Wednesday, November 11, 2009

"Afghanistan is about a pipeline"

If there is one benefit to being single-income (and there are very few of those to be had in this day and age) it is when my wife calls or emails about something amusing she's seen on one of the shows she watches. This time around, I guess Woody Harrelson was on The View to plug his latest movie. Since his character in that film is a soldier, and since Harrelson is an outspoken war critic, the conversation got briefly political. It didn't stay that way for long. One of the ladies on the show asks him about his thoughts on Afghanistan, and he puts it about as bluntly as I have:
"Afghanistan is about a pipeline."

Let's just say there was an uncomfortable silence for a couple seconds, before the topic got changed. The moral of the story, I suppose, if that if you don't want frightening answers, don't ask frightening questions.

Here's the video clip:



The relevant soundbite can be found around 2:25-2:32 into the video clip. The moment can be summed up in a word: awkward. And yet, we should remind ourselves that it doesn't take an actor to point out the obvious:
The commitment to invade Afghanistan was made long before 9/11.

The Bush Administration wanted to secure for American energy companies-notably the Enron and Unocal Corporations-the strategic pipeline route across Afghanistan to the Caspian Basin. But the Taliban had signed a contract in 1996 with the Bridas Corporation of Argentina, preempting the route.

Scarcely settled in Washington in early 2001, the Bush Administration immediately pressed the Taliban to rescind the Bridas contract, and undertook planning for military intervention should negotiations fail. Administration officials and the Taliban met for talks three times throughout the spring and summer, in Washington D.C., Berlin, and Islamabad-but to no avail.

At the last session, in August, 2001 the Administration threatened a "carpet of bombs" if the Taliban did not comply. The Taliban would not. Soon thereafter-still weeks before September 11-President Bush notified Pakistan and India he would attack Afghanistan "before the end of October."

Then 9/11. Then two more refusals of Osama bin Laden's head. Then, on October 7, the Bush Administration looses the carpet of bombs.

Since then Afghanistan has been supplied with a puppet government, the Bridas contract is history, and the country is dotted today with permanent U.S. military bases in close proximity to the pipeline route. It was a war of conquest and occupation.
It's about a pipeline - and one way or another we're going to see more blood spilled in the not-too-distant future over a pipeline. Even better yet, this isn't exactly breaking news - folks were calling the opening salvo in the "War on Terror" what it really was - a raw power play - right from the beginning.

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