Classic WHY: The Real Reason for the Afghan War? - WhoWhatWhy

Classic WHY: The Real Reason for the Afghan War?

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This article originally appeared on WhoWhatWhy in September, 2012


When the United States decided to invade Afghanistan to grab Osama bin Laden—and failed, but stayed on like an unwanted guest—could it have known that the Afghans were sitting on some of the world’s greatest reserves of mineral wealth?

We’ve raised this topic before (see here)—where we noted the dubious 2010 claim, published by the New York Times, that “the vast scale of Afghanistan’s mineral wealth was [recently] discovered by a small team of Pentagon officials and American geologists.” Other evidence, and logic, point to the fact that everyone but the Western public knew for a long time, and before the 2001 invasion, that Afghanistan was a treasure trove.

So we were interested to see a new piece from the Times that emphasizes those riches without stressing the crucial question: Was the original impetus for the invasion really Osama—or Mammon?

The failure to pose this question is significant because the pretense of a “recent discovery” serves only to justify staying in Afghanistan now that the troops are already there—while ignoring the extent to which imperial-style resource grabs are the real drivers of foreign policy and wars, worldwide.

As long as we continue to dance around that issue, we will remain mired in disaster of both a financial and mortal nature. As long as we fail to tote up who are the principal winners and losers then we fail to understand what is going on.

Some of the least likely candidates for insight are waking up. To quote Alan Greenspan: “I’m saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil.” Who will say the same about Afghanistan and its mineral wealth? Once we acknowledge whatGeneral Wesley Clark claims (and which the media keeps ignoring)—that he was told the U.S. had plans ready at the time of the 9/11 attacks to invade seven countries (including Iraq and Afghanistan)– then the larger picture begins to come into view.

At this point, we can’t help but revisit our WhoWhatWhy exclusive tying the 9/11 hijackers to that very reliable U.S. ally, the Saudi royal family— which itself needs constant external war and strife throughout the Middle East to keep its citizens from focusing on its own despotism and staggering corruption, and to maintain its position as an indispensable ally of the West in these wars. It was the actions of the Saudi-dominated 9/11 hijackers and their Saudi sponsor, Osama bin Laden, that created the justification for this endless series of resource wars. So, learning that the hijackers themselves may have been sponsored by, or controlled by elements of the Saudi royal family is a pretty big deal.

Nevertheless, the Times plays a key role in sending us in the wrong direction:

If there is a road to a happy ending in Afghanistan, much of the path may run underground: in the trillion-dollar reservoir of natural resources — oil, gold, iron ore, copper, lithium and other minerals — that has brought hopes of a more self-sufficient country, if only the wealth can be wrested from blood-soaked soil.

So, according to the world’s most influential opinion-making outlet, the fact of Afghanistan’s mineral wealth has nothing to do with why the United States and its allies want to stay—and why others want us to leave. No, we are told, it is just a fortuitous “discovery” that can benefit the Afghans themselves, make them “self-sufficient.” If only it can be extracted…..

Of course, this narrative continues, the suffering Afghans can only be helped to become self-sufficient if enough long-term military and technical might is applied to the country.

We’d love to see more reporting from The Times about what Western companies knew and when they knew it. Instead, we see JPMorgan Chase’s Afghan venture mentioned, in passing, between references to efforts by the Chinese to get their piece of the action:

Already this summer, the China National Petroleum Corporation, in partnership with a company controlled by relatives of President Karzai, began pumping oil from the Amu Darya field in the north. An investment consortium arranged by JPMorgan Chase is mining gold. Another Chinese company is trying to develop a huge copper mine. Four copper and gold contracts are being tendered, and contracts for rare earth metals could be offered soon.

The truth is, as long as the Chinese and Russians are cut in on the deal, their objections to military actions that enrich oligarchs everywhere are likely to be muted.

Imperial militaries exist in large part to grab and hold resources vital to the continuance of empires, while their paymasters back home reap benefits. That includes the rest of us, who must balance the security and creature comforts this approach provides against the death and destruction it inevitably entails. And we can’t begin to do the moral calculus until we acknowledge what’s being done in our name around the world, and why.

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0 responses to “Classic WHY: The Real Reason for the Afghan War?”

  1. Avatar peedee says:

    Neither the Taliban nor the Afghan people had anything WHATSOEVER to do with Sep11, although it could be said that after the Taliban met with Cheney’s Energy Policy Committtee cronies in Houston in 1997 under Bush Jr, and presented the Soviet geological reports of world class oil, gas, iron, coke, copper, manganese, uranium, thorium, tin, and yes, lithium, and Cheney made them an ‘offer you can’t refuse, either accept our carpet of gold, or we will carpet you with bombs’ … and the Taliban chose to defend their nation instead, a nation older than the United States, let’s be honest, that’s when Bush said ‘Let’s Roll’. It takes six months of planning for a mission of that size, and backing out from October 2001, Bush and Cheney had given the GO order right after Easter, 2001.

    Think about that. Thousands of our young men and women died, and ONE TRILLION dollars of our last life savings spirited away to WADC-NOVA, now the wealthiest region of the Americas, and while spoils of war did we get in return? NADA.

    All the resources went to India and China, despite $10s of BILLIONS in bribes made to Karzai by Rice and Clinton, we got NOTHING out of this except our National Police State.

    Who wants to be the last American soldier to die protecting an Afghanistan Mafia, and the resource leaseholds of Chindians?

  2. Avatar NABNYC says:

    Afghanistan is the world’s largest exporter of heroin and hashish. Now, the drug trade is controlled by “our” guys, who presumably pay enormous amounts to Wall Street and U.S. politicians as kick-backs. Just like the U.S. invaded Columbia and stayed, spending years to wipe out the competing drug trafficking groups. It’s the most likely reason: control the drug trade, and get a big chunk of the income from that “industry.”

  3. Avatar hansolo14 says:

    Unfortunately, their were no hijackers! Part of the US media, fragmentation, you can’t fully get the whole picture!

  4. Avatar ICFubar says:

    Mineral resources, an oil pipeline from the Caucusses to Pakistan and India for the resource extractors, opium for the drug cartels, financial cartels and to fund CIA covert off the books operations just about sums it up except for the Afghans. The Afghan oligarch will become very wealthy selling the nation’s assests for cheap and for some Afghani’s, they might see some trickle down, might.

    Geo politically this puts the American Empire sitting at the belly of Russia and on the western shoulder of China and probably with nuclear missiles to be aimed at both countries, as a defensive shield of course and not for a totally incapacitating first strike of course should these two not fall in line with the Empire’s world domination agenda.

  5. Avatar KeepAmericaFree17 says:

    What about the opium? Production went throught the roof as soon as the warmongers got full control of the fields.

    • Avatar Whiznot says:

      Opium is the reason why the Russians invaded and it’s why the US stayed for over a decade after the mission was accomplished. Karzai’s brother was on the CIA payroll and he controlled the opium production. The Afghan war is similar to the wars for control of opium in Southeast Asia waged first by the British followed by the French and the USA.

    • Avatar KeepAmericaFree17 says:

      As I suspected. Strange no mention was given to it in the article. Thanks.

    • Avatar sgtdoom says:

      Oh wow, talk about rewriting history. So that time Brzezinski appear on French radio and spilled the beans on the presidential directive to destabilize the once-secular government of Afghanistan (with the aid of Saudi Arabia, moving Wahabist religious extremists to their northern border, which had been chiefly populated by the moderate Sufi Islamic worshippers) had nothing to do with anything, huh?

  6. Avatar COTO says:

    Africom Djibouti, Saudi Arabia and Yemen. From points outward the same empire has been playing the risk board. The real axis of evil in the three superpowers has been going after the sovereign nations since the industrial age. Afghan poppy is a cash crop and certainly what’s underground plays a role too. Like monopoly some are Park Place others Baltic Avenue. Geopolitical corridors are indeed a factor. The Islamic Pipeline and Saudi’s plans don’t mix well. Africa is the big game coming and Libya and Qaddafi were definitely a barrier as was the OAU back in it’s day. Obama’s green austerity speech in Africa says it all. No AC for Africans but the UKUSA group, NATO and Gladio have plans for it. Lebanon should be in the mix with Syria and Angola needs to have some false flag terror event soon to get their chemical weapons and US hegemony’s foot in the door. It’s no secret how western intelligence destroyed the Soviets. Anyone think it’s out turn after we have done the dirty work for the IMF-World and Central Banks?

  7. Avatar gordon phinn says:

    Okay Russ, argument accepted, as it was when first printed, but what resource(s) are we after in Syria? And what about that old story about a gas pipeline coming through Syria from points south, to supply the EU and others with cheaper natural gas than Russia? Friends tell me Assad said NO! to that sometime back, to please Russia one assumes. And is now getting his just desserts. But wait, just today, a deal is getting made…

    • Avatar ICFubar says:

      Israel has recently had the good fortune to have had a huge gas field discovery made (Leviathan field) in her waters and would also like to supply Europe. As would the Iranians, with their line passing through Syria. As the corporatocracy, which goes by the name of U.S. interests, being still very pissed at Iran for dumping their puppet (Shaw) and mucking uo their bottom lines, you can see why Syria must be Balkanized like Iraq has been. Other factors play into the same theme…

  8. Avatar Another skeptic says:

    Although you will likely dismiss such suggestions as mere fantasy, this would be a good time to re-think the alleged role of those Saudi hijackers. Far less outlandish than the notion of a Pentagon-organized plot to murder JFK (but likewise proven) is the obvious recognition that, no matter how hard you try, jet fuel will never topple a steel skyscraper, much less make it disintegrate into its own footprint. Who? What? Why?.