Why are we in Afghanistan? They’re called PIPELINES!

By Michael Payne

What is the mission, what is the objective? Well, we keep hearing the same old, “we’re fighting there so that the terrorists can’t attack us again”, or, “we are bringing democracy to that nation.” If the American public still buys into that simplistic, faulted view after almost nine years of occupation, then it’s time for a huge wake up call. We are there for one overriding reason—to establish a long-term presence in that region of the world to secure and guarantee future supplies of natural gas and petroleum.

To answer critics who will say that Al Qaeda terrorists must be contained in Afghanistan and parts of Pakistan, the facts are that those terrorists are situated in many countries of the world from which new attacks could be planned and launched. In fact, much of the planning for the attack of 9/11 was done in Germany. Since 1992 there have been attacks by Al Qaeda in Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Algiers and several other nations.

To be explicit, one of the main reasons our military forces, together with NATO, are fighting to defeat and pacify the Taliban insurgents is to pave the way for the construction of the TAPI pipeline to transport natural gas and oil from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan, to Pakistan and India. Some of it, without a doubt, will be channeled to seaports in Pakistan for transport to European nations, who need to acquire additional sources of natural gas. That fact should explain why European nations are involved in Afghanistan as a part of NATO. While several pipelines are being planned for that geographic region, the TAPI pipeline is the main objective.

It is a matter of record that Unocal, a major U.S. oil company, was in negotiations with the nation of Turkmenistan and Taliban leaders as early as 1995 with regard to construction of several potential pipeline routes, including the TAPI. These pipelines would be in operation today if normal conditions existed in that region of the world. But nothing close to normal conditions exists in that region because of the special interests and strategies of all the major, competing nations who are competing for control of oil and natural gas resources.

The chief impediment to a pipeline through Afghanistan was and still remains the Taliban. Once an ally of the U.S. during the 1980’s when our aim was to see that the Russians were defeated and forced to leave Afghanistan, the Taliban are now on the opposite side and are determined not to allow the U.S. military to prevail. The proposed pipeline into and through Afghanistan is totally dependent on whether the Taliban decide to end their insurgency and cooperate with all parties in this project. Based on the strategy that we are taking, trying to bomb them into complete submission, that is not likely to happen.

Without the blessing and cooperation of the Taliban, there is no way that this pipeline going through extremely barren and isolated areas could be protected. It would simply not be able to withstand constant, random attacks and would become a terribly expensive bust. Now, does it become clear as to why the Taliban must be pacified and rendered powerless? And why we have no intention of leaving?

Afghanistan sits at the very center of a region that includes the major nuclear powers of China, Russia, Pakistan and India. That makes Afghanistan of great strategic value. Also, it is not just a desolate, mountainous country. It is said to have enormous amounts of natural resources; iron ore, coal, natural gas, petroleum among others. That the Pentagon would even consider walking away from Afghanistan is almost unthinkable.

To watch our nation’s leaders, the national media and the American people all continuing to delude themselves by believing that the U.S. mission and objective in Afghanistan is to create a democracy, defeat the terrorists, eliminate the heroin industry and establish rights for women is almost incomprehensible. But then we must remember that the American people certainly have little to no knowledge of the massive geopolitical chess game that is going on in Central Asia and surrounding areas to control these rich resources.

After almost nine years, the American people are still not being truthfully informed about the real reasons that the U.S. military is fighting in Afghanistan. The facts are well known by most respected journalists in the Middle East, Asia, Europe and, yes, a few in America. Those journalists in other countries have written extensively about the ambitious plans for constructing these pipelines but in our country, the national media has been muzzled by their corporate masters. And, in turn, this media has muzzled the American mind.

Right now, the situation for the U.S. in Afghanistan is deteriorating. The Taliban grow stronger and are constantly recruiting more fighters to their cause, especially after deadly drones kill many innocent civilians. Our military leaders have come to the conclusion that they can’t really win under current conditions so they are reverting to the faulted strategy of the Vietnam War; throw more and more troops, and more bombs and drones into the quagmire with the false hope that we can prove the lessons of history wrong.

And so, the American public continues to listen to the same old reasons for why our military must be there just as it listened to the lies and distortions that preceded the invasion and occupation of Iraq. It seems that a very large part of our society will believe almost anything that they are told by the journalistically-challenged national media. As proof of the spell that this media holds on the American public is the fact that poll after poll continues to indicate that millions of Americans still believe that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and that he was directly involved in the attack of 9/ll.

The quest for guaranteeing future supplies of natural gas and petroleum constitutes the most important objective to the major nations of the world. But let’s take the cases of the U.S. and China and examine their separate and distinctly different approaches to reaching this objective.

China, with over one billion people, a rapidly expanding economy and a massive need for gas and oil for industrial development has been very active and very successful in negotiating contracts for these resources all over the world, including nations in Africa and even South America (Venezuela). Their military forces and associated budgets are minuscule as compared to those of the U.S. But they are not bogged down, militarily, anywhere in the world. They do not have massive budget deficits or a large national debt. They are a premier creditor nation.

The U.S. has a wholly different approach to securing oil and gas resources to protect our future. We have been very active in carrying out military actions in the Middle East, specifically Iraq since 2003 and Afghanistan since 200l. We have a military budget of nearly $1 trillion, and we have the largest budget deficits and national debt among the developed industrial nations. We are “the premier” debtor nation.

The U.S. has, for decades, been laying the foundation for a permanent presence in the resource-rich regions of the Middle East and Central Asia. But this aggressive military based strategy has now shown to be unsustainable as more and more nations in those regions are finding ways to counteract our intentions.

America is now at yet another critical crossroads and our leaders must come to the realization that they are following a disastrous faulted strategy; one that has not worked and will never work. It is now time for President Obama to take America off the disastrous course that it has been following and turn this nation in a completely new direction.

If this nation and our leaders cannot find a way to break free itself from the current obsession with using only military might and war to solve critical problems, then there is no hope for the perpetuation of our democracy.

Michael Payne resides in the Chicago area. He considers himself an activist and concentrates his writings mainly on political matters, American foreign policy and climate change. His articles have appeared on Online Journal, Information Clearing House, Peak Oil, Google News and others., October 6, 2009