The Forever War
The Afghan war is a link in a chain of armed conflicts for world domination.
By Peter Klemm
[This article published on Oct 7, 2021 is translated from the German on the Internet, Der ewige Krieg | Rubikon.]
Build wells? Build girls' schools? Defend our freedom in the Hindu Kush? At the latest since the grandiose failure of the Western Alliance's 20-year Afghanistan mission, even previously very gullible people have suspected it: The pretended reasons for the debacle may not be the real ones. But what are the real motives for the war against one of the poorest countries in the world and what game is being played for us in the foreground? The narratives of the U.S. government cannot and should not be our compass for understanding the world. We must look to the past to understand the present.
In October of 2001, George W. Bush, Jr. bombed Afghanistan, ostensibly because of September 11, the day the Twin Towers collapsed in New York, and to start the war against "terrorists" in Afghanistan. In fact, the war in Afghanistan was planned long before September 11 (1).
Along the way, women's rights were to be strengthened and a Western-style form of government was to be implanted. In fact, according to the U.S.'s own statements, the hijackers of those planes that flew into the World Trade Center towers were primarily Saudis. The docile oil country of Saudi Arabia was never attacked. Democracy and women's rights are a claim whose implementation was as real as the "fight against the Taliban," namely as foreground scenery.
The transformation of proxy wars
Around the year 2000, it had been just 10 years since the U.S. was left as the sole world power after the demise of the Soviet Union. The wars were changing from proxy wars like the Vietnam War to wars over oil and gas, or rather the territories through which pipelines would pass in the future.
"Until August , according to Brisard and Dasquie's assessment, the U.S. government viewed the Taliban 'as guarantors of stability in Central Asia' and assumed that they would 'enable the construction of an oil pipeline through Central Asia.' Only when the Taliban failed to meet U.S. conditions did 'the motive for secure energy supplies turn into a motive for military action'" (1).
Clemens Ronnefeldt also identifies plans for pipeline construction as a "weighty reason for the invasion of Afghanistan."
"A pipeline coming from Turkmenistan was to be built through Afghanistan with branches to Pakistan and India. (...) The Taliban regime changed its mind before 2001 and wanted to give the contract to the Argentine rival company Bridas, which greatly angered the US government. From the Persian Gulf, Iran wanted to lay a pipeline, which has not been built to date, to be extended to India. The U.S. goal is still to prevent this project in order to isolate Iran" (2).
Rainer Rupp made similar comments (3).
I think it was mainly about preventing the construction itself.
Der Spiegel also wrote "a series of reports on the struggle of states and corporations for pipeline routes and military supremacy" (4).
At the time, this was the path to U.S. world domination. "The struggle for control of oil in Central Asia has become the latest chapter in the old rivalry between Russia, the U.S. and Japan" and a "replay of the 'Great Game' in Central Asia in the 19th century between Britain and Russia," writes Paul Sampson, editor of the London-based oil business magazine 'Nefte Compass,'" quoted by infopartisan (5).
Today the theme of the struggle for world domination is changing, without abandoning the above interests:
The Pentagon has targeted China as an economic competitor and gradually everything is subordinated to this goal. This may also be the main reason for the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Let's take the three most important facts, that is, the three narratives about Afghanistan.
The first fact is: wars always follow economic interests.
How else could it be explained that the U.S. has spent the gigantic sum of over .7 trillion on this war (6)?
The war against Afghanistan at that time is correctly described by the very well researched newspaper World Socialist Web Site (WSWS) as a struggle "for access to and control over the oil and gas of Central Asia" (7).
These are the economic interests.
Fact two: The motto then, and still today, is that whoever controls energy flows controls the politics of the dependent states and thus the world.
Energy expert Sheila Heslin said during a hearing before the U.S. Senate in September 1997 that Washington's geostrategic concern was "to break Russia's monopolistic control over the outflow of oil from the region (Central Asia and 'Caspian' space)" (5). This is half the truth; the other is that pipelines were to be built only with the participation, that is, under the control, of U.S. corporations.
Neither India nor China was to get access to the coveted hydrocarbons through independent deals with sovereign states.
This was how the U.S., the only remaining world power, wanted to exercise its dominance after the failure of the Soviet Union: Using military force and lies to bring oil wells and pipeline routes under its control, thereby realizing its plans for world domination. Bill Richardson, Clinton's energy secretary, said that what mattered was "getting the map of politics and the pipeline maps in line." And so it happened.
Remember, as recently as 2000, there was hype regarding oil and gas reserves in the Central Asian region from the Caspian Sea to Kazakhstan. This hype broke down.
We further recall that only two years later, with the same purpose of controlling the oil fields, the war against Iraq began, where the extraction price of oil was only per barrel.
The main purpose of the Syrian war was to prevent gas routes from the largest untapped natural gas field under the Gulf of Persia to Europe. Qatar and Iran had plans to do so.
That hype has given way to more realistic assessments, because for the oil companies it is not the quantity of extractable hydrocarbon that is decisive, but the price of its extraction. And that price is relatively high.
For example, an oil field lies beneath a lake that has no paved road access and dries up in the summer, leaving a muddy landscape. The only way to get the equipment for oil extraction into this impassable terrain is by helicopter, and that is expensive.
In the 1990s, two pipelines were planned: one from the north of Turkmenistan via Afghanistan to the Indian Sea in the south, called TAP, and one, from west to east, from Iran via Pakistan to India, called IPI (8).
The TAP was originally to be built - plans as of 1992 - by the Argentine oil company Bridas, which was, however, booted out by Unocal, a U.S. oil company, with the help of pressure from the U.S. government. In 1998, Unocal backed out. Why? "Economic and security reasons" (9). The civil war made it impossible to build the pipeline. As a result, the Taliban wanted to give the contract to Bridas again, but no one else was to build these pipelines.
So, in fact, the interests of the oil industry as representatives of the total capital of the U.S. were behind the wars, because the U.S. economy is oil-based.
The third fact is that the Taliban won a victory that they were not supposed to win, but it was made easy for them: The Taliban emerged from the mujahideen, who were built up by the United States at the time and hailed as the liberators of Afghanistan from the grip of the Soviet Union. When they retook the country from the Soviets with U.S. help, they kept the weapons, and when they wanted to pursue an independent energy policy, they were foregrounded and turned into "terrorists"-see (1).
The USA used the Taliban for their dirty business and for their own interests not only in the fight against the Soviet Union. The Australian newspaper news answers the question "Where did the Taliban get money and weapons?" on September 1, 2021 like this:
"The Taliban have a .6 billion war chest to fund their fight in Afghanistan, with millions raised through drugs, donations and real estate" (10).
The Independent, a British newspaper, reported at the time that U.S. troops were protecting farmers' poppy fields. Since that time, poppy cultivation by poor farmers increased enormously. The shz reported a record harvest in September 2017 (11).
So, the Taliban were fought in the front of the stage and financially supported behind it by tolerating the road tariffs and especially the poppy cultivation and thus hundreds of millions of US dollars of revenue for them. The infamous civil war game prevented the construction of the pipelines.
The U.S. was never about winning: when the U.S. wanted to win, it sent over 150,000 troops to Iraq (12), and to Afghanistan at its peak only 66,000, which Obama wanted to reduce to 35,000 (13). The issue was a protracted civil war that prevented the construction of pipelines not under U.S. control for more than 20 years. By the time the remaining U.S. troops were withdrawn, they were reduced to about 11,000 troops (14).
Since it was never really about women's rights and about democracy in a feudal country, one should not take this U.S. narrative as a yardstick to reflect on the success or failure of this war.
On the contrary, the construction of the aforementioned pipelines has been successfully prevented to this day, and the IPI, the Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline, has not been built either.
Bridas, the Argentine energy company, was booted out of the planning for the TAP in the 1990s by Unocal, a U.S. oil company that was taken over by Chevron in 2005. Iran, meanwhile, has been weakened by means of brutal sanctions.
But this is the real defeat of the USA: Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India will build the TAPI, a gas pipeline from Turkmenistan near the Caspian Sea directly to India, as sovereign countries starting in 2021 (15). So: mission partially accomplished and partially not!
Germany stands as a vassal with its soldiers at the side of the USA. What other reason would the German government have had to waste over 17 billion euros (16) in Afghanistan?
Foreign Minister Heiko Maas describes the vassalage of the Europeans quite well on August 20, 2021 (17):
"Because the reality is that the Americans decide many things and we follow."
That is a momentous sentence!
To my knowledge, Maas is the only German politician who has said this so clearly.
The cost of war
On June 30, 2021, the organization International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) balanced that at least 238,000 people died in Afghanistan and Pakistan as a direct result of warfare, over 71,000 of them civilians. The actual number of civilian casualties, however, is probably five to eight times higher.
According to aid organizations, 13 million Afghans are acutely threatened by hunger (18).
Since 1992, "59 members of the German Armed Forces have died in Afghanistan, of which 35 members of the German Armed Forces have died due to external causes, and 24 persons have died due to other circumstances" (19).
On August 17, 2021, the Berliner Zeitung reports:
"Twenty (...) years of war in Afghanistan have cost American taxpayers .7 trillion. (... ) To this must be added the funds of the allies in the 'war on terror'. Germany contributed about 17 billion euros to the longest war in U.S. history" (16).
The winners of the war
In addition to the oil companies and the defense contractors, the banking profits stand out.
In 2011, Deutsche Welle reports:
How much the highly indebted America has to bear from the war loans taken out alone can be seen from the sum of 185 billion US dollars that has been accrued in interest so far. By 2020, this sum could still grow to one trillion US dollars (20).
"The U.S. stock market index, Standard and Poor's 500', or S&P 500 for short, which includes 500 major U.S. companies, has increased about sixfold since September 18, 2001, the day U.S. President George W. Bush authorized it. Anyone who invested ,000 in the index then would own ,100 before taxes in August 2021, the 'Intercept' elaborates" (21).
Not a word about the economic interests in this war, not a word about the U.S. government's cronyism with the Taliban.
"The most amazing phenomenon of this war has been the perfectly organized low level of public interest in the war, its casualties, consequences, our Western war crimes, the massacres of our 'allied' warlords, and the costs. Nor is there any question about the people and corporations who made a lot of money from this - highly privatized - war" (22).
The protection of the poppy fields by U.S. troops is largely kept quiet in the German media. It is pretended that the Taliban had dominion over the country. In fact, they were allowed access to the profits of poppy production so that they could fuel the civil war, including against government forces.
As recently as April 10, 2010, Die Welt wrote that the poppy fields should be torched (23).
On August 17, 2017, the Schleswig-Holsteinische Zeitung (shz) noted that the largest opium harvest was expected this year, 2017 (11).
So, the protection of the poppy fields continued, completely independent of the programs and claims put up.
The German government continues its brutal policy of sealing off Germany from refugees.
"There was neither a responsible exit strategy from the mission in Afghanistan nor realistic contingency plans for necessary evacuations. The Left and Greens already demanded an unbureaucratic evacuation of local forces and other threatened people on June 23 - the governing coalition voted against it!
"Afghans who have fought for human rights and democracy in recent years and are therefore now threatened with torture and death are left to their fate and must fear for their lives" (24).
Where do we go from here?
I agree with Clemens Ronnefeldt (2):
"The Taliban's demand is the complete withdrawal of all NATO troops. Even after the (...) end of the NATO mission, mainly smaller military units will remain stationed in neighboring states of Afghanistan in order to be able to intervene militarily from there again in the future via a renewed rapid build-up of troops, if necessary."
What does "if necessary" mean here? It can only mean that the U.S. assures itself of the Taliban government's obedience and allows U.S. corporations into the country:
"Afghanistan - close to Russia and China - is too important geostrategically (...) and also has too many mineral resources to leave it completely from NATO's point of view" (2).
If we write USA instead of NATO - see Maas (17) - this sentence is completely true and also:
"A real peace in Afghanistan (...) remains a Herculean task, where honest brokers (...) like the OSCE (...) will be in demand in the future" (2).
And the Ruhrnachrichten wrote on August 31, 2017:
"As in the past, we will continue to protect sensitive units and certain temporary missions. Congress will continue to be informed about this in closed sessions" (14).
German foreign policy reports on the future of the country on September 14, 2021:
"While corrupt government officials funneled billions of dollars to Dubai under the eyes of the West, the population became visibly impoverished; even before the West's withdrawal, a good half of Afghans were dependent on humanitarian aid. The fact that the aid money stopped flowing after the Taliban came to power and the U.S. put sanctions into effect deals a death blow to the Afghan economy" (25).
What do we want to believe?
Do we want to believe the narratives of the U.S. government and our mainstream media? Then we also believe that the U.S. was about women's rights and democracy in a feudal country. And not at all about the world domination plans of that U.S. imperialism which, in the words of Zbigniew Brzezinski, security advisor to U.S. President Jimmy Carter, had remained as "the only world power" after the fall of the Soviet Union that had written a "strategy of domination" on its banner (26).
If we start from the world domination aspiration of the U.S., then things fall into place nicely.
Sources and Notes
(2) Clemens Ronnefeld Friedensforum 05/2021, Evaluation of the Afghanistan mission.
(3) Rainer Rupp https://apolut.net/11-september-20-jahre-spaeter-von-rainer-rupp/
A reportage series on the struggle of states and corporations for pipeline routes and military supremacy.
(9) wd-1-037-08-pdf (The Scientific Service of the German Parliament)
(24) From a flyer of the Wandsbeker PdL about a VA
(26) Zbigniew Brzezinski The Only World Power: America's Strategy for Domination
Peter Klemm was a teacher for chemistry and physics and has been a trade unionist with ver.di for a few years. Since the Afghanistan war he has been concerned with war issues and especially the influence of the oil industry on wars. Since energy decides everything in society and life, he also devotes himself to energy issues and would like to see the energy and environmental movement merge with the peace movement. He works with attac's Hamburg-based AG Frieden and has given talks on the role of oil and gas in wars at attac summer academies.