Why is Canada in Afghanistan
Six years ago I told you that the real reason for the war in Afghanistan wasn’t about capturing Bin Laden or freeing the Afghanis from the clutches of the Taliban and warlords, but was instead about natural gas pipelines. In that article I quoted John J. Maresca a Unocal VP in testimony to the Congrssional Subcomittee on Asia and the Pacific, in 1998:
The second option is to build a pipeline south from Central Asia to the Indian Ocean. One obvious route south would cross Iran, but this is foreclosed for American companies because of U.S. sanctions legislation. The only other possible route is across Afghanistan, which has of course its own unique challenges. The country has been involved in bitter warfare for almost two decades, and is still divided by civil war. From the outset, we have made it clear that construction of the pipeline we have proposed across Afghanistan could not begin until a recognized government is in place that has the confidence of governments, lenders, and our company
Today I received an email from The Canadian Center For Policy Alternatives, pointing to a 17 page report they wrote, that goes into the issue of these pipelines more deeply from the perspective of why is Canada there.
Discussions of Canada’s role in Afghanistan have ignored the history of the region, which is littered with the failed ambitions of foreign states. Afghanistan has been a frequent battleground between nations and empires vying for dominance of the region. In efforts to conquer Afghanistan, foreign powers have expended great sums in blood and treasure. Today, the Great Game is a quest for control of energy export routes. Afghanistan is an energy bridge to bring natural gas from [tag]Turkmenistan[/tag] to [tag]Pakistan[/tag] and [tag]India[/tag].
The search for reliable sources of [tag]oil[/tag], [tag]gas[/tag] and [tag]electricity[/tag] is a top priority of many national capitals, not the least of which is Washington, D.C. In the post–Cold War world, the future economic and military power of old superpowers and emerging powers alike depends on reliable supplies of energy. The United States, the world’s greatest power, is also the most dependent upon energy imports. This dependence is a vulnerability to the U.S. in maintaining its global statu
In the halls of NATO, [tag]energy security[/tag] and [tag]national security[/tag] have become intertwined. As a traditional ally of the [tag]United States[/tag] and member of NATO, [tag]Canada[/tag] is drawn into the global chess match. At the 2008 Summit in Bucharest, NATO’s leaders pledged: “The Alliance will continue to consult on the most immediate risks in the field of energy security.” The final communiqué went on to say that “NATO will engage in… supporting the protection of critical energy infrastructure.”
Afghanistan’s role as an energy bridge is recognized at donor meetings and discussed in Asian newspapers, yet Canada’s decision makers and opinion leaders have remained silent. Why? What impact do energy issues have on Canada’s Afghanistan policy? Canadian Members of Parliament and officials have participated in regional energy meetings; but in government speeches and media reports, it’s as if no meetings have ever taken place
This study is an important contribution to the public debate over Canada’s policy regarding our involvement in Afghanistan. International energy economist John Foster lays out the case that Canadians may be unwittingly dragged into the New Great Game for control of energy. It is essential that Canadians consider these issues when determining our nation’s role in Afghanistan and NATO
[snip to the end]
Canadian policy makers and the public cannot ignore the fact that the U.S. clearly asserts the geopolitical importance of the region. Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher, in recent testimony to the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs, stressed the importance of Central Asian states to the “long-term stability of Afghanistan.” He noted the U.S. has “ambitious policy objectives in the region.” These ambitions clearly involve energy. He said the U.S. is “working to facilitate multiple oil and gas export routes” and “has been active in promoting private energy sector investment in the Region.” How much these objectives are shared by Canada, and how U.S. ambitions will affect Canada, remain to be clarified
The importance of oil and gas in the region was stressed at a Council of Foreign Relations panel discussion in 2007 in New York.82 Steve LeVine, journalist and author, noted: “US policy is pipeline-driven within a strategy… to make this area a pro-western swath of territory between Russia and Iran, driven by the establishment of an independent economic channel. Everything else is really – I hate to call it window-dressing – but it’s secondary to that.” Carter W. Page, CEO for Energy and Power, Merrill Lynch, observed: “From an economic perspective, oil and gas are far and away the largest place for both investment and trade…Energy and power are really the main game.
Informed decisions on Canada’s future role in Afghanistan and [tag]NATO[/tag] require attention to energy issues and to our allies’ designs on the resources and routes in the region.
Afghanistan must be seen in its geopolitical setting and in terms of the rivalry for the energy of Central Asia. Since [tag]Afghanistan[/tag] is perceived to be an energy bridge, why don’t our leaders say so? [tag]Our troops, our citizens and our democracy deserve an explanation[/tag].
So why are we there? Well it would appear as if it’s to serve as [tag]cannon fodder for the US[/tag]‘ desire to play geopolitical games with [tag]China[/tag] and [tag]Russia[/tag] while at the same time ensuring another source of energy for itself. It certainly isn’t to upset the Taliban or capture Osama bin Laden. Canada has plenty of [tag]oil and gas[/tag], more than enough for our own needs. We don’t need to be doing the US’ dirty work for them.