Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Carter Doctrine, Polestar of U.S. Hegemony, is Disintegrating

The reverse side of the neoliberal coin is neoconservatism. Both neoliberalism and neoconservatism got their start in the early 1970s, and by the time of the Carter presidency they had locked in as an essential part of the U.S. body politic.

A neoconservative hallmark is the Carter Doctrine. The Carter Doctrine states that the U.S. will unilaterally use military force to protect its interests in the Persian Gulf.

Though written by Carter's National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinki, a famous practitioner of realpolitik, it has been the true north of every Democratic and Republican administration for the last 35 years.

The Carter Doctrine was formulated in response to the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan, purportedly to counter Soviet hegemony in the region.

Well, we've come full circle (Neil MacFarquhar, "Russian Pilots Launch First Airstrikes in Syria, Officials Say").

The United States failed experiment in Afghanistan is approaching a flatline. Kunduz, the city, finally fell to the Taliban on Monday (Joseph Goldstein and Mujib Mashal, "Taliban Fighters Capture Kunduz City as Afghan Forces Retreat"). But the surrounding province of Kunduz has been under the control of the Taliban for most of the year. So the city falling should come as no surprise.

The story developing is that the Taliban victory in Kunduz seems to have been well plotted. The Afghan government, guided by it U.S. minders, have not been able to retake the city because of Taliban offensives in adjoining provinces. This is from Joseph Goldstein and Mujib Mashal, "Afghan Crisis Grows as Push to Retake Kunduz From Taliban Fails":
After more than a day of relative silence as the situation worsened around Kunduz, the American military showed the first signs of increased involvement in what the Pentagon called “a setback,” conducting at least two airstrikes, and reportedly more as attacks continued at the airport late Tuesday.

Beyond the Taliban’s gains in Kunduz, there was evidence that the insurgents were also pushing a broader offensive in northern Afghanistan, officials said. One particular point of concern was Takhar Province, just east of Kunduz, where the insurgents were said to be heavily assaulting military checkpoints and government facilities in several districts over the past two days.
And this from a breaking story this morning (Joseph Goldstein, "U.S. Strikes Taliban-Held Land Near Kunduz Airport as Afghan Crisis Deepens"):
KABUL, Afghanistan — American warplanes bombarded Taliban-held territory around the Kunduz airport overnight, and Afghan officials said American Special Forces were rushed toward the fighting. But by Wednesday morning, the crisis in northern Afghanistan had deepened, as the Taliban continued to surge outward from Kunduz, the major city that the militants captured on Monday. 
The militants claimed critical stretches of highway and continued to threaten the area around the airport, where hundreds of Afghan soldiers and civilians have been holed up since the city fell
Over the past three days, the Taliban have achieved what appears to be their largest military victory in a war that has gone on for more than a decade. Not only have insurgent forces captured a city of about 300,000 people — the first urban center the Taliban has held since 2001but as the reeling Afghan government struggles to respond, it has become clear that not only Kunduz but a large chunk of Afghanistan’s north is at stake.
In Baghlan Province south of Kunduz, Afghan reinforcements on their way to the city have been delayed or stopped altogether amid Taliban ambushes along the main highway. It appeared on Wednesday that before the Afghan government could launch a significant counteroffensive in Kunduz, it would first need to reclaim some of Baghlan.
Reinforcements in large numbers “will not be able to reach Kunduz without a big fight,” said Ted Callahan, a Western security adviser based in northeastern Afghanistan.
Abdul Shaker Urfani, a member of a community council in a northern part of Baghlan, said that more than 1,000 Afghan soldiers and police officers were stuck in the province. They were trying to reach Kunduz, “but they can’t break the Taliban resistance,” Mr. Urfani said.
So much for Obama's ballyhooed "end of U.S. combat operations" in Afghanistan. With superior Taliban planning -- quite a feather in the embattled Mullah Akhtar Mansour's turban -- it appears the north has been lost to the government of Ashraf Ghani, which today marks its one-year anniversary.

Obama has been a profound failure. Back in the heady days following his first landslide election, when I still believed in the illusion that he was a politician who was going to transform the system, in the back of my mind was the shadow that what we had here was another Jimmy Carter.

As it turns out that doubt was indeed prescient. Obama is a two-term Jimmy Carter who will usher in a Trump instead of a Reagan, at the same time as the temple of U.S. unipolar hegemony (i.e., the Carter Doctrine) comes crashing down.

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