Is Dmitry Rogozin a secret agent of a clandestine Tea Party/Occupy Wall Street alliance, infiltrated into the halls of NATO?
Mr. Rogozin is Russia’s Ambassador to NATO. By day, he is known as a vocal, articulate advocate of Russian national interests. But, by night, is he a secret advocate of the interests of American taxpayers?
At a Tea Party debate on Nov. 17, Republican presidential candidates faced the question: “The US spends about $2 billion a week in Afghanistan; can American afford it?” Candidate after candidate agreed with Rick Perry, the governor of Texas, who said: “Bring our young men and women home.”
Coincidentally, three days later, I was on vacation in New York City. I found the same “bring the troops home” sentiment among signs at the Occupy Wall Street gathering in lower Manhattan.
In the middle, a number of polls indicate that about two-thirds of Americans want a rapid drawdown from Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, the United States completed it war mission in Iraq on Sunday. The media calculated the nine-year bill at nearly $1 trillion. Two days earlier, the U.S. Congress narrowly averted shutting down the federal government in another fight over budget cuts. Now, as unemployment benefits dry up across America, congressmen are desperately searching for new sources of money.
Into this environment, Rogozin, Russia’s NATO ambassador, threw a bombshell: threatening in remarks to Russian reporters to shut down the American military supply line to Afghanistan. Mr. Rogozin knew he would have the U.S. over a barrel because Pakistan closed NATO’s land-based supply routes in late November.
But Ariel Cohen, a Heritage Foundation research fellow, spelled out for Russia the consequences in an essay:
“Rogozin forgets that if the U.S. contingent in Afghanistan is trapped or leaves in haste, the Russian troops may need to fight the Taliban on the Tajik border. This will be a disaster for a country that was defeated in Afghanistan in the 1980s. Russia does not have the resources, personnel, or credible allies for such an open-ended engagement.”
Rogozin floated the threat as a way to push the US to drop construction of a defense system in Eastern Europe designed to knock out one or two missiles fired from Iran. Moscow sees this as ultimately destabilizing a world balance of power, which is predicated on its possession of roughly 1,300 missiles and about 3,500 nuclear warheads.
Rogozin failed to realize that if he pushed the Americans on Afghanistan, he was pushing on an open door.
Given the needed budgetary cuts and the low public support for the war, many powerful people in Washington would be happy to hand off to the Kremlin all or part of the $2 billion a week Afghan bill.
Evidently, that reality penetrated the thick walls of the Kremlin. Someone sat on Rogozin. Now, he says Russian reporters took his threat “out of context.”
After the failure of his Afghan trial balloon, Rogozin now is embarking on a new project. He has just joined the leadership of the campaign to elect Vladimir Putin president.