Friday, July 05, 2002

There is a view that it is wrong to ascribe to the U. S. government as a motive for the war on Afghanistan the desire to force a pipeline through Afghanistan for the benefit of U. S. oil companies. The better view is supposed to be that the U. S. wanted to gain geopolitical control of Central Asia, which U. S. right-wing ideologues in the Bush Administration saw as achievable with the collapse of the Soviet empire. I agree that it seems absurd to go through the expenditures required for the Afghan war for the building of an oil pipeline, especially when there are other available routes (it would be cheaper just to give the U. S. oil companies their expected profit on the pipeline!), but I think it is unnecessary and misleading and possibly wrong to limit ourselves to one motive. There appear to be at least eight motives for the war on terrorism and, in particular, the war on Afghanistan:

  1. To advance U. S. geopolitical and imperialist goals by controlling Central Asia (the Imperialist Motive).

  2. To force an agreement on Afghanistan to allow the building of petrochemical pipelines through Afghanistan for the benefit of U. S. oil interests (or course, the use of the threat of force as a bargaining chip in commercial negotiations, a fact possibly known to al-Qaeda, may have ironically been the impetus for al-Qaeda to attack the U. S. as a form of preemptive attack)(the Pipeline Motive).

  3. Related to 2., to assist the extremely good friend of the Bush Administration, Enron, which was in grave financial trouble and could have used the pipeline as a source of funds for its involvement in the financing and construction of the pipeline and, perhaps more importantly, use the promise of the pipeline as a source of cheap fuel for its white elephant Indian energy plant as an inducement to a purchaser, allowing Enron to sell the energy plant and temporarily at least stave off ruin (the Enron Motive).

  4. To create an excuse for the U. S. to go on a war footing in order to take war emergency powers to stifle dissent and create a neofascist security state (the Fascist Motive).

  5. To use the war as an excuse for huge war expenditures and massive increases in the U. S. military budget, all to the benefit of military contractors (the Military-Industrial Complex Motive).

  6. To use the war to artificially improve the Bush Administration's sagging popularity and get it out of the aimless malaise in which it was already sinking (the Bush Malaise Motive).

  7. To continue the supply of Afghan heroin (the growing of poppies had been stopped by the Taliban), which formed the basis for a large heroin supply business to Europe using the services of Kosovar Albanian terrorists associated with al-Qaeda and the CIA (the Heroin Motive).

  8. To provide an excuse to use the war on terror for Israeli motives in controlling the Palestinians, and U. S./Israeli motives in removing Saddam Hussein (the Israeli Motives).

It may be that more than one of these benefits to various parts of the U. S. government and power establishment had to be in place for the war in Afghanistan to take place. Different motives pleased different parties. The Imperialist Motive pleased the right-wing intelligentsia of the think tanks and universities. The Pipeline Motive pleased the U. S. oil companies. The Enron Motive pleased the executives of Enron. The Fascist Motive pleased the John Ashcroft crowd, including the Christian Right, as did the Israeli Motives. The Military-Industrial Complex Motive pleased the military contractors, most notably Bush's dad's company Carlyle. The Bush Malaise Motive pleased the powers behind Bush. The Heroin Motive pleased those entrepreneurial parts of the CIA that like to make money out of the nice little earner they've found in the drug trade (I think this motive is one of the most crucial). Given the huge benefits to all these powerful interests of the war on terror, it is difficult to see the war on terror and the war on Afghanistan as anything other than inevitable. I think it is a mistake to try to limit the motivation to any one issue. What all these motives have in common is that none of them has anything to do with fighting terror, in particular, removing the Taliban for harboring al-Qaeda, defeating al-Qaeda, and killing or capturing bin Laden. It is not an accident that the Taliban have changed hats to morph back into the warlords who now comprise part of the Afghan 'government', that al-Qaeda left for greener pastures to become even more dangerous, and that bin Laden is alive and well.