This feels like putting lipstick on a war pig. 23,000 troops are coming home by the end of this summer. We’re still going to have troops there into the future except Afghans will be in the lead which is a decade long project. President Obama says we’re going to be completely out of our combat role in 2014…but we had better get used to liking Afghanistan because we’re going to be there for a while.
For all of the pomp and circumstance about bin Laden – no one in America seems to be talking about the TAPI pipeline – a pipeline to bring natural gas and oil and gas from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan to Pakistan and India; no one seems to be talking about Afghanistan’s minerals which the larger countries are all dividing and scooping up for themselves. America’s military involvement is being used to ensure peace and security for businesses to come in and set up shop….and India and China are all on board. Obama is likely extracting concessions from Pakistan, China and India in order to provide necessary resources for their economies…and we maintain a presence in the region for geo-political reasons (HI IRAN!). We’re all just divvying up Afghanistan’s share of the pie amongst ourselves.
“I want you to understand, I know it’s still tough. I know the battle’s not yet over. Some of your buddies are going to get injured and some of your buddies may get killed. And there’s going to be heartbreak and pain and difficulty ahead. But there’s a light on the horizon because of the sacrifices you’ve made.”
And just by happenstance *wink* – Afghanistan is announcing it’s deals with India, Pakistan and China to provide minerals and resources in addition to receiving $500 million a year for being a pass through for Turkmenistan oil and gas – the Hindu has the story:
Unlike the other conferences that take place around the world, examining the political, security and aid aspects of the post-2014 scenario, when the largely Western forces will have stopped their military operations, this conference will look at the investment opportunities in Afghanistan.
Announcing this at a press conference with Afghanistan Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul, External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna said Indian assistance to Afghanistan was neither “transitory, nor in transition.”
India, Pakistan and China will have a substantial economic stake in Afghanistan in the coming years. Kabul is poised to earn $500 million a year in transit fees from a pipeline originating from Turkmenistan and supplying gas to Pakistan and Afghanistan.
India has won the Hajigak iron ore mine, which officials say is the “jewel” of Afghanistan’s mining sector. After winning three of four blocks on offer, it is looking at six petroleum blocks in northern Afghanistan and copper mines in four different parts of the country. China has won the lucrative Aenak copper mine, but faces the same problem as India and Pakistan: some regions are plagued by conflict and the others are placid.
As we wrote about in It’s time to leave Afghanistan:
But at the end of the day – America is in Afghanistan for geopolitical reasons….both due to military positioning (Salem Iran!) and also corporate interests. Afghanistan is directly in between a huge supply of energy resources in Turkmenistan and the other stans’. The very important TAPI pipeline which runs directly through Afghanistan has been in progress; presumably – American oil companies will be able to provide huge supplies of oil and gas to over 1 billion Indians…and that’s a lot of profits for the shareholders of Exxon/Mobil/BP/Chevron/Texaco/Shell…not to mention the entire armaments industry. So the question is not whether we will have American bases in Afghanistan but how many.
National Journal gives the official background on this – article HERE:
Welcome to the presidential campaign, 189 days before Election Day, when every action by an incumbent president is scrubbed for political motive. So it is hard to take the White House explanation of the timing completely at face value. Aides insist that high-level review of U.S. negotiations with Afghanistan on the Security Partnership Agreement just concluded after 20 months of wrangling and it had to be signed before NATO leaders gather in Chicago on May 20. Closer to the mark is a senior administration official’s statement that both Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai thought it was important to sign the SPA on Afghan soil and that the U.S. president wanted to be with American troops to mark the one-year anniversary of the killing of the 9-11 mastermind.
Whatever the goals of this speech, it seems pretty clear that it’s at least partially meant to push back on that line of attack. At the least, it put his Republican critics on the defensive. For troops under fire, regardless of their personal politics, always appreciate a commander in chief who comes into theatre to recognize their sacrifice and thank them for their service. And Obama’s off-the-cuff, nine-minute remarks in the hangar were pretty tough for anyone to fault. They also showed that the president has learned from the mistakes made by one of his predecessors who stumbled when trying to signal the end of another war. It did not escape notice that this was also the anniversary of President George W. Bush’s infamous trip to an aircraft carrier off the coast of San Diego in 2003.
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