When are foreign troops overstaying their welcome?

Almost always, to be sure! Anytime… anywhere!

First of all, nations, or at least the people that populate those nations, never extend welcomes to foreign troops. Their leaders do. And those leaders, more often than not, represent their own personal interests, or those of the groups they front.

That thought applies to the supposedly “friendly” military guests… but what about the others, the uninvited foreign troops? Call them by whatever preferred name you wish: invaders, liberators, mercenaries, occupiers…

Unbidden guests are often welcomest, said Shakespeare, when they are gone. That’s something most of us can assent to personally… and we suspect such dictum also applies in affairs-of-state.

After 9/11, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan could not very well deny support to the US when asked. Even Russia had to look the other way as the US mustered more than a casual presence in those nations’ military bases, instead of just temporary access for the initial campaign in Afghanistan . Needless to say, after combat is out of the way, there is always the “stability” issue. And so, American troops are likely to remain there "as permitted" [Russian "spetsnaz" commandos attesting to that with their impending takeover of Karshi-Khanabad after the recent Uzbek invitation for US departure]… for it is in the nature of foreign troops, by their presence, to create or aggravate instability. It’s a safe bet to predict that stability will never be reached in Afghanistan or in Iraq … not while American troops are stationed there.

There is little question that the current joint military exercises by Russia and China, “Peace Mission 2005,” are but a marketing opportunity for Russia to show China its military wares, particularly the Tu-95 strategic and the Tu-22M long-range bombers, both capable of carrying nuclear-tipped cruise missiles. Both the Pentagon and the State Department would be blind not to see a commonality of interests by these two nations to keep Central Asia free from America influence… certainly free from American dominance. Unlikely bedfellows can emerge to counter dominance by the only existing military superpower. And the Shanghai Cooperation Organization is just that start.

Recently, I was the subject of an interview by an Azerbaijani news agency, chosen perhaps because of my writings on a geographical area seldom touched by the press in the West, not since the cease of hostilities in the 90’s between Armenians and Azeris on the issue of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Half of the questions were de rigueur with an economic flavor- dealing specifically with the “oil factor” and the economic development of Azerbaijan from the revenues to be obtained from the BTC pipeline. The other half had as its theme how America ’s influence, or dominance, in the region would affect them (Azerbaijanis).

Representative questions of the latter were:

  • How did I judge President Bush’s call for support of democratic processes in Southern Caucasus and Central Asia during his speech in Tbilisi , Georgia ?
  • Will US’ desire to see current post Soviet regimes replaced by more democratic ones cause tension with Russia “which supports present regimes”?
  • Would I consider the current regime in Azerbaijan to be democratic?
  • How realistic would be for Russia to have a “velvet revolution”?
  • Is Iran ’s fate going to be like Iraq’s? And, if so,
  • Is the US likely to use Azerbaijan for any military intervention in Iran?

American history evidences US’ propensity to exercise gunboat diplomacy at requested or unbidden invitations, often involving friendly dictators. [Their undemocratic ways somehow seemed less repugnant when some American interests were to be well served by their help.] But, although we associate that behavior with US incursions in Latin America, we must not lose sight of the fact that in this new century, and given the magna carta of neocon aspirations, a new-age diplomacy must be installed… one that operates in the context that the United States is the one and only superpower. We are way past the Monroe Doctrine, or the cold war with the Soviet Union .

An American mom, Cindy Sheehan, together with other moms throughout the US, may be expressing their sentiments, asserting that the Bush administration erred by invading Iraq, and insisting the US pulls its troops out of that country; this, while leaders in Washington, Republicans and Democrats, rationalize that since we are already there, we must act as if a welcome mat had been extended for us. But in truth, Americans will never get a true pulse of the situation until they begin to comprehend and accept that moms come in a variety of shades and nationalities, and that includes Iraqi moms.

American troops have overstayed their welcome in many locales around the globe, specifically at this moment, in Iraq ; unfortunately for peace and reconciliation, Iraq continues to have a place of great geopolitical significance in the neocon lexicon. It boils down to a simple question: is ours a search for peace, or one of world dominance? Answering that question will confront us with the truth, and do away with the continuing political hypocrisy espoused by the White House and… yes, Congress!