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Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Afghanistan becomes Obama’s war

On Tuesday morning, President Barack Obama announced the deployment of 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan. Since taking office, Obama has already sent 21,000 additional troops in April and quietly deployed 13,000 more in October.Without a doubt, Afghanistan has become Obama’s war. Perhaps in the near future it will be viewed as his Achilles’ heel.
The question is: why? What are the real goals for occupying the country?
The stated objectives are clear. We need to stop terrorism overseas to prevent 9/11-like attacks here at home. In his momentous speech to the Muslim world in Cairo in June, Obama said, “We would gladly bring every single one of our troops home if we could be confident that there were not violent extremists in Afghanistan, and now Pakistan, determined to kill as many Americans as they possibly can.”
Yet the findings of the 9/11 Commission Report show that the attack was planned and carried out by al-Qaida operatives in Paris; Hamburg; Falls Church, Va.; and Sarasota, Fla. Furthermore, these operations were funded not by Afghanistan but primarily by Saudi Arabia.
Al-Qaida is a nebulous network. It does not need a home base to operate. As reported by The Washington Post, there remain fewer than 100 members of the group left in Afghanistan. So what are the real motivations behind continuing the eight-year-plus occupation of the country?
The views of Obama advisers such as Zbigniew Brzezinski expose the veiled truth. In an interview with PBS, Brzezinski, the former national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter said that he is “not an energy expert, but just using common sense and the knowledge available to all of us, it seems to [him] evident we’re going to be dependent on natural gas and oil for some decades to come, even if we do things that we need
to do.”
It makes logical, imperial sense for the United States to expand its empire in these areas, in what Brzezinski labels as “the Global Balkans.” As suggested by Brzezinski, “for us to have a strong position in the Middle East and the Persian Gulf is not only an economic necessity; it’s potentially a source of enormous strategic leverage on others.”
Although Afghanistan is not a fossil-fuel giant like Iraq, its geographical position is consequential for the world’s energy order. There exist valuable deposits of oil and natural gas in Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan, all of which either border or are in close proximity to Afghanistan.
As of April 2008, the U.S. brokered a deal between India and Turkmenistan over Caspian resources. The Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline, if successfully negotiated and constructed, will allow Turkmenistan’s natural gas to flow via pipeline through Afghanistan and Pakistan and into India by 2015. Such a possibility explains the intensity of geopolitics in the region. The deal isolates Iran and its ability to market its gas abroad.
In what has been dubbed the “Af-Pak war,” the state of Pakistan is now intricately involved in U.S. Overseas Contingency Operations. The Pentagon is surely eyeing Balochistan, the southern-most state of Pakistan, which is rich in natural resources and contains three Arabian seaports. As reported by Jeremy Scahill at The Nation magazine, Xe Services, the company formerly known as Blackwater, has been actively assassinating targets in Karachi, a port city just east of Balochistan. Ensuring that government officials of these vital seaports are pro-Western will be vital for future pipeline and shipping agreements.
It is bad enough that U.S. Af-Pak policies are masked behind counterfeit altruism, but what is even more embarrassing is that these policies are failing miserably. The corrupt re-election of Hamid Karzai, and Obama’s endorsement of it are examples of where the war in Afghanistan is headed. More failures will be celebrated and more mistakes will be
The facts on the ground are foreboding. In 2002, there were 5,200 U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. By the end of Obama’s surge, there will be more than 100,000. The war casualties, particularly IED fatalities, are rising exponentially, with 2009 going on record as the bloodiest year to date. 
As journalist Dahr Jamail has written, the Median and Persian empires, Alexander the Great, the Seleucids, the Indo-Greeks, the Turks, the Mongols, the British and the Soviets all failed to conquer and occupy Afghanistan. 
Regardless of Obama’s increase, the U.S. will not be the exception.
Daily Texan Columnist

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