November 28, 2011

Anabasis is the classical story by the Greek warrior Xenophon.  In it, he tells the tale of a large army of 10,000 Greek mercenaries hired to help a Persian leader usurp the throne.  At the conclusion of the battle, the Greek leaders are poisoned and the Persians plan to kill or enslave the remaining Greek soldiers.  Anabasis tells the heroic tale of how the legendary Ten Thousand fought their way across hostile southwest Asia to relief on the Black Sea.

I bring up this tale because the United States and its allies in Afghanistan potentially face a similar situation.  After a NATO airstrike in Pakistan killed 24 Pakistani soldiers, the shaky US/Pakistani relationship is in the deepest trouble in years, as Pakistan has closed its border to supply trucks.  At the same time, Russia is trying to pressure the west to abandon its ballistic missile defense plans by threatening to close the Northern supply route.  This would effectively cut Western forces off from resupply and leave them stranded in hostile territory.  It is, of course, unlikely that such a full cut off will occur, but it is a frightening situation that highlights the difficulties of the Afghan operation.


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