Tuesday, September 15, 2009

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.


At September 15, 2009 11:33 PM, Blogger Jonathan Versen said...

from the Christian Science Monitor, "Afghanistan will cost us more than Iraq":

"For the first time, the war in Afghanistan in the next budget year will cost Americans more than the war in Iraq. By the end of the next fiscal year, which starts Oct. 1, the total military budget costs for both wars will have exceeded $1 trillion.

That’s more than the cost of the Vietnam War, adjusting for inflation, or any other US war except World War II ($3.2 trillion in 2007 dollars).

A trillion dollars is hard to imagine. Think of it this way: If you had an expense account good for $1 million a day, it would take 2,935 years to spend $1.071 trillion, which is the actual estimate for the wars’ price tag by Travis Sharp of the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation in Washington. He reckons the two conflicts will have cost the typical American family of four roughly $13,000 by next year."

I wish people could see how wrong the war is. Maybe hunting Bin Laden made sense for the first few months, or was at least politically impossible to avoid.

I will admit at the time I was in favor of the initial military operation, even though I was concerned it would become something open-ended and ill-defined once they caught him, which I assumed they would. I guess now that actually catching Bin Laden would have been like announcing a definitive Detente with the Soviets, and taken the wind out of the war and its ongoing justification, so it just wasn't on the agenda.

At this point I also question if OBL was necessarily responsible(I didn't in 2001), but I notice that people don't really discuss that any more anyway.

At September 16, 2009 3:52 PM, Blogger rob payne said...

Well I had a much different view of politics in 2001 than I do now. I would watch the News Hour every evening and always voted Democrat. I think the two must be connected somehow. If I recall I believe I thought it made sense to go to Afghanistan at the time and I think that attitude was illustrative of just how ignorant I was when I was a member of the faithful. Sending the military to do police work should have raised a few red flags but back then I just sort of accepted what I heard on the news regarding such things. And of course this is the big problem isn’t it? People are busy with their own lives especially when the economy is tanking and pay a minimal amount of attention just as I did.

Yes I think you have a good point about catching bin Laden. It would have taken the wind out of their sails (or is that sales as in arms) because whenever a leader tells you that there is something to be afraid of you just know they’re doing something sneaky behind your back. For example today the news is full of articles about Iran with the usual scare-mongering and falsehoods about the Iranian nuclear program due to the upcoming talks and it just so happens that Obama is sending 1000 troops to Iraq even while his stooges claim they are keeping to a timetable of drawdown . Get the eye to watch one hand while the other does the dirty work. Timing seems to be very important.

In my opinion we are well and truly fucked. We don’t have any say in any of this and I think it is partly due to the fact that progressives can’t get their act together, too much infighting amongst themselves while there are no such rifts between the politicos and the money men.

At September 17, 2009 11:34 AM, Blogger Bob In Pacifica said...

CovertActionQuarterly has the slowest, hardest website to crawl around. I'm not sure if the article is up there, but back in the nineties, pre-Taliban, there was an article in the magazine about goals for Unocal putting that pipeline through Afghanistan. Guys like Zbigniew Brzezinski, a Polish equivalent to the White Russian fascists, was in there back then. I suspect that this was the plan going back to the Carter years. As I've pointed out before (maybe here) the oil rights in Central Asia once belonged to American companies before the Russian Revolution, and it's been a goal to get that back for decades.

There is a very good article over at ConsortiumNews.com by Doug Valentine, author of THE PHOENIX PROGRAM, about plans for the Afghan war. Here:


At September 17, 2009 7:21 PM, Blogger rob payne said...

And from the looks of things they are still working hard at getting that oil back. Still, I don’t think they will really succeed with the Afghan election gone south and the growing opposition in Congress to sending more troops. True they aren’t speaking of ending the war but not sending more troops is something though the troops may be sent anyway or they could just send more mercenaries to get around objections. But it won’t work in the end, they’re not going to make Afghan into something they can live with or at least that is my opinion for what it is worth. Thanks for the link, a very informative article, but vampires? The CIA are a strange bunch.


Post a Comment

<< Home