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Oil, War and Afghanistan

By Emergency Committee Against U.S. Intervention in Afghanistan

Banner reading US hands off Afghanistan

Statement of the Emergency Committee Against U.S. Intervention in Afghanistan

The U.S. government launched massive attacks against Afghanistan on Oct. 7, claiming retaliation for the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11.

But the events of September 11 were simply the pretext for the launching of a war for the control of resources around the world.

Every war needs a pretext, a political provocation with which the authorities can mobilize the population.

In history class, we were taught that World War I was started when Austrian Archduke Francis Ferdinand was assassinated. However, the eruption of that war was the result of a whole range of political factors. The assassination was only the pretext for launching a war that had been brewing for months.

Governments, including the U.S., have actually manufactured events to justify going to war, like with the Gulf of Tonkin incident in Vietnam. At other times, governments in need of a pretext for war will latch onto a horrific event and use it to condemn their chosen enemy as the source of all evil and deserving of an extreme military response.

These war preparations did not begin with the September 11 attacks, and they are not aimed at punishing those responsible. The war preparations are, in fact, aimed to position the U.S. as the supreme economic and military power in the world today. That is why some commentators are referring to the current crisis as the “start of World War III.”

September 11 simply set off an explosion that was already in the making.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990, the U.S. has been the largest economic and military power in the world. But the U.S. has not been able to consolidate its position because it has been challenged by its economic competitors in Europe and Asia.

Nor has the U.S. been able to discipline every state that fails to allow itself to be dominated by U.S. economic interests. In every case, when the U.S. labels a country a “rogue state”, the country is one that has refused to be a compliant accessory in the U.S.-dominated New World Order.

For the U.S., the most effective way to enforce world domination is through use of its military.

The Bush administration is grabbing hold of the September 11 attacks in order to lay the basis for this worldwide escalation of U.S. militarism. The Bush administration has made it clear that it will go after any state that it decides is “terrorist.” No need to show any connection between any particular state and the events of September 11. Just click on the “terrorist” icon and start bombing.

The Washington Post, in an editorial published on Sept. 15 wrote, “The Bush administration's vow to go after states that harbor terrorists as well as terrorists themselves opens up a broad array of potential targets.” The Post editorial goes on to mention Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Sudan, Syria and North Korea as possible targets.

On Sept. 14, the Egyptian ambassador to the U.S. left a meeting at the U.S. State Department saying that the U.S. should focus on finding those who carried out the attacks and not “broaden the effort to include other geopolitical goals.”

But that is just what the Bush administration has in mind.

The meeting that the Egyptian ambassador was leaving was called by the U.S. State Department. Representatives from 15 Middle East countries were told that they had a stark choice: “... either declare their nation members of an international coalition against terrorism, or risk being isolated in a growing global conflict,” according to The New York Times.

The Bush administration is planning what amounts to a worldwide “lockdown”. For the U.S. government this is an opportunity to realign the world.

Afghanistan and bin Laden have become the first chosen targets for the Pentagon. Within minutes of the September 11 explosions, the government and media began laying the political groundwork for an attack on Afghanistan. News reports included unfounded speculation that bin Laden and Afghanistan were the culprits. The focus of reporting has been on who to blame, rather than on what circumstances led to the attack.

Afghanistan is a particularly easy target. The Taliban movement and the government it has established, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, have few friends in the West. Afghanistan is one of the poorest countries in the world.

If, in fact, a political force or movement “associated with the Middle East,” as TV commentators describe it, should actually have been responsible for carrying out the September 11th events, the first thing that one would want to understand is: why?

In light of the twenty-four/seven news coverage, it is amazing that there has not been any serious discussion in this country over why anyone would be so angry with the U.S. that they would participate in such a massive attack.

In fact, for many millions of people around the world the U.S. is not seen as the “shining city on a hill,” but as a giant economic power that exploits the labor and resources of the world for the profits of large multi-national corporations.

U.S. policy in Iraq is one prominent example. In 1990, the United Nations, at the urging of the U.S., imposed massive economic sanctions against Iraq after the invasion of Kuwait.

Eleven years later these sanctions remain in place. U.N. and other agencies report that over a million Iraqi people have died as a result of the effects of the sanctions.

Also well known is the attitude of the U.S. government to the suffering brought upon the Iraqi people. The CBS news program “60 Minutes” interviewed Madeleine Albright when she was Secretary of State during the Clinton administration. When questioned about the more than 500,000 innocent Iraqi children who had died as a direct result of the sanctions, Albright was asked if the price was justified. She responded, “We think the price is worth it.”

In addition to the sanctions, the U.S. has conducted a nearly continuous bombing campaign against targets in Iraq.

The pretext used to launch the Persian Gulf War was the need to expel Iraq from Kuwait. Yet long after that feat had been accomplished, the war continues. It didn't take long for the world to realize that the true purpose of this armed conflict was the U.S. need to control the flow of oil.

Middle East oil will be pumped and distributed no matter who controls the wells. The real question is: who will reap the profits from the oil and who will control its distribution around the world?

Clearly, the U.S. wants to maintain control not only over the profits, but also over its economic competitors. With the U.S. military in control of the transportation of oil, competitors such as Japan, Germany, France and England will be forced to cooperate with the U.S. in order to maintain their economic infrastructures.

The U.S. military presence in the Middle East and the U.S. bombing of Afghanistan are driven by one thing: oil.

Afghanistan is located in an area of the world that the U.S. and western oil companies must dominate in order to retain control over the world's economic systems. With the collapse of the Soviet Union and the new development of oil reserves in the Central Asian states, there are huge profits to be made by those who can control the extraction and distribution of oil.

An “Afghanistan Fact Sheet” produced by the U.S. Energy Information Administration states, “Afghanistan's significance from an energy standpoint stems from its geographical position as a potential transit route for oil and natural gas exports from Central Asia to the Arabian Sea. This potential includes proposed multi-billion dollar oil and gas export pipelines through Afghanistan.”

An article in the Denver Rocky Mountain News printed last year highlighted the importance of opening up these Central Asian oil resources: “What makes the Caspian oil particularly attractive is that it is not controlled by OPEC [the organization of oil exporting countries, heavily dominated by the Arab states]. Unlike the Arabs, the Central Asian republics have no reservations about allowing foreigners to develop their energy sector.”

When the Taliban first emerged as the dominant power in Afghanistan, the U.S. tried to maintain good relations with the movement. This arrangement continued despite the obvious discrimination being instituted against the women of Afghanistan and the attack on basic human rights for all Afghanis.

The reason: the multi-national oil company, UNOCAL, was in negotiations with the Taliban to build a pipeline across Afghanistan. When that deal fell through, U.S. foreign policy abruptly changed. By failing to meet the needs of the U.S. multi-national oil companies, the Taliban were demoted to an unreliable partner and labeled a danger to U.S. control of the region.

The catalyst for the U.S. attack on Afghanistan therefore, has less to do with concern over “terrorism” and more to do with concern for oil profits.

The war plans of the U.S. government are not the path to a safe world, but to a more dangerous world for everyone. A strong anti-war and progressive movement in the U.S. will be the clearest signal to the world that the majority of the people of the U.S. are allies in the struggle for a better world.

Map of Afghanistan

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