Why Afghanistan?

There are other reasons for the US to be involved in Afghanistan,al Qaeda not being the most important.Control of Afghanistan give the United States access to Iran to the north are many of the ” Stans” Afghanistan is a very Strategic area.

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By Timothy V. Gatto

Lately, I’ve been listening to folks like Rachel Maddow and Richard Holbrooke talk about the situation in Afghanistan. I’ve been hearing that the rate of illiteracy in that country runs in the area of 70 to 80%. The government is having a hard time enforcing the law because in cities like Kandahar, there are only 9 magistrates to hear court cases. I’ve also heard about the government, along with the military forces from NATO, have seemingly stopped cutting down Afghan poppy and marijuana fields so that farmers can stay afloat selling these crops.

I’ve heard that the primary mission of the NATO forces is to prevent “collateral damage” to civilians as they relentlessly hunt down the Taliban. It’s been reported that the Taliban gave al Qaeda a free hand to operate in this poor, backwards country which led to the September 11th attacks on the United States in 2001, and that this is the primary reason that the United States and NATO operate on the premise that if we don’t develop a strong central government in Kabul, that more attacks will surely hit the United states “Homeland” after being planned in Afghanistan.

During an interview with Rachel Maddow, Special Envoy to the nations of Pakistan and Afghanistan Richard C. Holbrooke remarked that NATO must create a strong central government in order to get the majority of the populace to align themselves with the government in Kabul. This supposedly, would break the grip that the Taliban holds over the people that live in the rural areas. Since a hefty majority or the Afghan population live in the rural areas, this becomes a very tall order.

While listening to Holbrooke pontificate on the problems that the central government faces in winning “the hearts and minds” of the Afghan people, I couldn’t help but remember the rhetoric that came out of Vietnam over 40 years ago. There too, we were involved in winning “the hearts and minds” of the Vietnamese people and there too, Richard C. Holbrooke was involved in that strategy.

Listening to Holbrooke discuss the reasons we are in Afghanistan made me think about what a wonderful nation the United States truly is. Even though we are experiencing a recession that is akin to the Great Depression of the 1930’s, with official unemployment figures running about 9 percent on average (while the true figures are obscured because so many have come off the unemployment rolls due to these people no longer being eligible for unemployment benefits due to the length of time they have been unemployed and many have ceased looking for work, while some economists claim the real figures are between 20 and 25%), we valiantly spend our nation’s treasure to “help” these unfortunate Afghan people to build a nation free from corruption and rule by tribal warlords.

Holbrooke claims that we are making substantial progress in opening schools while training the Afghan Army and police forces to bring about a nation run by law. Even though the main cash crop in that country is opium that accounts for something like 95% of Europe’s heroin supply and most of its hashish, we are asked to believe that soon Afghanistan will be a major supplier of corn and other foodstuffs after the central government “rehabilitates” the farmers that make their livings off of narco-agriculture. After all, why would farmers willingly grow poppies and marijuana when they could grow eggplants, melons and corn?

Listening to government officials like General Ben Hodges describe the Taliban’s way of settling disputes in Kandahar made me wonder if the military leadership over there are sampling the hashish being grown by the farmers. (). The truth as I see it, there is so much corruption and so little support from the government in Kabul, the idea of bringing Afghanistan into the twenty-first century could take decades.

The true nature of our involvement in Afghanistan is something that has yet to be defined. The obvious question is why are we there? What makes this nation (and I use the term loosely), so important that we need 150,000 troops from the U.S. (and almost as many mercenaries), and tens of thousands of troops from NATO as well as Mongolia, South Korea and other non-NATO countries, to perform the task of “nation-building”? Is it because of the TAPI petroleum pipeline that will run from the Caucuses to ports in India, thus bringing oil from the Caucuses without having to go through Russia, and insuring petroleum to Western Europe without the inconvenience of having it controlled by Russia and thus holding Western Europe hostage? Here is an excerpt from Wikipedia on the pipeline;

“The new deal on the pipeline was signed on 27 December 2002 by the leaders of Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan. In 2005, the Asian Development Bank submitted the final version of a feasibility study designed by British company Penspen. ‘Since the US-led offensive that ousted the Taliban from power,’ reported Forbes in 2005, “the project has been revived and drawn strong US support” as it would allow the Central Asian republics to export energy to Western markets “without relying on Russian routes”. Then-US Ambassador to Turkmenistan Ann Jacobsen noted that: “We are seriously looking at the project, and it is quite possible that American companies will join it.”[5] Due to increasing instability, the project has essentially stalled; construction of the Turkmen part was supposed to start in 2006, but the overall feasibility is questionable since the southern part of the Afghan section runs through territory which continues to be under de facto Taliban control.”

There are other reasons for the U.S. to be involved in Afghanistan, al Qaeda not being the most important. Control of Afghanistan gives the United States access to Iran to the west and China to the east whiles to the north are many of the “Stans”. Afghanistan is a very strategic area. Read more of this post

Afghan War and the Central Asia Pipeline Plan

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by Bruce Gagnon:

The Washington Post has introduced us to a controversy over Afghanistan war strategy. The Post reports that operations in Delaram (in the southwest) are “far from a strategic priority for senior officers at the international military headquarters in Kabul. One calls Delaram, a day’s drive from the nearest city, ‘the end of the Earth.’ Another deems the area ‘unrelated to our core mission’ of defeating the Taliban by protecting Afghans in their cities and towns.”
Why then are the Marines fighting in this part of the country?
The Post continues, “The Marines are constructing a vast base on the outskirts of town that will have two airstrips, an advanced combat hospital, a post office, a large convenience store and rows of housing trailers stretching as far as the eye can see. By this summer, more than 3,000 Marines — one-tenth of the additional troops authorized by President Obama in December — will be based here.”
Again the Post adds, “They [some officials] question whether a large operation that began last month to flush the Taliban out of Marja, a poor farming community in central Helmand, is the best use of Marine resources. Although it has unfolded with fewer than expected casualties and helped to generate a perception of momentum in the U.S.-led military campaign, the mission probably will tie up two Marine battalions and hundreds of Afghan security forces until the summer.”
And finally the Post reports, “Brig. Gen. Lawrence D. Nicholson, the top Marine commander in Afghanistan now wants Marine units to push through miles of uninhabited desert to establish control of a crossing point for insurgents, drugs and weapons on the border with Pakistan. And he wants to use the new base in Delaram to mount more operations in Nimruz, a part of far southwestern Afghanistan deemed so unimportant that it is one of the only provinces where there is no U.S. or NATO reconstruction team.”

When you check the maps above a clearer picture emerges. The bottom map is the proposed pipeline route to move Caspian Sea oil through Turkmenistan into Afghanistan and then finally through Pakistan to ports along the Arabian Sea where U.S. and British tankers would gorge themselves with the black gold.

The whole reason the U.S. is in Afghanistan and Pakistan today is to deny those pipelines from being routed through Russia, China, or Iran.

Then look at the top map where the U.S. Marines are operating inside Afghanistan and causing some controversy within the military. They are building big bases in desolate southwestern Afghanistan and wanting to extend control in that region near the border of Pakistan – all of which are areas that must “be controlled” if pipelines are to be successfully built and maintained.

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Peacekeeping or War-making?

Murray Dobbin | Watching the response of the Canadian government to the catastrophe in Haiti I am sure I am not the only person to see this as a powerful counterpoint to our grotesque participation in the occupation of Afghanistan. How do Canadians feel, for example, when they hear of an RCMP officer killed as a peacekeeper versus a soldier killed in Afghanistan? Sadness for both, of course – both were doing jobs they were told to do. But the death of the soldier in Afghanistan is much more complicated. For me, the death is doubly tragic because that soldier is there illegally, the killing he is engaged in (both civilians and the Taliban) is done for no purpose the government can explain, and the mission itself is almost universally recognized as ill-conceived and doomed to fail – no matter how its goals are defined. Nothing good will come from all those lives lost, mangled or ruined by serious injury.

While the RCMP’s role in Haiti can never be seen to be completely pure and altruistic, given Canada’s shameful role in ousting Haiti’s president, by most accounts Haiti had become less violent. And the Haitian people generally welcomed the development, such as it was, and the peace. At least our mission there, tainted as it was, allows for honourable deaths of soldiers and police if and when such occur.

In Afghanistan, ultimately, no such honour is possible. We send our soldiers, most of them young, to a place that does not want them, where they know that progress is either temporary or non-existent, where they are propping up a terminally corrupt Afghan government and are complicit in the geo-political objectives of the US in securing oil and gas supplies. A death here is tragic because it is we, as Canadians, who are sending soldiers to die for nothing. Worse, to die for an ignoble cause. Read more of this post

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