By Tahir M. Qazi, MD Axis of Logic 8/3/06

Former Unocal consultant Hamid Karzai who came to be known to the world as the President of Afghanistan has risen to this position with the help of US. It seems his government in Kabul is a marionette to the US policy of controlling strategic regions around the world.
The idea of controlling geo-strategic points is not new in the psyche of American policy makers. The Monroe Doctrine, which is about 180 years old, provides first glimpses of the US ambitions in the northern hemisphere. The Monroe Doctrine laid out a vision for trade interests. However, needs have since been changed, so the doctrine needed to be redefined.
The policy makers have always responded to the needs of businesses. The modern technology has substituted coal with oil for energy production in our civilization. Ever since, oil has been one of the most important deciding factors for foreign and military policies of industrialized countries.
Defense of geographical territory is not the only motive of the US for maintaining a large military. Security for industry is another one. Successful societies in history have had a tendency to grow out of their boundaries to subjugate the areas of interest, which are often economical interests. Interests and passion for national pride and prestige among other motives, depending upon the situation, have been referred to as ‘imperial impulse’ by historians.
The US industrial set up and domination can only be assured if regions of oil production and its routes of transportation are secured because dependence of America on foreign oil has increased to the highest levels over the course of past half century or so. During the 1940s almost 100% of oil consumed by the US was being produced within the country. As a matter of fact, US used to export oil to Japan, which was cut off prior to the Second World War and led Japan to secure her own interests in Indonesia and surrounding areas. Those enterprises of Japan were in conflict with the US policy. In this context it can be argued that Japan came lashing out at Pearl Harbor to limit access of the US navel forces to the waters of pacific.
The importance of oil can be further elaborated by refocusing on the doctrine of pre-emption. President Carter in his address to congress on January 23, 1980 after stating that the Soviet troops in Afghanistan posed “a grave threat to the free movement of Middle East oil”, he proclaimed:
“Let our position be absolutely clear: An attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force”.
President Carter’s policy declaration was first version of doctrine of preemption. Mr. Bush has merely reasserted Carter doctrine to the new world order that emerged in post cold war era. He emphasized defending American interests by securing energy resources with help of a strong military that will guard economical advantage for the US as far into the future as possible. Oil is the obvious center piece of policy in 21st century because no viable alternative source of energy or related infra structure appears in sight in the near future. The circumstances in the world made it easy to camouflage industrial interest under war on terrorism. Dick Cheney articulated in a speech at Cato Institute in 1998:
“The good Lord didn’t see fit to put oil and gas only where there are democratically elected regimes friendly to the United States. Occasionally we have to operate in places where, all things considered, one would not normally choose to go. But, we go where the business is”.
Proved oil reserves in Middle Eastern region are 742.7 billion barrels. North of Afghanistan, in newly freed states from Soviet Union and Russia, there is proved oil reserve that measures at 140.5 billion barrels. The sum total of the two represents about 73.5% of oil resources of the whole globe. In above two regions proved gas reserves are in addition to oil.
Even if it is easy to map oil regions, it remains a quandary for industrialized countries to chalk out plans to secure oil interest in those regions. It is a rather complex enterprise to chart out the route of transport, particularly for the fact that some regions are plagued with permanent conflicts and instability.
Any attempt to understand the huge task of securing and transporting oil takes us to looking at the US policy issues. In the 1940’s, one of the State Department policy memos indicated that the US comprised of 6.3% of world population while controlling 50% of the world wealth. The idea was to launch policies that would maintain the status quo.
The mission statement of conservative think tank, Project for the New American Century (PNAC) came in 1990s as an outgrowth of the 1940’s policy document. Prominent members of PNAC were Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Donald Rumsfeld, Jeb Bush and Bill Kristol among others. PNAC mission statement postulated key concerns of the United State for the future and argued for US dominance in the world. The goal of dominance was to solidify superiority of the United States for future at the end of cold war where the US emerged victorious and torch bearer of capitalism in the world.
In this scenario the need to control oil is paramount because it is the life line of modern civilization and it is a tool in hands of triumphant capitalism for building industry and expanding military to manage oil regions. It should not be forgotten that operating military industrial complex itself requires oil. On the other hand, there is also an advantage of having a big military power. It can help deny oil to the competitors and buy allies with intimidation.
China is rapidly assuming the status of a major economical player in the world with “… growth over the past 26 years has been called a miracle, with GDP growing at an annual rate of 9.4 percent”. Projections for future growth are also promising. The US is under huge debt from China. There is no apparent way to pay it back. One of the long term strategies could be limiting China’s access to oil that can then be sold to growing Chinese industry at a higher price. Someone said so eloquently (roughly), in geopolitics, there are only competitors and enemies but no friends.
After collapse of soviets, the new world order is militarily unipolar. The American ambition for global dominance shows up in military budget also. In fact, US ranks number one in the world on military spending with China being a distant second. It would be reasonable to see, for sake of assessment, the potential enemies of America including Russia, China, North Korea and Iran combined spent 135 billion dollars compared with 420.7 billion dollars in year 2005. It was about 30% of the US military budget for the same year (The US Senate has unanimously approved a 517.7 billion dollar defence bill for fiscal year 2007 that includes 50 billion dollars in funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan). It has been quite obvious for a long time that the US military spending far exceeded any other industrial nation on the globe, by huge margins.
According to one estimate, 42% of every citizen’s tax is being used to support war in Iraq and Afghanistan where Saddam Hussein and Taliban have been ousted but regional stability remains extremely uncertain.
Nonetheless, oil production out of Iraq has almost touched pre war levels according to media reports. Socially and politically Iraq is anything but stable. It necessitates continued presence of expensive military and building permanent military bases in Iraq. In Afghanistan, despite of election of Mr. Karzai, lack of effective control of his government outside the capital city makes one think that he is only a glorified mayor of Kabul. True power remains in hands of war lords.
The violent culture of war lords comes in conflict with vast military power of coalition forces very often according to the news. Coalition forces resort to indiscriminate use of force with a lot of collateral damage. The resentful feelings thus created in masses are not easy to sooth. They may have long term repercussions. It begs looking at the idea of violence in Afghan society from a different vantage point.
After decades of brutal war, emergence of Islamized violent power group in Afghanistan under the name Taliban was a sign of colossal failure of the idea of society and intellectual bankruptcy. Lack of availability of independent means of production even now leave little choice for ordinary Afghans but to be tied to primitive historic cultural means of production for shear survival. This contributes to symbiosis between ordinary people and war lords.
Afghanistan that fell to three decades of a proxy war of capitalism is left with no intact social institution; actually none whatsoever. Normal social living that cultivates in children ways to redress life’s conflicts and grievances in an amicable fashion has been replaced with practice of settling scores with bullets. It is partly thanks geo-political circumstances and partly due to fostering the idea of violent ‘Jihad’ by teaching a curriculum in Madrassas (Religious Schools), for years. It taught kids the glory of using violent ways to liberate their homeland from soviets who were infidels. Ironically, violent ways thus learnt have recently come to haunt believers of capitalism also. By the way, the curriculum for religious schools was designed at University of Nebraska with the help of an educational grant. Incidentally, it is not difficult to figure out how minds are trained for violence. But this will sidetrack our attention towards examining violence as a methodology and as an ‘ism’, which is also known as terrorism. This is a separate discussion, so we leave it for another time.
Despite the fact Afghanistan is a savage society right now; corporate interests have led the US to this place “where one would not normally choose to go”. California based Unocal was the company to conceive the idea of a pipeline from former soviet states through Afghanistan and Pakistan. But contract to build that pipeline was awarded to an Argentinean company by Taliban regime. With limited victory in war on terrorism in Afghanistan, Unocal’s interest in building the pipeline has become alive again while Argentinean company has been dumped. The only obstacle in the way of building the pipeline is that religious oriented violent mind set in Afghanistan has not given in yet.
Given the reality of these circumstances, it is understandable that savagery of a long war in Afghanistan and complex political landscape of its regional neighbors has inculcated a ‘violent jihadist mindset’ in at least one future generation. This regressive violent mindset of a whole generation is not going to disappear for a while. Therefore, in the presence of renewed corporate interest in that region, the war on terrorism may not end anytime soon. This war welcomes the new world order for future generations and sets the stage for a global corporate war on terrorism that may expand to other parts of the world and who knows when and where it will end. Outcry against war in the US is very feeble for now. Will it take a draft for the moral conscience of America to wake up?