Pakistan refuses US military bases

Before our eyes, three almost epochal events are taking place at once
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print 2 6 2021
 

"Here is not for you," Pakistani Defence Minister Ahmed Mukhtar told the Americans. Of course, officially, his words sounded a little different, but the essence was exactly this: "There will be no more flights of American aircraft from this air force base. If any aircraft will take off from it, it will be only Pakistani ones."

With the final decision to withdraw the American expeditionary force from Afghanistan, Washington found itself in a difficult position. America formally thinks of itself as a world hegemon, but there is nowhere to relocate its contingent except at home. And it's not that it's particularly large, something like 8,700 soldiers and officers.

If so desired, they can be easily dragged out to Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the Arab Emirates, Oman, Saudi Arabia and Jordan. At the very least, they can be transferred to the island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. But anyone who is familiar with geography understands that keeping them there is like immediately returning them to their native penates.

The Americans can leave Afghanistan, but to return to it even for individual raid operations is already impossible to them. Iran for sure will not let the US military to pass through its territory. Over the years, Washington has damaged relations with it too much. Theoretically, it would be possible to try to settle in the former Soviet republics of Central Asia, and it would cost "Uncle Sam" quite reasonable money.

But there, a fundamentally unsolvable problem with logistics will immediately arise. Every nut, every new battery, napkin or diaper would have to be transported there, literally "across two seas" and three countries. With the constant risk of the “oxygen being cut off" either by Turkey or Russia in Azerbaijan, the territory or airspace of which the United States cannot bypass with all their desire.

And so it turned out that Pakistan remained a country of "last hope". Especially because at the stage of the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 the Americans actively used the Pakistani Shamsi air base, located in Balochistan, 30 kilometres from the Afghan border.

But in 2006, for various reasons, they left it, as well as two others, leaving there only the infrastructure for operating CIA field teams. But by 2011, the latter had definitely broken up with the locals, and in December they finally returned Shamsi to the control of the Pakistani military.

And in 2017, President Trump almost openly accused Islamabad of supporting terrorism and reprehensible behaviour in the region. At that time, it seemed to the American authorities that America did not need anyone in the world. If someone wants to be friends, they must pay, yield and bend.

Especially a certain Pakistan, which for more than seven years has been demonstrating rapprochement with America's main geopolitical opponent - China. It came to the cancellation, at the initiative of Islamabad, of the planned and already announced in the media visit of a representative of the State Department.

The final nail in the proverbial coffin lid was a change in American priorities, from granting Pakistan a particularly friendly status when America needed to fight Shuravi in Afghanistan in the 80s, to a fundamental transition to friendship with its main geopolitical opponent – India, to create a counterweight to China after 2010-2012.

Is it any wonder that "your people did not stand here and will not stand here" was said not only by a straightforward Pakistani military man, but also by the head of the country's diplomatic department who spoke in the same spirit. "Under (Prime Minister) Imran Khan there will not be any American bases on Pakistani soil. Forget about the past," said Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi.

Thus, before our eyes, three almost epochal events are taking place at once. Firstly, the United States is suffering a defeat in Afghanistan and is disastrously losing the Afghan war, which has lasted for almost 20 years, with a bang. And to whom? The “Taliban” with "Berdan rifles" defeated the most high-tech military power.

Secondly, they lose any opportunity to influence Afghanistan in any way after the final withdrawal of American troops from there. This completely frees the hands of the “Taliban”, and not only within the country, but also with its neighbours.

Thirdly, without gaining a foothold in India, America has finally lost its best ally in Southeast Asia.

This is how the erosion of the geopolitical influence of the ageing hegemons takes place. Against this background, the only thing the Biden administration can offer Russia at the June 16 talks in Geneva is to allow the United States to leave Eastern Europe quietly, with face saved.

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