Kyrgyzstan-US: On Thursday, 20 June, the Kyrgyz parliament voted 91 to 5 in favor of ending the lease agreement with the US for use of Manas air base when it expires in 2014. The bill will take effect after being signed by the Kyrgyz president. The US has been given notice to vacate the premises by July 2014 when the lease expires.
Comment: The vote is no surprise, though the US had hoped to keep using Manas after 2014. President Atambayev campaigned in 2011 to end the lease agreement with the US and to establish closer ties with Russia. Last year, Kyrgyzstan extended for 15 years the Russian lease to use Kant air base, which is not far from Manas.
The transit center at Manas has been critical in military personnel movements to and from Afghanistan, but the lease agreement has been a longstanding source of controversy among Kyrgyzstan, Russia and the US. The significance of a firm end date is that it takes away any easy option and capability for an emergency surge or bailout, to help save the Karzai government after mid-2014. It also means the final phase of the withdrawal must transit Pakistan or use Russian bases.
Like South Asia, Central Asia is a half-continent too far for the US to sustain deep engagement in defiance of Russia or China.
Afghanistan: For the record. In web postings today, the Taliban gloated about their political victory over the US.
Phi Beta Iota: Henry Kissinger murdered an additional 20,000 US personnel, and over 100,000 Vietnamese and other nationalities, for raw domestic political advantage harmful to the public interest. Obama is repeating that mistake in allowing people to continue to lie to him and promulgate nonsense. The priority objective for US foreign policy should be to withdraw its military presence around the world, reboot NATO as a multinational information-sharing and sense-making network, and reinstate diplomacy, commerce, and information as the first three elements of “DIME.” Anything less is a continued betrayal of the public trust.