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America Without A Strategy
Central Asian Officials Say They’re Worried About Taliban’s Spread

Despite failing to take Kunduz last week, the Taliban is advancing across Afghanistan, seemingly undeterred by U.S.-trained forces. Although a Russian return to Afghanistan seems unlikely, Central Asian officials have been making statements that could eventually justify Kremlin involvement. The Financial Times reports on the words of Kyrgyzstan’s prime minister, who claims his country is fortifying its borders, and Tajikistan’s president, who reportedly has expressed concerns to Putin about the skirmishes along his country’s borders. Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan are part of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, the members of which Moscow promises to protect. Russia could use that relationship to justify attacks against the Taliban.

Nor are these the only officials mentioned in the story: Afghanistan’s vice-president Abdul Rashid Dostum went to Russia and Grozny, “where he met Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov. Mr Kadyrov wrote on his Instagram account that Kabul needed help from Russia — ‘as in Syria’ — to prevent Isis establishing a foothold…”

Just about the last thing the White House needs is Putin sending fighter jets to Afghanistan. Of course, Russia would have a tough time affording another war effort and, for all we know, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan are simply complaining about the Taliban as part of a Moscow-coordinated effort to make NATO look bad.

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter says NATO is considering adjusting its Afghanistan withdrawal timeline, but the White House has not announced new plans. Ultimately, whether the Taliban truly threatens other countries or not, President Obama’s failure to stabilize Afghanistan gives a nice boost to the America-as-diminished-world-power narrative.

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  • Greg Olsen

    Boosting the America-as-diminished-world-power narrative is precisely what the administration wants. This administration would prefer to pursue a policy of non-involvement, as opposed to a true isolationist policy. They president is committed to certain foreign affairs crises that have the potential for an existential threat to the U.S. homeland and core economic interests, like the nuclear deal with Iran, maintaining troops in Korea, and freedom of navigation in the conflict with China. But he is dedicated to drawing down forces in the Middle East and letting the sectarian war run its course.

    • MartyH

      Except that they have not pursued a policy of non-involvement in the Middle East. The Administration helped get rid of Mubarak without a succession strategy, resulting in turmoil, protests, and a military coup; our air support helped topple Qadaffi, leading to a civil was that is ongoing. If the administration truly were pursuing non-involvement, President Obama would not have declared a red line in Syria that Assad blew right by. And even though it is not in the Middle East, we are still in Afghanistan for no apparent reason. There is neither coherence nor consistency in the President’s actions. it’s almost like he is guided by a childish, simplistic philosophy along the lines of “Don’t do stupid stuff.” Oh, wait, that actually is Wet Wing’s lodestone!

  • Jim__L

    So… are we sure Putin isn’t playing both ends against the middle and supporting ISIS as the ultimate spoiler in the Middle East?

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