Saturday Hodgepodge

Oil for Israel and Europe from Azerbaijan

Here’s another reason for the demonstrations against the current government of Iran in Azerbaijan — the rantings of Ahmadinejad against Israel might interupt a major source of revenue for the region. Israel buys 40,000 barrels of oil a day from the Azerbaijan region.

Upsurge of Attacks by Taliban in Afghanistan leads to Taliban deaths

While the MSM will paint these attacks as losses for the US and the Afgan government of Karzai, they are largely victories. Masses of taliban fighters are being called back by Mullah Omar and others, and they are dieing in masses. That’s a good thing, not a bad thing.

“In the last two months, the Taliban have been conducting larger attacks this year than they did during the same time last year,” Pace said. “The problem for the Taliban is that as they have gotten larger groups together, they have become much bigger targets. And they have lost about 300 Taliban in the last two months during those operations. So the Taliban are a tactical problem for the coalition in Afghanistan. [But] the coalition in Afghanistan is a strategic problem for the Taliban.”

In the end to win in Afghanistan you have to do three things: Kick everyone’s ass, demonstrate that you will persist, and then buy all the local warlords to your side. The warchest needs to re-open in southern Afghanistan, and we need to use it to corner Omar and potentially Bin Laden. This is how the Russians failed, they did not persist, and they did not buy allies.

The last time the region was truly conquered, Alexander the Great fought long and hard against a nimble opponent who always ran away to fight another day. In the end Alexander bought off all of the Grey Wolves’ allies and thus conquered him, as detailed in Steven Pressfield’s great  book, “The Virtue of War“. Alexander ended the campaign by defeating Spitamenes’ Oxyartes and marrying his daughter, Roxana, who bore his son Alexander IV.

UPDATE, Courtesy Captain’s Quarters:

House and Senate negotiators reached agreement last night on a $94.5 billion package to pay for Iraq war and hurricane recovery costs, after shaving numerous extraneous provisions that the Senate had wanted to stuff into the bill.

The bill, which is expected to reach President Bush’s desk next week, would designate $65.8 billion to the Pentagon to cover troop pay, provide recruiting incentives, buy new body armor and fund continued operations of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, among other items. Diplomacy projects in the region would receive $3.9 billion in new funding.

3.9B for diplomacy will certainly buy some warlords and tribal leaders in Southern Afghanistan and North Pakistan.

More on the Politics of Energy dependency from Poland:

Polish politicians say national energy policy will only be effective if it is built on the principle of solidarity. Poland’s priority is to diversify sources of gas.

Russia is increasingly seen as cynically taking advantage of the former East Bloc countries’ dependence on its raw materials. After pro-Western forces won the elections in Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova, Gazprom dramatically increased its gas prices for these countries. The Kremlin argues that the alternative for these countries is to return their gas pipelines to Russia. Countries that refuse to obey Gazprom’s dictatorship have their gas and oil taps turned off during the harshest spells of winter weather. Georgia, Belarus and Ukraine have frequently experienced such interruptions.