Afghanistan, the graveyard of empires or just a graveyard with a pipeline running through it?

William Bowles

“The US does not need a final victory over the Talibs. Despite their widely advertized ferocious conflict, the US and the Talibs manage to coexist quite successfully in Afghanistan…”[1]

Come on folks, it’s just good sense, there is no way the Empire can actually win the war in Afghanistan. As I have stated before it’s not about ‘winning’ but occupation. Afghanistan is basically a stepping stone on the way to some place else and leaving an oil pipeline behind with a friendly government in place to protect it. Ah, but the best laid plans of mice and men

And this is why it bears no comparison to the idiotic occupation that the Soviets got sucked into, except for the slaughter of course. But from a strategic and economic perspective, along with Iran, Pakistan and India, Afghanistan commands the entrance to East Asia and there’s gold in them thar hills!

Just as with Iraq, Afghanistan has been turned into a garrison state, hence the strategic ‘retreat’ into the cities that has been proposed by the ISAF consiglieri. It’s basically screw the peasants, let ’em rot, as long as we can hold the centre ie, Kabul and a couple of other strategically important towns, why waste ammo and lose, by comparison with the number of Afghan deaths, and what is for a war, a small number of ISAF fatalities (230 UK troops).

But remember, one Western death is considered to be the equivalent to a lot of ‘ragheads’, ‘gooks’ or whatever dehumanizing derogative derives from the latest slaughter. So as far as the Western public is concerned a few hundred ISAF/USUK/NATO deaths translates to maybe thousands having died? Whatever, having the citizens on the side of the Empire is vitally important!

“The figures suggest opposition to the war has risen sharply over the past couple of weeks, a period that has seen the Karzai election debacle, and the deaths of five British soldiers.

“Over a third of people, 35 per cent, think British troops should be withdrawn immediately, compared with 25 per cent a fortnight ago.

“And overall, almost three-quarters, 73 per cent, want troops out now or within a year. And strikingly, 57 per cent think victory is no longer possible.” — Snowmail Email, Chan.4 TV, 5 November, 2009

Think of it this way: the road maybe long and full of potholes but as long as the bridge stands they can get over it.[2] Afghanistan is the bridge and just one piece in a strategic jigsaw that’s been in the works getting on for a couple of centuries.

The point is, what do we mean when we say ‘getting out of Afghanistan’? Just look at Iraq, who talks about Iraq anymore (unless there’s some horrendous car bombing that kills enough to make the headlines). The state/media acts as if it’s all over bar the shouting; they don’t talk about it, there is simply no mention of USUK occupation forces in Iraq.

The point is they are there and they are there to stay. The strategy maybe different, circumstances determine how the occupier deploys its forces.

So okay, for the sake of argument, all the troops leave Iraq/Afghanistan/Pakistan? What will they leave behind? Shattered, broken, mostly former countries or the shells of one. Many of the countries Western capitalism has gotten into since the fall of the Soviet Union, have been broken up and turned to shit (Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, for starters). But this is the point! Chaos as an imperial strategy.

This is the legacy of thirty years of ‘free market’ capitalism.

The point is, they will still be there, economically, politically and of course militarily even if using proxy forces (trained, equipped and led by the ‘former’ occupiers). It all comes down to the same thing. As long as they have a ‘government’ in place that does as its told and doesn’t mess with who owns what, they’ll live with that, as long as they can sell it back home, to us of course.

The occupation is about three objectives: 1) Opening up markets for the West previously denied them and 2) taking out and/or ‘containing’ the competition ie Russia and China and 3) resources.

From the Western perspective, the real war is being fought here. Compare the war that the UK fought and won in Malaya with Afghanistan; they slugged it out in the jungle for years, using techniques that were later used in Vietnam. That war was about suppressing the Communist guerillas, or more generically, destroying Communism wherever it appeared to be gaining ground. And because of the Cold War and anti-Communism and the threat of nuclear Armageddon, they were able to sell all their wars to their public.

That was the pretext for ‘being there’ then but without the Commies what other reason could be invented for going there when the need arises? The problem with this course of action is that a new enemy had to be invented (at least the old enemy actually existed) in order to actually go there.

Enter the ‘War on Terror’, whose launch day, coincidentally, was September 11, 2001. It’s worth noting that nothing on the scale of 9/11 has happened in the intervening eight years. In fact in the US, aside from a lot of alleged plots to do this and that, absolutely nothing has happened. The only actual post-9/11 act that killed people, the Anthrax attack, was an ‘inside job’.

The ‘War on Terror’ is getting to look like the ‘War on Drugs’ (an abject failure if ever there was one) and difficult to sell to a public that gets up close and personal with every (Western) death via our ubiquitous media prison.

It ain’t going well for the Empire, they’re kinda caught in a trap of their own making having sold us on the idea that we were going there for some noble ideal (oh those women-hating Taliban etc), an ideal that now visibly lies in tatters in Helmand Province and elsewhere no matter how the BBC spins it at us (Operation Panther’s Claw? Who comes up with these dumb names?).

What is critical here and why the BBC makes a big thing of ‘our boys over there’ is that it’s gotten so bad ‘over there’ that it is no longer (was it ever?) about Western deaths. I mean G Brown’s pathetic bleating about defending the White Cliffs of Dover over there, went down like a lead balloon (and evidently he felt it necessary to repeat the lie yesterday, see below).

So look, it now seems that the tactic du jour is just not to be there, well not be seen being there, that’s the objective. If by some miracle, they can get an ‘Afghan’ Army together enough and in one place at the same time (and pointing in the same direction, see ‘Taliban link to shootings probed’), then all their problems are over, they hope.

The Afghans can go on shooting each other with weapons supplied by the West and the West can get on with business, that’s the theory. But it costs money being there and you have to do it in style, not with a lot of old Land Rovers with bits of steel bolted to the sides. Afghanistan ain’t Malaya, Cyprus, Aden, or Kenya, nor is it done in a situation such as existed back then.

This is the UK’s problem, in punching well above their weight it illustrates perhaps more than anything else why it’s not about ‘winning’ but simply being there that’s important.

The Taliban might have initiated the war of national liberation but I think the situation has moved well beyond them with many more people joining the resistance not only because we are slaughtering them in their thousands, but none of the billions in ‘aid’ that was meant to ‘win their hearts and minds’ has ever reached them.

The only cash crop the country has in abundance is the Poppy. A crop that’s worth (in Western countries anyway, who knows how much to those thousands of subsistance farmers who grow the stuff) $65 billion a year and it has to leave the country somehow.

But one can guess at the numbers of Westerners in the so-called International Stabilization Force plus all the hangers-on, the ‘civilian contractors’ (what a euphemism for a hired gun), the innumerable NGOs, the UN and so forth, and of course let’s not leave out the CIA, who are hooked into the opium trade (just as they were in the ‘Golden Triangle’ with the CIA’s Air America doing the runs).[3]

But obviously the occupiers are not there to clean up the opium trade except insofar as it serves as a piece of propaganda for domestic consumption. And bleating about the Taliban’s treatment of women rings hollow when the occupiers are backing a government that legalizes marital rape.

The ‘election’ farce is a replay of the US experience in Vietnam when the CIA finally ‘neutralized’ the puppet Diem (their man in Saigon) and I wouldn’t mind betting that if things don’t work out with Karzai that he might get ‘neutralized’ as well.[4]

The degree of desperation in the UK is evident from the following,

“The UK will not be "deterred, dissuaded or diverted" from its Afghan mission, despite the risks posed to troops, Gordon Brown is expected to say.

“The comments come after five soldiers were killed in Helmand on Tuesday by a policeman being trained by UK forces.

“The prime minister will say in a speech the mentoring [sic] must continue "because it is what distinguishes a liberating army from an army of occupation".” — ‘Afghan mission will go on - Brown’, BBC News, 6 November, 2009

Contrast this with what G Brown’s was telling us a couple of days ago,

“The British military blamed Tuesday's attack in Helmand on a "rogue" Afghan policeman, but the UK PM said possible Taliban involvement was being examined.” — ‘Taliban link to shootings probed’, BBC News, 6 November, 2009

These oafs can’t make their minds up about who exactly they are fighting.

“…the government says the Afghan mission is vital to ensuring al-Qaeda does not increase its powers, and will therefore help improve the UK's defences against terrorist attacks.


“He is expected to predict that the "heroism" of personnel currently serving in Afghanistan will be taught to future generations "just as in the past we learned of the bravery and sacrifice of British soldiers in the First and Second World Wars".” — ‘Afghan mission will go on - Brown’, BBC News, 6 November, 2009

This is the worst kind of jingoism that taps into every prejudice people in the West have and reinforced virtually every day with some reference to previous imperial wars ie, the endless re-running of war movies and documentaries on TV.

So just who are we fighting in Afghanistan ‘al-Qu’eda’ or the Taliban? What difference does it make as long as it serves the purpose of justifying why we are there. Just how slaughtering Afghans reduces the risks of terrorist attacks in the UK is explained as follows:

“Mr Brown reiterated his belief that the main terrorist threat to the UK continues to emanate from Afghanistan and Pakistan, saying anyone who questioned why UK troops were in Afghanistan should reflect on the terrorist atrocities since 2001.” — ‘Afghan mission will go on - Brown’, BBC News, 6 November, 2009

Of course this is not the reason given when we invaded the country in 2001.

“To be truthful about it, there was no way we could have got the public consent to have suddenly launched a campaign on Afghanistan but for what happened on September 11.” — Tony Blair, 17 July, 2002, ‘This war on terrorism is bogus’, Michael Meacher, The Guardian, 6 September, 2003

“CentGas can not begin construction [of an oil pipeline] until an internationally recognized Afghanistan Government is in place.” — "U.S. Interests in the Central Asian Republics", 12 February, 1998

‘A former Pakistani diplomat has told the BBC that the US was planning military action against Osama Bin Laden and the Taleban even before last week's attacks [on the World Trade Center]. Niaz Naik, a former Pakistani Foreign Secretary, was told by senior American officials in mid-July that military action against Afghanistan would go ahead by the middle of October. Mr Naik said US officials told him of the plan at a UN-sponsored international contact group on Afghanistan which took place in Berlin. The wider objective, according to Mr Naik, would be to topple the Taleban regime and install a transitional government of moderate Afghans in its place - possibly under the leadership of the former Afghan King Zahir Shah. Mr Naik was told that Washington would launch its operation from bases in Tajikistan, where American advisers were already in place. He was told that Uzbekistan would also participate in the operation and that 17,000 Russian troops were on standby. Mr Naik was told that if the military action went ahead it would take place before the snows started falling in Afghanistan, by the middle of October at the latest.’ — "US 'planned attack on Taleban'", BBC News, 18 September 2001.


1. Andrei KONUROV, US Objectives in Afghanistan
‘The US has deployed 19 military bases in Afghanistan and Central Asian countries since the war began in October, 2001. These bases function autonomously from the surrounding space, are networked by airlifts, and get supplies from outside of Afghanistan, also mostly by air. The system of bases makes it possible for the US to exert military pressure on Russia, China, and Iran… The US does not need a final victory over the Talibs. Despite their widely advertized ferocious conflict, the US and the Talibs manage to coexist quite successfully in Afghanistan…’ Strategic Culture Foundation, 3 September, 2009
2. See ‘US objectives’ above.
3. CIA-assisted plot to overthrow Laos foiled -Former Air America/CIA asset Vang Pao arrested, by Larry Chin, Global Research, 6 June, 2007.
For Air America, you gotta go to the best source of information on the subject, the CIA itself. Reams of FOIA docs on Air America down the decades.
4. See ‘JFK and the Diem Coup’, By John Prados, November 5, 2003

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This article has generously been brought to our attention by Sarah Meyer of INDEX RESEARCH.


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