Keep Moscow and Tehran at bay by putting a US military base in Georgia - OPINION

2020/02/1582524419.jpg
Read: 681     10:31     24 February 2020    

The assassination of Iran’s Quds Force leader, Gen. Qassem Soleimani, marks the latest escalation a dangerous standoff between Washington and Tehran. Despite visible U.S. efforts to pivot to Asia and disengage from the Middle East, it is clear that Iran’s growing influence in the region and its proxy challenges to the United States will force Washington to devote additional forces to the region.


These developments have occurred amid concerns about Russian aggression and expansionism in strategically important spaces beyond Eastern Europe.

In order to contain Iranian influence and deter Russian aggression in their respective regions, the U.S. should be logistically capable of increasing force levels in the Middle East. It should also make sure it has the necessary resources to act as a check on Russia. Georgia is the ideal location to accomplish these goals.

During the Cold War, Georgia was the only Soviet republic that bordered a NATO member state (Turkey). Given its strategic location and its proximity to the NATO forces, the Soviets built sophisticated military infrastructure in Georgia: bases, training centers, military airports, and even underground towns, designed to protect the local population on the one hand and to provide logistical support for the offensive operations on the other.

In the past two decades, with U.S. support, Tbilisi has spent significant resources to renovate hospitals, military bases, and airports. The new infrastructure could be useful not only for defense purposes but also for NATO troops in case of a war in the Middle East. For instance, in addition to providing security and stability alongside the U.S. forces in Afghanistan and Iraq, Georgia has shown its strategic significance and value by successfully contributing to the Northern Distribution Network’s activities, playing a key role in supplying NATO’s international security operations in Afghanistan.

Considering its location and existing infrastructure, Georgia could play a larger role in assisting U.S. efforts to curtail Iranian influence in the Middle East and to deter Russian threats to the South Caucasus.

Moreover, as Washington’s and Ankara’s strategic interests have diverged in recent years, the use of Incirlik Air Base in Turkey has become a subject of repeated contention. What better way to circumvent this problem than to relocate the Incirlik Air Base. Georgia could offer up the Vaziani Military Air Base (a former Soviet base) as a potential location for constructing a U.S. military airbase. Although the U.S. is not expected to transfer certain means and weaponry to Georgia, it still can move enough forces, equipment, and weaponry to exert influence in both regions.

In the same vein, Washington could consider Luke Coffey’s suggestion to station U.S. troops in Georgia as it contemplates leaving Syria and Iraq. Given Akhalkalaki’s strategic location and its proximity to Syria and Iraq (another former Soviet and Russian base only 460 miles from Raqqa), it is an ideal place for U.S. troops to respond quickly if ISIS rebuilds or other conflicts erupt in the Middle East. The need to integrate Georgia into U.S.-Middle Eastern policy has grown substantially in recent months, as Iraqis renewed their calls for the U.S. forces to leave Iraq and the Pentagon ponders troop withdrawal from Iraq.

As a further benefit, a U.S. base in Georgia would change the balance of power in the South Caucasus. It would create more room for Armenia to strengthen ties to the U.S. and rearrange its strategic and foreign policy orientation. It could decrease its reliance on Russia’s military might and give a new impetus to settle the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict while reviving its Euro-Atlantic integration efforts.

The ongoing democratic changes in Armenia under Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, who displaced leaders from the corrupt, pro-Russian establishment, demonstrate Armenia’s growing potential and its maturity for a strategic westward reorientation.

A U.S. base in Georgia would also help repair Azerbaijan’s relations with the U.S. The Russian invasion of Georgia in 2008, and the resultant insecurity contributed to Baku’s overtures to Moscow. A U.S. base and boots on the ground in Georgia, next to its border, could facilitate meaningful U.S.-Azerbaijan cooperation and give Baku some confidence in addressing challenges emanating from Moscow.

Skeptics in Washington may worry that the U.S. military base in Georgia could increase the risk of the U.S. direct conflict with Russia. They may argue that Moscow has a greater interest in South Caucuses than the U.S does and that Moscow would always out-escalate the U.S. in any conflict over Georgia. But U.S. forces remain stronger, better equipped and more powerful than Russia’s by quite a bit. Considering U.S. military and economic superiority, and all the allies the U.S. brings to the table, Russia is far less likely to go to war with the United States over a military base in Georgia.

A strong U.S. military presence in Europe deterred the Soviet Union during the Cold War. A similar presence in the Caucasus will deter a much weaker Russia in the future.

Washington Examiner



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Keep Moscow and Tehran at bay by putting a US military base in Georgia - OPINION

2020/02/1582524419.jpg
Read: 682     10:31     24 February 2020    

The assassination of Iran’s Quds Force leader, Gen. Qassem Soleimani, marks the latest escalation a dangerous standoff between Washington and Tehran. Despite visible U.S. efforts to pivot to Asia and disengage from the Middle East, it is clear that Iran’s growing influence in the region and its proxy challenges to the United States will force Washington to devote additional forces to the region.


These developments have occurred amid concerns about Russian aggression and expansionism in strategically important spaces beyond Eastern Europe.

In order to contain Iranian influence and deter Russian aggression in their respective regions, the U.S. should be logistically capable of increasing force levels in the Middle East. It should also make sure it has the necessary resources to act as a check on Russia. Georgia is the ideal location to accomplish these goals.

During the Cold War, Georgia was the only Soviet republic that bordered a NATO member state (Turkey). Given its strategic location and its proximity to the NATO forces, the Soviets built sophisticated military infrastructure in Georgia: bases, training centers, military airports, and even underground towns, designed to protect the local population on the one hand and to provide logistical support for the offensive operations on the other.

In the past two decades, with U.S. support, Tbilisi has spent significant resources to renovate hospitals, military bases, and airports. The new infrastructure could be useful not only for defense purposes but also for NATO troops in case of a war in the Middle East. For instance, in addition to providing security and stability alongside the U.S. forces in Afghanistan and Iraq, Georgia has shown its strategic significance and value by successfully contributing to the Northern Distribution Network’s activities, playing a key role in supplying NATO’s international security operations in Afghanistan.

Considering its location and existing infrastructure, Georgia could play a larger role in assisting U.S. efforts to curtail Iranian influence in the Middle East and to deter Russian threats to the South Caucasus.

Moreover, as Washington’s and Ankara’s strategic interests have diverged in recent years, the use of Incirlik Air Base in Turkey has become a subject of repeated contention. What better way to circumvent this problem than to relocate the Incirlik Air Base. Georgia could offer up the Vaziani Military Air Base (a former Soviet base) as a potential location for constructing a U.S. military airbase. Although the U.S. is not expected to transfer certain means and weaponry to Georgia, it still can move enough forces, equipment, and weaponry to exert influence in both regions.

In the same vein, Washington could consider Luke Coffey’s suggestion to station U.S. troops in Georgia as it contemplates leaving Syria and Iraq. Given Akhalkalaki’s strategic location and its proximity to Syria and Iraq (another former Soviet and Russian base only 460 miles from Raqqa), it is an ideal place for U.S. troops to respond quickly if ISIS rebuilds or other conflicts erupt in the Middle East. The need to integrate Georgia into U.S.-Middle Eastern policy has grown substantially in recent months, as Iraqis renewed their calls for the U.S. forces to leave Iraq and the Pentagon ponders troop withdrawal from Iraq.

As a further benefit, a U.S. base in Georgia would change the balance of power in the South Caucasus. It would create more room for Armenia to strengthen ties to the U.S. and rearrange its strategic and foreign policy orientation. It could decrease its reliance on Russia’s military might and give a new impetus to settle the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict while reviving its Euro-Atlantic integration efforts.

The ongoing democratic changes in Armenia under Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, who displaced leaders from the corrupt, pro-Russian establishment, demonstrate Armenia’s growing potential and its maturity for a strategic westward reorientation.

A U.S. base in Georgia would also help repair Azerbaijan’s relations with the U.S. The Russian invasion of Georgia in 2008, and the resultant insecurity contributed to Baku’s overtures to Moscow. A U.S. base and boots on the ground in Georgia, next to its border, could facilitate meaningful U.S.-Azerbaijan cooperation and give Baku some confidence in addressing challenges emanating from Moscow.

Skeptics in Washington may worry that the U.S. military base in Georgia could increase the risk of the U.S. direct conflict with Russia. They may argue that Moscow has a greater interest in South Caucuses than the U.S does and that Moscow would always out-escalate the U.S. in any conflict over Georgia. But U.S. forces remain stronger, better equipped and more powerful than Russia’s by quite a bit. Considering U.S. military and economic superiority, and all the allies the U.S. brings to the table, Russia is far less likely to go to war with the United States over a military base in Georgia.

A strong U.S. military presence in Europe deterred the Soviet Union during the Cold War. A similar presence in the Caucasus will deter a much weaker Russia in the future.

Washington Examiner



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