U.S. Losing Foothold

From the November 2005 Trumpet Print Edition

Situated a stone’s throw from some of the world’s most roguish nations, Central Asia possesses unique strategic value. This mountainous territory, nestled close to Russia, China, Afghanistan and Iran, has played an important role in America’s military ventures in the Middle East and Asia, thanks to U.S. military bases there.

But not everyone is pleased with the U.S. military presence and influence in the soft underbelly of Russia and China. Recent efforts aim to oust America from the region.

Meeting in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, in early July, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (sco), which includes four Central Asian nations (Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan), met with the presidents of Russia and China to discuss how to clean up America’s footprints in the region.

A report from intelligence firm Stratfor detailed the importance of the conference. “With the jihadist war declining in importance, the United States has returned to its more traditional geopolitical concerns of restraining Russia and China,” it said. “In doing so, Washington is more aggressively seeking regime change in Central Asia as well. This directly pressures not only the Central Asian governments, but also … Russia’s southern flank and China’s western flank …. Furthermore, with the United States already pushing hard against Russia and China—and Central Asia as well—the sco members’ governments undoubtedly recognize that they must act quickly to collectively bolster their regional positions if they are to block the United States, which is another reason for action at the July summit” (June 28, emphasis ours).

Renowned for their anti-American sentiment, Russia and China exploited the sco conference to stir up resentment toward America among the nations of Central Asia. And it worked.

Within two weeks of the July conference, both Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan called for the eviction of the U.S. bases presently operating within their nations. While Kyrgyzstan altered its decision and allowed the U.S. to remain in the nation for a short while longer, thanks to a speedy “repair mission” by U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Kyrgyz leaders made it clear that the U.S. military has no long-term future in the country.

Uzbekistan wasn’t so amiable. “Uzbekistan’s Foreign Ministry notified the U.S. Embassy in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, that U.S. forces would be evicted from the Karshi-Khanabad air base, the only U.S. military facility in the country …. The eviction notice gives the United States 180 days to completely vacate the base” (ibid., July 30).

America’s presence in Moscow’s and Beijing’s backyard has gone a long way in keeping these two nations in check—even curbing their efforts to dominate the surrounding regions (not to mention helping to facilitate America’s war in Afghanistan and its fight against terror). The eviction of America from Central Asia will constitute a severe geopolitical defeat for the U.S.

“The picture, then, remains gloomy for the United States in Central Asia. … With the United States on one side, Russia and China on the other, and the Central Asian states in the middle, a chess match has begun to determine who will dominate the region” (ibid., July 26).

Continue to watch for alliances to form, specifically intended to marginalize America’s global influence. Dangerous anti-American sentiment pervades international politics as never before. As the anti-America wave rolls across the globe, the U.S. finds itself dangerously short of allies while simultaneously getting embroiled in an increasing number of controversies and wars. Its military will not be able to stand such pressure much longer.