Afghanistan: The New Great Game of Oil Wars and the Next Chapter in the Obama Administration

by on December 4, 2009 · 3 comments

in History, War and Peace, World News

By Gary David Ghirardi

Historically Informing Expectations for Progressive Citizenry

savemeThe Afghanistan War cannot be Barack Obama’s war anymore than it is historically correct to call it George W Bush’s war – because there is a history revealed that says different. They inherited a stage in a conquest that has been playing out in modern times from as far back as 1839.  It is all part of something called the “Great Game,” a competition to control Central Asia of which Afghanistan is the geographical bridge.

When Great Britain colonized India, under the interests of their corporation, “The East India Company,” The Anglo-afghan wars, that extended over three periods from 1839 to 1842, 1878 to 1880, and May 1919 to August 1919, were wars of territorial conquest between the British Empire and the Russian Empire, and now is the venue of the American Empire.

Hearing Obama invoke 9/11 again in his speech yesterday night is the same propagandistic subterfuge for our benefit as it was when we needed to struggle against Communism and now Islamic terrorism.  These are ideological justifications for what has been a struggle of control for economic reasons, then and now, designed to create an enemy and have little to do with the true motivations other than to give us a reason to rally to war.  What have changed are the resources; oil and energy was not in the mix in 1839 but it in 2009.

Afghanistan’s history of Anglo Occupation and Resistance

In 1907 an accord was signed between Britain and Russia called the Anglo-Russian Convention that divided up the region of Persia, (now Iran), Afghanistan, and Tibet. Iran was divided into a northern zone for the Russians and a southern zone for the British.  The Emir of Afghanistan accepted an agreement with Britain to be positioned as a semi-protectorate to serve as a hedge against the Russian Empire. Both China and Tibet rejected this agreement but lacked the power to forestall the occupations.  This is how the region entered the 20th century.
After over 80 years of struggles between the British forces and Afghan resistance in 1919 was accomplished an armistice with the Afghans that established the Durand Line which established a political boundary between Afghanistan and British India. It also won the Afghans the right to administrate their own affairs as an independent state.

The 1920’s saw the beginning of the political chess game between the newly established Soviet Russia, British interests in India, and internal tribal conflicts of the newly independent Afghan state.  The Soviets, eager to establish better relations with Muslims inside their own eastern borders promoted cooperative agreements with neighboring Muslim regions and used these relations to threaten Britain, which was one of the western states supporting counter-revolution in the Soviet Union.  British relations with Afghanistan soured with Soviet military aid to Afghanistan and Indian nationalists being given asylum in Kabul.  By 1928 the Pashtun tribal majority rebelled against the reform government of Afghanistan that had liberalized and secularized much of Afghani Urban life to reassert Islamic laws as a form of governance.  The British assisted in the overthrow of a Soviet friendly, liberal government and backed the conservative Islamic takeover of Kabul by fundamentalist tribes in retaliation.

The New Great Game: The Politics of Cold War and Corporate Interests in the Oil Era

The war in Afghanistan is not and has not been for the last 30 years about ideological alliances between the “democratic” west and the previously “communist” Soviet Union; it is about control of massive oil fields in central Asian countries and how to secure pipeline routes to deliver that oil to market. The Soviet Afghanistan war was an attempt by the Russians to support a Soviet friendly government in Afghanistan that had stood in power since 1973 from an overthrow attempt by U.S. funded Mujahedeen liberation fighters. This political alliance for the U.S. Interests undid nearly a 40 year process of modernization in Afghanistan and led to the repressive fundamentalist revolution that resulted in the Soviet withdrawal in 1989. What we have been fighting since then is a native resistance that has been used as political pawns between oil interests trying to prevail in securing and winning the race of cheaper oil to access ports, east and south from the Caspian basin area. On our “side” of the struggle is the interest of UNOCAL, the spearhead for Standard Oil interests, which has been trying to build the north-south pipeline through Afghanistan and Pakistan to the Indian Ocean for several decades.  This is documented fact that has somehow managed to avoid much press inside the U.S. media, and appears to be headed to the same fate in the Obama Administration, if recent speeches by Obama are any indication of what the U.S. Citizenry is likely to be led to believe.

It seems that you cannot sell empire on the business facts alone, you need to rally people around a belief that they have about their country and themselves. As the next chapter for the anti-war movement takes shape in the next months, the contradictions for the progressive front within the U.S. culture between those who hold on to the belief in the Republic and those who are on the verge of accepting the need for regime change need to come to a different understanding about their choices and instilled prejudices before any realignment of movement strategies are likely to build a coalition of leaders rather than a coalition of the led.


{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Mike Copass December 4, 2009 at 9:38 am

The OB Rag and this author make a great contribution to the public debate about the US objectives in central asia.

After I read Zbigniew Brzezniskni’s 1997 book “The Grand Chessboard” — in which he elegantly makes the (mindboggly-ing evil) case that the key to strangulation of other emerging states is domination of Eurasian energy and mineral resources — and that the keystone in Eurasia is Caspian/Afghanistan/Pakistan, my thinking has evolved.
(book makes a fine xmas gift to the curious – short and readable)

No public discussion about a tax-payer funded occupation of Central asia is complete without a scrutiny of where gas & oil resources lie, and the motives, profits, and related of the corporations and individuals who stand to gain. A map of two possible natural gas pipelines, the TAPI pipeline described and the IPI or ‘peace pipeline’ from Iran-Pakistan-India is also highly instructive.

The daily TV blather about ‘terrrorists’ and ‘alqaeda’ is by and large a smokescreen, which blinds us to the deeper realities.

Thanks for contributions to the noosphere from a former Obecian. (exiled to Clairemont after they spotted me at Starbucks)

Mike Copass


Dave Sparling December 4, 2009 at 4:22 pm

by hermitdave December 4, 2009 4:09 AM EST
OK so I assume the reason for this long deadly adventure is still to capture Osama Bin Laden DEAD or ALIVE. Sure strange that a massive super power has spent billions of dollars, thousands of very dead humans in what could have been solved with a few phone calls by the CIA to it’s covert operations people.

What we have is a classic case of either extremely stupid or evil or both leadership since 9/11/01. The barbaric uncivilized devoid of rational thought decision by our top political and military leadership. After bombing and sending rockets into groups of short Afghan scrap hunters, standing with a TALL man, then shipping small bits of their flesh to the FBI lab hoping they got Osama, the Cheney/Rummy gang, gave up their interest in Osama.

With the help of the new MIMC (military industrial media complex) Cheney/Rummy put the spoiled rich kid on a soap box, screaming Saddam had WMD’s and was set to destroy the United States. The Osama-Hitler speeches were dropped, replaced by Saddam-Hitler speeches. Soon Americas massive air power was unleashed on the innocent women and children of Iraq. Followed by exciting reporters like Ollie North and the new IN BED-WITH style of combat news coverage. So much nicer than those damn Vietnam reporters that upset moms and dads during the evening news casts. Now the MIMC made war news like a cool video game. Families didn’t know their sons and daughters were dead until notified by the military.

So just let me again emphasize the reason for all that has happened since 9/11/01. Every dead and maimed human in these adventures in evil stupidity has to be traced back to one moronic decision. Start two wars because the government of Afghanistan refused to arrest Osama Bin Laden and turn him over to Cheney/Rummy and their gang of war criminals. Ask your congress person to prove any other critical reason for these two wars. They can’t do it. It is up to the American people. They can continue the death and destruction, or demand all troops and private soldiers of fortune leave both countries today.


Monty Kroopkin December 6, 2009 at 3:45 pm

Emergency Anti-Escalation Rally at the White House -Saturday, Dec. 12, 2009 • Washington DC
Lafayette Square | White House. Tell Obama & Congress: “NO, YOU CAN’T!” -No Escalation • End the Wars • Bring Our Troops Home

Speakers: Rep. Dennis Kucinich, Rep. Cynthia McKinney, Sen. Mike Gravel, Kathy Kelly, Chris Hedges, David Swanson, Rev. Graylan Hagler, Gael Murphy, Brian Becker, Debra Sweet, Mathis Chiroux, Coy McKinney, Elaine Brower, Lynne Williams, Hon. Betty Hall, Marian Douglas, Dr. Michael Knox, Ralph Lopez, Cpt. Ron Fisher.

Plus: Statements from Rabbi Michael Lerner, Col. Ann Wright, Kevin Zeese, Dr. Stephen Zunes, Granny D (turning 100), and others.

Live Music: Jordan Page, Head-Roc, Emma’s Revolution, Precise Science.

Under Obama-Pelosi-Reid, the US has already sent about 35,000 more troops into the Afghanistan graveyard of empires. Now, Obama has announced another round of re-enforcements—an Afghan surge of 30,000 additional GIs, thereby betraying his supporters on the left and ignoring the majority of Americans, 55% of whom disapprove of his handling of the war. Instead, Obama is taking the advice from the war party—from Petraeus, McChrystal, and Mullen. It’s high time Obama, Pelosi, and Reid heard a clear message from a resurgent antiwar movement demanding no escalation and an immediate pullout of all US forces from Afghanistan and Iraq, including an immediate halt to Predator drone attacks and CIA operations in the region.


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