Afghanistan’s Strategic Importance
We Looked Under All the Rocks
Something significant just blew by and I’m not sure too many have noted its passing. I was just saying in my last post that al-Qaeda had eight years to leave Afghanistan and probably had. And here is the good general McChrystal confirming that this is indeed true.Via Jason Ditz…
"I do not see indications of a large al-Qaida presence in Afghanistan now," McChrystal told reporters at the Dutch Defense Ministry, where he met military officials.
That’s pretty clear isn’t it? McChrystal does not see indications of a large al-Qaeda presence in Afghanistan now.
So why is this so important? Obama tells us the reason for the ongoing occupation in Afghanistan is to protect Americans from terrorists as in al-Qaeda but now that it is known that al-Qaeda doesn’t have a large presence in Afghanistan it rather lets the air out of Obama’s bag. Will this change anything? I doubt it. More likely, it, and the war will pass like ships in the night as McChrystal’s statement will be forgotten and we can forge ahead with the same old lie stamped on our foreheads, right next to the word “sucker”.
I came across an interesting view on the “why” we are really in Afghanistan as I read Perilous Power: The Middle East and U.S. foreign Policy a book that is basically a transcript of a discussion between Noam Chomsky and Gilbert Achcar. Achcar relates that the reason for our presence in Afghanistan is Afghanistan’s strategic value due to its geographical location. Achcar says that the U.S. never really planned to control Afghanistan the way we control Iraq pointing out that it would take far more troops then are now there, indeed, even more than the 130,000 troops now in Iraq due to Afghanistan’s geography, size, and complexities. According to Achcar to understand why the location is important is that looking at Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, where the U.S. has set up airbases, lie in the heart of the former Soviet Union and that Washington is trying to set a military vice around the Caspian Basin, an important source of oil and gas.
Even more importantly, according to Achcar, is that Afghanistan and Central Asia lie in the heart of the landmass extending from European Russia to China which is important to Washington who is worried about the recent joint military maneuvers between China and Russia. These reasons at least make much more sense than the terrorist scenario we have been expected to believe. Apparently, according to Wikipedia, Dick Cheney agrees with Achcar.
The oil in the Caspian basin is estimated to be worth over US $12 trillion. The sudden collapse of the USSR and subsequent opening of the region has led to an intense investment and development scramble by international oil companies. In 1998 Dick Cheney commented that "I can't think of a time when we've had a region emerge as suddenly to become as strategically significant as the Caspian."
For A Little Bit of Fuel
This brings us to another “why” which is why what we are doing is wrong. If Achcar is correct in his assessment then we are occupying and killing civilians for some very strange motives. It really doesn’t tally when you look at the price the dirt-poor Afghans must pay just so the U.S. can pursue some future goal based on insane paranoia and our preoccupation with our own interests. Just for a taste of what the Afghans have been going through for eight years of U.S. occupation. Via Chris Floyd...
Jan Mohammad, an old man with a white beard and green eyes, said angrily: "I ran, I ran to find my son because nobody would give me a lift. I couldn't find him."
He dropped his head on his palm that was resting on the table, and started banging his head against his white mottled hand. When he raised his head his eyes were red and tears were rolling down his cheek: "I couldn't find my son, so I took a piece of flesh with me home and I called it my son. I told my wife we had him, but I didn't let his children or anyone see. We buried the flesh as it if was my son."
He broke off, then shouted at the young Assadullah, who had knocked at the old man's house and told his son to come with them there was free fuel for everyone, "You destroyed my home", Assadu-llah turned his head and looked at the wall. "You destroyed my home," he shouted again. Jan Mohammad dropped his head again on his palm and rolled it left and right, his big gray turban moving like a huge pendulum, "Taouba [forgiveness]," he hissed. "People lost their fathers and sons for a little bit of fuel. Forgiveness."
Words like forgiveness do not fit in with the vernacular of U.S. foreign policy. Nor do words like moral or empathy. Just imagine thousands of lives slaughtered just so the U.S. can strategically position itself for some half-imagined benefit that might or might not present itself in an uncertain future. The lack of concern for human life is positively breathtaking. It’s like driving your four wheel drive through a crowd of people killing dozens because it would shave a few minutes off your commute.
This is Obama’s war now. He claimed it as his own during his campaign, possibly the only promise he has kept. The blood of these innocent people are on Obama’s hands. Seventy five people incinerated and that is only a fraction of the body count since Obama was inaugurated. One could argue that Obama cannot end the occupation of Afghanistan but that is not true. There is growing opposition to the Afghan War in Congress, even Pelosi has come out against sending more troops there and the fact is I don’t even see Obama trying to end the war. I don’t see Obama trying one bit.