BISHKEK (Reuters) - U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said on Tuesday Washington's agreement to use a military air base in Kyrgyzstan was necessary to support the war in Afghanistan.Not much to this, is there, huh? Think again: Kyrgyzstan is one of the former Soviet states, and still has relations (however frosty) with Russia. By proxy, Putin is holding the war on terror as ransom in Kyr...Kryg...this place.
Last month Kyrgyz lawmakers urged the government to evict U.S. troops from the base which is an important hard currency earner for the impoverished Central Asian state.
"I think what's important for the people of Kyrgyzstan to understand is that our use of Manas (Air Force Base) is in support of a larger war on terrorism in which Kyrgyzstan is an ally of virtually every other nation on earth," Gates said.
"We are all working to try and prevent a resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan and our use of Manas is one way in which Kyrgyzstan can play a very important and constructive role in cooperation with many other nations, just not the United States," he told reporters after meeting Kyrgyzstan's minister of defense.
The United States has about 1,200 U.S. troops in Kyrgyzstan. Kyrgyz officials have demanded Washington pay more for the use of the base.
"Proxy" was how wars in Viet Nam, Korea, and Afghanistan were fought during the Cold War. "Prozy" is what the Cuban Missile Crisis was all about.
This particular Asian country is important to maintaining a presence in the region, since the Afghan campaign has hit a rocky patch, and as troops are pulled out of Iraq over American disgust with that invasion, troops may be pulled out of Afghanistan as the failure to really take down Al Qaeda and the Taliban becomes more apparent.
So we have Putin and Bush tossing verbal jabs at each other, a failing war in Afghanistan, a very unpopular and toxic occupation of Iraq, and Iran taking hostages again.
Sounds like the 1970s have returned in earnest...