinations, meaning that the involvement of attack helicopters rather than UAVs does lend credence to the close air support claim. (The principle of hot pursuit, which is understood and often exercised by U.S. patrols along the border, might also have been applied.)

The Border

The “border” between Afghanistan and Pakistan in this area is part of the Durand Line agreed upon between the Afghan monarch and the colonial authority of British India in 1893. Not only is the border poorly marked, it also divides extraordinarily rugged terrain and essentially bisects the Pashtun population. And from the British perspective, the agreement was intended to establish a broad buffer between British and Russian interests in Central Asia by establishing a line along the distant, outer frontier of British India. British priorities had little to do with the day-to-day realities of a fixed linear boundary, and to this day the specific border exists primarily on paper.

The border is characterized by a string of outposts — often little more than prepared fighting positions and some crude shelters that are difficult to distinguish between military, government or civilian structures — manned by the paramilitary Frontier Corps on the Pakistani side. These positions presumably are selected for their tactical value in monitoring and dominating the border, and the troops occupying those positions invariably know the general location of the border before them. Similarly, U.S. special operations teams are well trained and practiced in land navigation at night, regularly conduct operations in the area and are there to patrol that very border. Both sides know full well their general positions relative to the border.
A Deadly U.S. Attack on Pakistani Soil
A post-attack image of the Pakistani outpost involved in the Nov. 26 cross-border incident
The point is that, whatever the specifics of the Nov. 26 incident, it appears largely consistent with and governed by the underlying tactical realities of the border. A small Pakistani outpost that perceives a threatening, armed entity will take advantage of its position and heavier weaponry in engaging the force rather than let it slip any closer — and this will be more true the smaller and more isolated the garrison. Under fire, a U.S. interdiction patrol (as distinct from a reconnaissance patrol, for which breaking contact is proscribed if feasible) will move quickly to advantageous terrain dictated by the direction of fire and the immediate geography around it, regardless of the border. If the situation dictates, the patrol may engage in hot pursuit across the border after being attacked.

The border is a highway for insurgents (both those who use Pakistan as a sanctuary for their fight in Afghanistan and those who are doing the reverse), other militants and supplies. That’s why the border outposts are manned and U.S.-Afghan teams conduct patrols — to interdict both types of insurgents. But it also means that there are plenty of armed formations moving around at night, and from the perspective of both a Pakistani outpost and a U.S. patrol, none of them is friendly.

Close Air Support

Pakistani forces have regularly shelled targets on the Afghan side of the border, and on a number of occasions U.S. forces have killed Pakistani troops — in firefights, with artillery, with UAVs and with attack helicopters. Indeed, standard U.S. operating procedures allow Pakistani troops and militants alike to know the probable American response in a given tactical scenario — including what it takes to get close air support called in.

Any dismounted American foot patrol that takes fire from both mortars and heavy machine guns is going to call for whatever fire support it can get. And given the frequency of incidents and the rugged terrain near the border, special operations teams operating near the border are likely to have a flight of Apaches close by ready to provide that support.

The forward-looking infrared sensor mounted on the nose of the AH-64 Apache is capable of remarkable resolution — sufficient to make out not only adult individuals but the shapes of weapons they may be carrying. But the history of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is also rife with incidents where aircrews, acting on the information available to them (and with the context of being called in to support friendly forces under fire), engaged targets only later to find that the activity or weaponry had not been as it appeared — a reporter with a long, telephoto lens on a camera rather than a rocket launcher or children picking up pinecones instead of insurgents emplacing an improvised explosive device.

Particularly on the border, the pilot and gunner are making the same distinction Pakistani outposts and American patrols are likely to make in the area: Armed individuals and groups not known to be friendly are probably hostile. The position of friendly forces will be communicated by the air controller in contact with the aircrew and also generally by infrared strobes or other means. Though the air controller will indicate the immediate threat, any non-friendly position could quickly be judged hostile. Any unit firing or maneuvering with what appears to be weaponry may quickly be deemed hostile in the exigency of the moment and the uncertainty of the environment based on limited information. And while ISAF has tightened its rules of engagement and added additional oversight for close air support in Afghanistan in response to domestic outrage over collateral damage, there is still going to be an enormous difference between the restraint exercised in, say, Marjah, where a population-centered counterinsurgency campaign is actively under way, and an isolated special operations patrol near the Pakistani border in an area known to be frequented by militants.

The Big Picture

In a way, the Afghan-Pakistani border is a microcosm of the U.S.-Pakistani relationship. The U.S. patrols and the Pakistani outposts are there for entirely different and in some cases directly opposing reasons. The Pakistanis are spread thin in the FATA and are focusing their efforts on the Pakistani Taliban, which have their sights set on Islamabad. Not only are they less interested in confronting the Afghan Taliban as a matter of priority, but Pakistani national interest dictates maintaining a functional relationship with the Afghan Taliban as leverage in dealing with the United States and as a way to control Afghanistan as the United States and its allies begin to withdraw.

Hence, elements of the Pakistani military and the Inter-Services Intelligence directorate are actively engaged in supporting the Afghan Taliban and have in some cases come to see common cause with them — not only in supporting the Afghan Taliban but also in actively undermining U.S. efforts in Afghanistan and disrupting Pakistani cooperation with the United States. Indeed, the timing and magnitude of the Nov. 26 incident — which was entirely plausible under a number of scenarios — calls into question whether it may have been staged or intended to provoke the response it did. Some reports have indicated that the Taliban may have staged an initial attack intended to draw the Pakistani positions and the American patrol into a firefight with each other.

Whatever the case, factions that benefit from a greater division between Pakistan and the United States will be aided by the incident and subsequent public outcry — as will the Pakistani state, which is now holding its own cooperation hostage for better terms in its relationship with Washington.

Ultimately, however, there is a reason for the long, established history of cross-border incidents and skirmishes. The United States and Pakistan are playing very different games for very different ends on both sides of the border and in Afghanistan. They have different adversaries and are playing on different timetables. The alliance is one of necessity but hobbled by incompatibility, and near-term American imperatives in Afghanistan — lines of supply, political progress, counterterrorism efforts — clash directly with the long-term American interest in a strong Pakistani state able to manage its territory and keep its nuclear arsenal secure. The near-term demands Washington has made on Islamabad weaken the state and divide the country. Obviously, the Pakistani government intends to retain its strength and keep the country as unified as possible.

The reality is that as long as the political objectives that dictate U.S. and Pakistani military strategies and tactics are generally at odds, there will be tension and conflict. And as long as Pakistani and American forces are both patrolling a border that exists primarily on paper, they will be at odds. Tactically, this means armed groups with many divergent loyalties will be circling one another.

The Fallout

What actually happened early on Nov. 26 is increasingly irrelevant; it is merely a symptom of larger issues that remain unresolved, and the fallout has already taken shape. Pakistan is leveraging the incident for everything it can and is already demonstrating its displeasure (both for political leverage and to satisfy an enraged domestic populace) by doing the following:
  • Closing the crucial border crossings at Torkham near the Khyber Pass and Chaman to the south
  • Giving the CIA 15 days to vacate the Shamsi air base in Balochistan from which it conducts UAV operations (though Pakistani airspace reportedly remains open to such flights)
  • Reviewing its intelligence and military cooperation with the United States and NATO
  • Boycotting the upcoming Dec. 5 Bonn conference on Afghanistan, though there are some hints already that it may reconsider; it is difficult to imagine what a conference on Afghanistan without Pakistan might achieve, but Islamabad would face other risks in not attending such a conference.
The larger question is whether the calculus for an alliance of necessity between the United States and Pakistan still holds. As the American and allied withdrawal from Afghanistan accelerates, without a political understanding between Washington, Islamabad, Kabul and the Afghan Taliban, there is little prospect of American and Pakistani interests coming into any closer alignment. The United States and its allies are moving for the exits while the Pakistanis try to ensure optimal circumstances surrounding the withdrawal and at the same time ensure maximum leverage to manage whatever ends up being left behind. The two countries still have numerous incentives to continue cooperation, but all the ingredients for cross-border incidents and skirmishes — as well as the opportunity to stage, provoke and exploit those incidents and skirmishes — remain firmly in place.

Read more: A Deadly U.S. Attack on Pakistani Soil | STRATFOR

Race To Sixty! Senate picture brightens! Dick Morris TV: Lunch ALERT!

Sen. Rand Paul on Your World with Neil Cavuto

Mother Beaten By Son Over Kool-Aid, Police Say - Louisville News Story - WLKY Louisville

Mother Beaten By Son Over Kool-Aid, Police Say - Louisville News Story - WLKY Louisville

Sometimes Old Law is Good Law

Sometimes Old Law is Good Law

Gingrich's hand ‘always six inches from the self-destruct button’ -

Gingrich's hand ‘always six inches from the self-destruct button’ -

Israel Today magazine: Arabs use bribery to gain UN votes against Israel

Article courtesy of Israel Today magazine,

Thursday, December 01, 2011 | Ryan Jones

Arabs use bribery to gain UN votes against Israel

While there is little need to provide incentives for most nations to vote against Israel at the UN General Assembly, some Arab states are nevertheless bribing countries that traditionally side with the Jewish state in order to make passage of anti-Israel resolutions more one-sided.

That according to Johnson Toribiong, president of the Pacific island nation of Palau, who was in Israel for an official state visit last week.

Toribiong told Israel's Yediot Ahronot newspaper that he was recently offered $50 million by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to start voting against Israel at the UN.

"We told them: 'Forget it. We will not vote against Israel for anything in the world'," Toribiong said.

Toribiong was accompanied by Iolu Johnson Abil, president of Vanuatu, another Pacific island nation. Palau, Vanuatu, Micronesia, the Marshall Islands and a number of other Pacific micro nations are firm supporters of Israel at the UN as result of their strong Christian faith.

That nations are trying to buy UN General Assembly votes against other nations speaks loudly about the state of affairs at the world body. What speaks even louder is that these allegations of severe impropriety are being completely ignored by the UN and the international community.

And it's not the first time.

When the Solomon Islands, another Pacific island nation, suddenly began voting against Israel in 2009, many wondered why. Like other Christian island nations, the Solomon Islands had always backed the Jewish state. Later it was discovered that Iran's foreign ministry had bribed the impoverished Solomon Islands with a $200,000 check and technological aid.

Ron Paul Interview With CNBC On Today's World Wide Quantitative Easing

h/t: The Daily Paul

Pakistan, Russia and the Threat to the Afghan War

Pakistan, Russia and the Threat to the Afghan War is republished with permission of STRATFOR.

By George Friedman

Days after the Pakistanis closed their borders to the passage of fuel and supplies for the NATO-led war effort in Afghanistan, for very different reasons the Russians threatened to close the alternative Russia-controlled Northern Distribution Network (NDN). The dual threats are significant even if they don’t materialize. If both routes are cut, supplying Western forces operating in Afghanistan becomes impossible. Simply raising the possibility of cutting supply lines forces NATO and the United States to recalculate their position in Afghanistan.

The possibility of insufficient lines of supply puts NATO’s current course in Afghanistan in even more jeopardy. It also could make Western troops more vulnerable by possibly requiring significant alterations to operations in a supply-constrained scenario. While the supply lines in Pakistan most likely will reopen eventually and the NDN likely will remain open, the gap between likely and certain is vast.

The Pakistani Outpost Attack

The Pakistani decision to close the border crossings at Torkham near the Khyber Pass and Chaman followed a U.S. attack on a Pakistani position inside Pakistan’s tribal areas near the Afghan border that killed some two-dozen Pakistani soldiers. The Pakistanis have been increasingly opposed to U.S. operations inside Pakistani territory. This most recent incident took an unprecedented toll, and triggered an extreme response. The precise circumstances of the attack are unclear, with details few, contradictory and disputed. The Pakistanis have insisted it was an unprovoked attack and a violation of their sovereign territory. In response, Islamabad closed the border to NATO; ordered the United States out of Shamsi air base in Balochistan, used by the CIA; and is reviewing military and intelligence cooperation with the United States and NATO.

The proximate reason for the reaction is obvious; the ultimate reason for the suspension also is relatively simple. The Pakistani government believes NATO, and the United States in particular, will fail to bring the war in Afghanistan to a successful conclusion. It follows that the United States and other NATO countries at some point will withdraw.

Some in Afghanistan have claimed that the United States has been defeated, but that is not the case. The United States may have failed to win the war, but it has not been defeated in the sense of being compelled to leave by superior force. It could remain there indefinitely, particular as the American public is not overly hostile to the war and is not generating substantial pressure to end operations. Nevertheless, if the war cannot be brought to some sort of conclusion, at some point Washington’s calculations or public pressure, or both, will shift and the United States and its allies will leave Afghanistan.

Given that eventual outcome, Pakistan must prepare to deal with the consequences. It has no qualms about the Taliban running Afghanistan and it certainly does not intend to continue to prosecute the United States’ war against the Taliban once its forces depart. To do so would intensify Taliban attacks on the Pakistani state, and could trigger an even more intense civil war in Pakistan. The Pakistanis have no interest in such an outcome even were the United States to remain in Afghanistan forever. Instead, given that a U.S. victory is implausible and its withdrawal inevitable and that Pakistan’s western border is with Afghanistan, Islamabad will have to live with — and possibly manage — the consequences of the re-emergence of a Taliban-dominated government.

Under these circumstances, it makes little sense for Pakistan to collaborate excessively with the United States, as this increases Pakistan’s domestic dangers and imperils its relationship with the Taliban. Pakistan was prepared to cooperate with the United States and NATO while the United States was in an aggressive and unpredictable phase. The Pakistanis could not risk more aggressive U.S. attacks on Pakistani territory at that point, and feared a U.S.-Indian entente. But the United States, while not leaving Afghanistan, has lost its appetite for a wider war and lacks the resources for one. It is therefore in Pakistan’s interest to reduce its collaboration with the United States in preparation for what it sees as the inevitable outcome. This will strengthen Pakistan’s relations with the Afghan Taliban and minimize the threat of internal Pakistani conflict.

Despite apologies by U.S. and NATO commanders, the Nov. 26 incident provided the Pakistanis the opportunity — and in their mind the necessity — of an exceptional response. The suspension of the supply line without any commitment to reopening it and the closure of the U.S. air base from which unmanned aerial vehicle operations were carried out (though Pakistani airspace reportedly remains open to operations) was useful to Pakistan. It allowed Islamabad to reposition itself as hostile to the United States because of American actions. It also allowed Islamabad to appear less pro-American, a powerful domestic political issue.

Pakistan has closed supply lines as a punitive measure before. Torkham was closed for 10 straight days in October 2010 in response to a U.S. airstrike that killed several Pakistani soldiers, and trucks at the southern Chaman crossing were “administratively delayed,” according to the Pakistanis. This time, however, Pakistan is signaling that matters are more serious. Uncertainty over these supply lines is what drove the United States to expend considerable political capital to arrange the alternative NDN.

Pakistan, Russia and the Threat to the Afghan War
(click here to enlarge image)

The NDN Alternative and BMD

This alternative depends on Russia. It transits Russian territory and airspace and much of the former Soviet sphere, stretching as far as the Baltic Sea — at great additional expense compared to the Pakistani supply route. This alternative is viable, as it would allow sufficient supplies to flow to support NATO operations. Indeed, over recent months it has become the primary line of supply, and reliance upon it is set to expand. At present, 48 percent of NATO supplies still go through Pakistan; 52 percent of NATO supplies come through NDN (non-lethal); 60 percent of all fuel comes through the NDN; and by the end of the year, the objective is for 75 percent of all non-lethal supplies to transit the NDN.

Separating the United States yields a different breakdown: Only 30 percent of U.S. supplies traverse Pakistan; 30 percent of U.S. supplies come in by air (some of it linked to the Karakoram-Torkham route, probably including the bulk of lethal weapons); and 40 percent of U.S. supplies come in from the NDN land route.

Therefore, Dmitri Rogozin’s threat that Russia might suspend these supply lines threatens the viability of all Western operations in Afghanistan. Rogozin, the Russian envoy to NATO, has been known to make extreme statements. But when he makes those statements, he makes them with the full knowledge and authorization of the Russian leadership. Though he is used to making statements that the leadership might want to back away from, it is not unusual for him to signal new directions in Russian policy. This means the U.S. and NATO militaries responsible for sustaining operations in Afghanistan cannot afford to dismiss the threat. No matter how small the probability, it places more than 100,000 U.S. and allied troops in a vulnerable position.

For the Russians, the issue is the development and deployment of U.S. ballistic missile defenses in Europe. The Russians oppose the deployment, arguing it represents a threat to the Russian nuclear deterrent and therefore threatens the nuclear balance. This was certainly the reason the Soviets opposed the initial Strategic Defense Initiative in the 1980s. Carrying it forward to the 2010s, however, and the reasoning appears faulty. First, there is no nuclear balance at the moment, as there is no political foundation for nuclear war. Second, the U.S.-European BMD scheme is not designed to stop a massive launch of nuclear missiles such as the Russians could execute, but only the threat posed by a very small number of missiles such as might be launched from Iran. Finally, it is not clear that the system would work very well, though it has certainly proven far more capable than the turn-of-the-century predecessor systems.

Nevertheless, the Russians vehemently opposed the system, threatening to deploy Iskander short-range ballistic missiles and even tactical nuclear weapons in Kaliningrad and other locations in response. The Russian concern is obviously real, but it is difficult to believe it is the nuclear balance they are concerned about. Rather, it is the geopolitical implications of placing BMD infrastructure in Central Europe.

Opposition to a Second Containment

Elements of the weapons, particularly radars and interceptors, are being deployed around the periphery of Russia — in Poland, Romania, Turkey and Israel. From the Russian point of view, the deployment of radars and other systems is a precursor to the deployment of other military capabilities. They are extremely valuable installations that must be protected. Troops therefore will be deployed along with air defenses, and so on. In other words, the deployment of the BMD infrastructure itself may have no practical impact on the Russians, but the indirect consequences would be to set the stage for more expansive military deployments. The Russians must assume this could entail a return to containment, the principle employed by the United States during the Cold War to limit Soviet power.

The Russians see the inclusion of other military forces at the locations of the interceptor and radar deployment as creating a belt of nations designed to contain Russia. Given the uncertain future of Europe and the increasing relative power of Russia in the region, the United States has an interest in making certain any disruption in Europe doesn’t give the Russians opportunities to extend their political influence. While the extent to which American planners chose the sites with the containment of Russia in mind isn’t clear, from the Russian point of view the motive doesn’t matter. Planning is done based on capability, not intent. Whatever the U.S. intent, the move opens the door for containment if and when U.S. policy planners notice the opportunity.

The Russians have threatened actions for years, and in the past few weeks they have become increasingly vocal on the subject of BMD and on threats. Rogozin obviously was ordered to seize on the vulnerability created by the Pakistani move and introduced the now-indispensible NDN as a point where the Russians could bring pressure, knowing it is the one move the United States cannot tolerate at the moment. Whether they intend to shut down the supply line is questionable. Doing so would cause a huge breach with the United States, and to this point the Russians have been relatively cautious in challenging fundamental U.S. interests. Moreover, the Russians are worried about any instability in Afghanistan that might threaten their sphere of influence in Central Asia. However, the Russians are serious about not permitting a new containment line to be created, and therefore may be shifting their own calculations.

It is a rule of war that secure strategic supply lines are the basis of warfare. If you cannot be certain of supplying your troops, it is necessary to redeploy to more favorable positions. The loss of supply lines at some point creates a vulnerability that in military history leads to the annihilation of forces. It is something that can be risked when major strategic interests require it, but it is a dangerous maneuver. The Russians are raising the possibility that U.S. forces could be isolated in Afghanistan. Supply lines into the landlocked country never have been under U.S. or NATO control. All supplies must come in through third countries (less than a third of American supplies come by air, and those mostly through Russian airspace), and their willingness to permit transit is the foundation of U.S. strategy.

The United States and NATO have been exposed as waging a war that depended on the willingness of first Pakistan and now increasingly Russia to permit the movement of supplies through their respective territories. Were they both to suspend that privilege, the United States would face the choice of going to war to seize supply lines — something well beyond U.S. conventional capacity at this time — or to concede the war. Anytime a force depends on the cooperation of parties not under its control to sustain its force, it is in danger.

The issue is not whether the threats are carried out. The issue is whether the strategic interest the United States has in Afghanistan justifies the risk that the Russians may not be bluffing and the Pakistanis will become even less reliable in allowing passage. In the event of strategic necessity, such risks can be taken. But the lower the strategic necessity, the less risk is tolerable. This does not change the strategic reality in Afghanistan. It simply makes that reality much clearer and the threats to that reality more serious. Washington, of course, hopes the Pakistanis will reconsider and that the Russians are simply blowing off steam. Hope, however, is not a strategy.

Read more: Pakistan, Russia and the Threat to the Afghan War | STRATFOR

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STRATFOR Dispatch: Russia's Upcoming Parliamentary Elections

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

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Feast Day of Saint Andrew

Beginning on St. Andrew the Apostle's feast day, November 30, the following beautiful prayer is traditionally recited fifteen times a day until Christmas. This is a very meditative prayer that helps us increase our awareness of the real focus of Christmas and helps us prepare ourselves spiritually for His coming.

Hail and blessed be the hour and moment In which the Son of God was born Of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in the piercing cold. In that hour vouchsafe, I beseech Thee, O my God, to hear my prayer and grant my desires,
[here mention your request]

through the merits of Our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of His blessed Mother. Amen.

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