Did U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta commit a gaffe this week when he let slip early the plan to accelerate the pullout from Afghanistan? After all, the move comes as a surprise to Kabul which was still operating under the end of 2014 timeline. What does this mean? Has stability in the region exceeded expectations thus justifying an earlier than planned exit? In fact, the opposite is likely true. A NATO report entitled ‘State of the Taliban 2012’ has leaked and purports that the Taliban are winning the war with the Afghan people and are prepared to re-establish control as soon as the U.S. steps aside. The U.S. and NATO dispute this claim.
Of course, nothing is ever as it seems when Afghanistan is involved. We claimed to enter the conflict (because it’s another undeclared war) in response to the 9/11 attack in order to eradicate the Taliban and subsequently Al-Qaeda and Usama Bin Laden. That’s the narrative for public consumption at any rate. The truth is far from it and the U.S. pullout without completing the stated mission vindicates it. Let’s review.
In 1995, Turkmenistan and Pakistan were negotiating a proposed pipeline with an Argentinian company called Bridas Corp. in order to secure a pipeline from the Caspian Sea (which is landlocked) to an open sea port. The logical path was through Afghanistan, however, a civil war was still underway in the wake of the Russian pullout when they lost their war there. This pipeline is called the Trans-Afghan pipeline (TAPI) and has been dead or alive in varying degrees for decades now. It could not be built without stability in Afghanistan. UNOCAL was the primary U.S. corporation in line to benefit from this pipeline. UNOCAL had strong ties to the Bush administration. In 1998, a UNOCAL executive named John Maresca testified in front of Congress as to the need for pipeline expansion in this region. Here is a good primer on the entire history of the pipeline – http://www.pm-pipeliner.safan.com/mag/ppl0411/r06.pdf.
Here is an excerpt from a Chicago Tribune article from March 18, 2002. Read it here.
If one looks at the map of the big American bases created for the war, one is struck by the fact that they are completely identical to the route of the projected oil pipeline to the Indian Ocean
Did you know that Hamid Karzai, the Afghan President, is a former UNOCAL employee? The situation has evolved immensely since the early 90’s when it started as UNOCAL is now completely out of the project. Karzai is considered a U.S. puppet installed by Bush and will likely be replaced once the Taliban retake control of the country.
Fast forward to 2001 and we had the 9/11 attacks. The perfect opportunity to enter Afghanistan and secure the region for our strategic energy policies. I know what your thinking. Another 9/11 conspirator. Not at all. My position has always been one that our government is an opportunistic one. They take advantage of geo-political events in order to execute policy goals. Creating a false flag event such as a government planned and executed disaster such as 9/11 would take too many people involved to ever keep it quiet. Do they ‘allow’ events to happen that they have knowledge of if it will benefit them? Do they actively engage as with the negotiations prior to 9/11 with Bin Laden and the Taliban over pipeline access in exchange for Taliban recognition? Both Clinton and Bush played ball here so it’s not at all a partisan issue. You decide.
The fact is that we have been engaged in a tug-of-war with Russia and China for decades in order to secure energy and natural resource access and control. If Russia were allowed to take complete control of the Caspian Sea region, they would easily be the dominant energy supplier of the world far exceeding the Middle East. Pipelines and access routes are absolutely critical to global power. The superpowers that control the energy largely control the globe. Here is a link breaking down some of the energy reserves at stake in the region – http://www.unece.org/fileadmin/DAM/env/epr/experts/Azerbaijan/eia_Caspian%20Sea%20Region%20Reserves%20and%20Pipelines.htm
Afghanistan provided an opening for an idea that had been already been discussed for years. For another example of our opportunistic policy, look at the PATRIOT ACT and the Department of Homeland Security. Again, these were sold to the average Joe as a response to the 9/11 attacks. Yet, the evidence is quite the opposite. These ideas were born in D.C. think tanks years earlier. In fact, potential GOP nominee Newt Gingrich served on the Hart-Rudman Commission which promoted the idea of the DHS in 1998. These ideas were pre-planned and simply needed a vehicle in which to implement them. 9/11 was the vehicle.
Back to the Afghan pullout issue. The TAPI pipeline has not been completed yet, however, progress is underway. Pakistan and India are the main drivers and have recently made significant progress. One of the sticking points is U.S. involvement in Afghanistan and the Taliban position on it. In other words, we are now in the way of getting this done. Thus, the moving up of our withdrawal from the region. I don’t think the Panetta leak was a gaffe at all. It’s intended for the Taliban and all the other interested parties in order to satisfy their urging for us to get out-of-the-way so they can proceed. The Taliban and Pakistan have been in bed together for a long time and Pakistan needs the gas as does India.
Many people make the mistake in thinking that the U.S. is there to take their oil and gas. The same mistake was made in Iraq. We aren’t there to steal energy or other natural resources such as rare earth minerals. We are there to secure access for global markets to deny our superpower competitors control. That’s part crony-capitalism as many U.S. corporations stand to benefit around the globe and part security in ensuring that Russia doesn’t control the world markets. China is much more of a consumer than a supplier (except in rare earth minerals) and doesn’t present the supply threat that Russia does.
If you need a reason as to why Iran is center stage right now, look no further. Their nuclear ambitions? That is the ‘opportunity’ our government needs. Iran is geographically located in a pivotal area for energy access including pipeline routes. We can’t allow Russia to control Iran unimpeded as they are looking at all their options for controlling the Caspian Sea region. Remember the ‘forgotten’ invasion of Georgia of 2008 in which we stood by idly? The President has already outlined our shifting strategic defense initiatives and you can include North Africa in the future conflict list as we move to secure access to Nigerian oil.
You can get caught up in the debate over Iran obtaining a nuke, but you’ll be missing the main show if you do. We live in an era of a global war over energy and natural resources control and need to keep that in mind at all times when we weigh out what importance regional events play in the big picture. The superpowers all realize it. The think-tankers are all working overtime on how to win it as the events of the next several years are being played out endlessly right now. That’s not conspiratorial. That’s just reality.