Afghanistan: Is it all about terrorism?

No region of the world has more strategic value to powerful U.S. transnational corporations and the military industrial complex than the arc of countries stretching from the Middle East to Central and South Asia. If wars are going to be fought in the 21st century, the probability of them occurring in this region is high.

And the reasons are simple. If you are thinking terrorist actions (which are as much an effect as a cause of the instability in this part of the globe) are the explanation, you just failed the quiz. If on the other hand, your answer is oil and China, you aced it. Together they give this far-flung territory its strategic importance.

Control of the region's vast oil supply assures a steady flow of this critical but finite natural resource (without which the world economy would grind to a halt), stratospheric profits for the U.S. corporate energy complex, and enormous strategic leverage over foes (and friends) alike.

As for China, this vast country is the main strategic competitor to U.S. capitalism in the 21st century. If U.S. economic and political power is in decline (and I think it is), China's power is on the rise, thus making necessary - in the eyes of the corporate-energy-military crowd - an array of U.S. allied or client states bordering and hemming in China, whose energy needs not unimportantly are vast.

I say all this because listening to the conversation about Afghanistan in the media, one would think that this battered country has no strategic value, that the war is only about combating al-Qaeda and the Taliban. But is this the case? It is true that Afghanistan is not a major oil or gas producer like petro states in the region, (although some oil fields were recently discovered whose size is still unknown), but does it follow that securing control of this country is of no significance strategically for U.S. ruling circles? Don't think so!

For one thing, it shares a border with China. For another thing, it sits in a region that is both in equal measure the main source of oil production and very unstable. Thus from the standpoint of powerful interests in our country, turning Afghanistan into a friendly and reliable regime is considered of strategic importance. It could give, for example, the U.S. military the ability to project power to one or another country in that region in a matter of minutes.

Thus the $64,000 question is: How much blood, treasure, and goodwill in the Muslim world are we ready to sacrifice in this military occupation in order to establish a pro-U.S. government in that country? We know that U.S. ruling circles are not of one mind. Some are ready for the long haul, while others are reluctant to make that kind of commitment to what already is protracted occupation. President Obama, it appears and in contrast to his right-wing Republican counterparts, leans in the direction of extricating ourselves in the relatively near term. Among other things, he is certainly mindful of the negative impact of the Vietnam quagmire on the presidency of Lyndon Johnson.

As for the U.S. people, they are tiring of this occupation. Many are ready to bring the troops home expeditiously and give space to the United Nations and governments in the region, including representatives of the Afghani people, to sit down and search for a negotiated settlement that will bring some measure of peace, democracy, independence and development to the country.

In electing President Obama the hope was that we would begin to turn away from policies of aggression, sanctions, blockade and interference. His first months in office were promising as he eloquently made the case for a new foreign policy. And he has taken a number of steps in that direction. Nevertheless, too many of his actions have contradicted his words and intentions. It has also become clear that a powerful bloc of interests in Congress and the White House, the Pentagon, right-wing extremists, the military and energy complexes, conservative foreign policy lobbies, security agencies, etc., are resisting all or any but the smallest adjustments in our country's role in the world arena.

Saying this doesn't let the president off the hook as far as Afghanistan is concerned; no one else is as well positioned to redirect our foreign policy along the lines that he earlier articulated, but it will take courage to "break from the pack."

Whether he does will depend in no small measure on the peace and people's movement, and to be fair too many among us have been a little asleep at the switch on this. Mass sentiments against the Afghanistan war are one thing, but unless organized those sentiments will have a minimal impact on the administration's policy, including its positive initiatives.


Post your comment

Comments are moderated. See guidelines here.


  • It is indeed obvious that there has always been a hidden agenda behind the attacks on Afghanistan and why the war has been going on for many years now. And we all know it isn't terrorism. Afghanistan is not known for oil supply which makes the subliminal reason behind the attacks to perceptibly be many reasons which are imperial dominance, authority and supremacy revelation, retaliation and even self-regarding showcase of power. All these factors add up to further exasperate the already enraged and threatened Al-Qaeda members and the Soviet Union which then cause them to defend themselves but is regarded as an act of terrorism. The root of the problem lies in the U.S. ruling but is always being pictured by the media as only performing "counter-terrorism" practices.

    Posted by Fred Rodriguez, 12/07/2012 2:55am (3 years ago)

  • Posted by E.E.W.Clay, 02/10/2010 5:04pm (6 years ago)

  • This article needs more depth.
    The information supplied in the PW is a good place to start. Rummel,Susan Webb,Al Fishman,Prasad,and others have much to say,not only about how Afghan war is not about terrorism,but is about dope,military adventurism,contempt for peaceful overtures,genocide, and indeed,fueling terrorism itself,for profit sake,for imperialist empire seekers.
    President Obama's "plans for extrication" fly in the face of an overall illogic spelt out in both his untenable speeches in Oslo and at Academy.From his "reasonings" here and there,his "plans" are non-sequiturs. We should not contrast these from right, extremist,designs when they practically fit.
    Neither should we see this problem in foreign policy as isolated from a,in many ways,promising Obama domestic policy.
    The contradictory tailing of his constiuency that the Obama administration may be acting out in "fighting terrorism" in Afgan shows that the administration needs the work of the organized millions and more millions who need no Xes,but in contrast need: enfrancisement,jobs,unionization,equal protection and freedom in law,health care,and environmental justice and peace to survive.
    This includes all U.S. citizenry and constiuencies.
    What is the environmental justice of war,when we all live on the same planet,perishing with no peace?
    How can we speak to world citizenry and constiuencies,as Oslo hoped,when we don't protect our own?
    We "hope" that our President is not"Breaking from the Pack" of his working-class constiuency and "Breaking to the Pack"of the imperialist empire dope pushers in Afganistan-we can't suffer nor survive it.

    Posted by , 02/10/2010 5:02pm (6 years ago)

  • The U.S. ruling class sent weapons in to Afghanistan also to try to hem in the Soviet Union after the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan invited in the Soviet Union to help fight the mujahideen. The DRA requested Soviet troops to provide security and to assist in the fight against the mujahideen. The resultant blowback from Al quida can be traced to America's hatred of Communism and the Soviet Union. And now America is once again playing the dangerous game for oil that will come back to haunt us in the future. Only mass demonstrations and a strong peace and peoples movment can bring an end to this madness. It was done during the Vietnam war and it can be done now.

    Posted by Red Grandad, 02/10/2010 1:42am (6 years ago)

  • Surprise! Surprise! Barack Obama is the spokesman for Wall Street's imperialist interests. I notice the term "U.S. imperialism" is not even used in this essay by this esteemed leader of the CPUSA. Interesting. No mention of what the American people need to do to end this imperialist war. More apologies for Obama. Is he really interested in getting out of Afghanistan or occupying Afghanistan? Mr. Webb, as he campaigned for Obama, ignored Obama's campaign promise to expand the war in Afghanistan. It will take a much broader and more militant peace movement than what existed during the Vietnam War if we are going to end these imperialist wars. This requires linking other issues like the need for jobs and healthcare to the need to end these imperialist wars. How can we end these wars and broaden the peace movement without explaining the imperialist nature of these wars? How do we stop these wars while urging support for Obama as Sam Webb continues to do because in supporting Obama this adds legitimacy to his wars.

    Posted by Don Reston, 02/09/2010 2:20pm (6 years ago)

  • This analysis is more clear than others I have seen that are similar. However, Afghanistan is poorly suited as a place from which to "project power." It is land-locked and lacks the most basic infrastructure needed.

    There are important sectors of the military-industrial complex who have a strongly vested interest in continuing this war for its own sake, and theirs. I think it's important to see this because the ruling class is NOT united on this policy, as Sam Webb notes, but more digging is needed to uncover the roots of the differences.

    More importantly, the lack of any real strategic value undermines the arguments of the ultra-right and potentially isolates them, in my opinion, from the people and the dominant sectors of capital as well. The comparison with Vietnam is very apt, and a repetition of that disaster is against the interests of the United States ruling class and people, both.

    Posted by Ted Pearson, 02/08/2010 3:42pm (6 years ago)

  • We must resist President Obama's continued belligerence against Afghanistan, Pakistan, Cuba, and Latin America in general. While many positive attitude changes have come with Obama in the White House, we must demand a total abandonment of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, an end to drone attacks, an end to the blockade against our Cuban brothers and sisters, and an end to continued intereference in Colombia and Latin America at large.

    We can force change to happen. At least President Obama is somewhat more receptive than Bush. I hope that the Party is planning to join the marches on Washington on March 19th and 20th.

    Posted by Michael Kowalchuk, 02/08/2010 3:32pm (6 years ago)

  • Don't you think that he narcotics trade should be added to the mix of transnational interests in Afghanistan ?cla

    Posted by Emil Shaw, 02/08/2010 12:55pm (6 years ago)

RSS feed for comments on this page | RSS feed for all comments