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Taliban Defeat Revives Talk of Trans-Afghan Oil Pipeline.
December 22, 2001 10:19 AM   Subscribe

Taliban Defeat Revives Talk of Trans-Afghan Oil Pipeline.
What are the real objectives of the war in Afghanistan? Could they include a Trans-Afghan Oil Pipeline? The new U.S. envoy to Kabul (and broker of the new Afghan government accord), Zalmay Khalilzad, was a former consultant to Unocal (and liaison to the Taliban, among others) when they wanted to build a pipeline through Afghanistan in the 1990s.

Could the U.S. be taming wild territory for the construction of "the new Silk Road," as the multi-billion-dollar pipeline is allegedly called?
posted by busbyism (11 comments total)

 
well it could become an important source of income for afghanistan, say, instead of heroin. but it might also end up screwing people over if not done right, just take a look at the royal dutch imbroglio in nigeria.

hopefully with the whole world watching govs and corps will do the right thing. there's often a fine line between development and exploitation.
posted by kliuless at 11:00 AM on December 22, 2001


Pipe Dreams: The origin of the "bombing-Afghanistan-for-oil-pipelines" theory
posted by owillis at 12:05 PM on December 22, 2001


This is fairly old news. Pre-9/11 news, even. And storming the Talibans out wasn't really the need for this project, as earlier this year the US were in very active talks with the Talibans over that matter. I think they almost came to a deal on this situation. Now, four planes went by, and yesterday's business friends are today's deadly enemies. You've got to love diplomacy.


hopefully with the whole world watching govs and corps will do the right thing. there's often a fine line between development and exploitation.

got Burma ?


(I'm offering a guinness and a free copy of b2 to anyone who gets the question)
posted by michel v at 12:29 PM on December 22, 2001


Is it... this?

The whole Unocal/Burma thing is news to me, so I don't really have an opinion about it. A large-scale construction project that results in international trade -- in something other than Kalashnikovs and opium, that is -- couldn't be the worst thing for Afghanistan, though.
posted by coelecanth at 12:48 PM on December 22, 2001


Oi, you just got a good answer. Though it wasn't the one I expected, that one being the Total-Fina corporation, which has been there over a pipeline for years, and have actually got the grasp of the local goverment so much that you could say they own the country.
All this within the benevolent eyesight of the 'whole world watching govs and corps'.
posted by michel v at 1:08 PM on December 22, 2001


People said the same thing about Chechnya. Russia was obliterating Grozny, and the US was opposing it, because both wanted a foothold in that strategic nub of land between the Caspian and the Black Sea.

It's like everything else. The experts know how to make it look easy, but it's really quite complicated. I think the potential for an Afghan route is just another reason to bomb hard, but not reason in itself to make war. Al-Qaeda is reason to make war because they and their friends make it hard for capitalists to do business. Underneath the war on terrorism is money, but it's very much underneath the consciousness of the people whom one would want to accuse of conspiracy such that no conspiracy is really there.
posted by rschram at 3:46 PM on December 22, 2001


Al-Qaeda is reason to make war because they and their friends make it hard for capitalists to do business.

The pervasiveness of this sentiment is proof positive that capitalism is WAY out of control. To the extent that American political and business leaders operate on that basis, the US is an enemy of the global public.
posted by maniabug at 6:11 PM on December 22, 2001


To the extent that American political and business leaders operate on that basis, the US is an enemy of the global public.

Are you suggesting—gasp!—that Osama is not the Anti-Christ?
posted by rschram at 8:04 PM on December 22, 2001


I would encourage everybody to take a look at the Slate article; in a nutshell, it makes the very good point that while the US government may be interested in encouraging the uninterrupted flow of oil, there's no reason to think that this is the only mover of US foreign policy.

Thus, the fact that the government may want something does not mean that there are no other factors guiding said government.

The problem with many conspiracy theories is that they do not take account of certain rather obvious elements of political behavior, for example that politicians might do something in order to be popular, so they might be reelected. Bush wants to be reelected, so he is prosecuting this war. The pipeline thing might be a side benefit for him (I'll hold off on the many ways I might disagree with the oil/pipeline thing, for example that it led the US to be too friendly with the Taliban for a while).
posted by lackutrol at 11:48 PM on December 22, 2001


At best the pipeline is a secondary objective that is well within the overt goals of the United States to create a stable world with open borders and trade. That we failed to go to war previously is an indicator that the pipeline was not sufficient motivation for war. Indeed, within the narrow bounds of diplomatic avenues available to us, we tried to work with the Taliban when it appeared they might actually have a shot at stabilizing the whole country, which was a reasonable use of engagement, abandoned a year ago due to the bin Laden issue, supported to a lesser degree by the women's rights and cultural heritage issues. This would not be in consonance with our present goals of creating a broad-based quasi-democratic government, but it would be in the interest of relieving Afghan poverty. Had the Taliban turned over bin Laden, especially before 9/11, they might be enjoying oil development tarriffs today.

Why has this re-emerged? The oil hasn't gone anywhere, and neither has American industry. This is a constant resource issue, and as such jibes well with a Realist viewpoint of foreign policy. Constant interests are predictable and polities pursuing constant interests are also predictable, making them easier to deal with. Keep in mind that large portions of WWII were fought on the basis of access to oil. You may consider capitalism predatory, but it's far better for all concerned for it to spread peacefully.

Al-Qaeda is reason to make war because they and their friends make it hard for capitalists to do business.

Ah, like there would be any other reason, huh? Al Qaeda is reason enough to make war, because they have been killing us, and have vowed to kill us more in the future. rschram, pull up your pants: your ideology is showing. "They and their friends" also make it hard for the people whose countries they occupy and destabilize to live in peace and pursue prosperity. Yes, they're "bad for business", but they're also objectively bad, unless mass murder is now off the table as far as bad things go.
posted by dhartung at 12:21 AM on December 23, 2001


I love it when the US government incriminates itself. Just go here and search the document for afghan. I tell you, nobody can tell the story quite like the DOE. It makes websites like this almost benign. Yes, the connections are there. They are strong. And they could be ONE motive of a larger group of perpetrators. After all, let's not forget that OBL was a CIA-trained warlord. Daddy Bush was the head honcho of the CIA. Question is, have they really gotten over their respective rolls as such?
posted by TD at 11:24 AM on December 23, 2001


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