Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Hey, whaddyaknow, Smart Diplomacy actually works. Well, that, plus an additional $42.6 million, according to AP.
"The United States made a deal Tuesday allowing it to continue using a Central Asian air base that is crucial to the U.S. mission in Afghanistan, after agreeing to triple the rent it pays.Maybe there are other reset buttons available to soothe Russia's feelings.
"The former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan in February had ordered the U.S. forces out, a decision some observers said may have been made under pressure from Russia, which is strongly opposed to a U.S. military presence so close to its borders. Russia also has a base in Kyrgyzstan.
"Under the new deal, the U.S. will pay $60 million in annual rent, up from the current $17.4 million for use of the Manas air base, which is an increasingly important operations hub as the U.S.-led coalition ramps up its campaign against Taliban and al-Qaida fighters in Afghanistan."
I am not sure how Smart you have to be to simply open up your checkbook, but, in any case, it is good to have this base re-established.
'Smart' diplomacy has nothing to do with it. This was Kyrgyzstan's intent all along. They deliberately drug their feet on this process (at one point delaying a Senate vote on the matter because they claimed that the electricity had gone out at the capitol; hah!) specifically to goad the US into this kind of negotiation and concession.
Maybe my memory leads me astray, but I think I recall that the February announcement was preceded by a pledge of a billion or two $, aid from Russia. It was seen at the time as something of a strategically successful bribe.
Now is seems we pay more, we may be limited to logistics vs. combat flights, but what happened to all that Russian loot?
May the value of the rubble is not so high.
I can't tell if that's a good deal or not. What's the going rate for a military airbase rental near a theater of operations? I don't suppose the underlying pricing mechanism is so much different from residential housing: location, location, location.
The rent may NOT actually have been tripled. The additional cost, at least some of them, may go to pay for lobbyists and influence in the US. Look at ALL the US Senators, Boxer, Dodd,, etc. who may be facing problems who need additional cash. Doesn't Boxer's husband, Biden's son and Dodd's wife take cash from clients?
"I can't tell if that's a good deal or not. What's the going rate for a military airbase rental near a theater of operations?"
(Don't forget - a landlocked country - very extended and hazardous supply lines.)
The whole thing may have been orchestrated by the Russians from the start. Before assessing how smart the diplomacy is I would wait to see what will Obama give the Russians in the disarmament negotiations, especially if he sacrifices the European missile defense shield.