Friday, 18 November 2011

The New Great Game and Afghanistan

News of two more deaths in Afghanistan of British troops in Helmland has still not yet led in the media in Britain to any public debate as to the real nature of the war aims. It is a fact that the war is crucially concerned with securing the route for the TAPI pipeline. This was evident as early as 2003 when Lutz Kleveman wrote his seminal The New Great Game.

His book, peer reviewed and praised by those such as respected journalist and historian Misha Glenny, sets out in tough and clear writing what is really at stake in Central Asia. Here is part of a review of it that appears on Kleveman's own website.

"The Great Game today is about access to the region’s substantial and largely underdeveloped reserves of petroleum and natural gas. The former Soviet Republics of the Caucasus region are also players in this story. Before the United States occupied Iraq and before Osama bin-Laden became a household dirty word, American foreign policy favored an economic plan to build an oil pipeline...

Lutz Kleveman’s interviews with Afghan, Russian, Uzbek, and other regional leaders indicate that something else is the primary motivation for American presence in the region. Such people believe that U.S.involvement in Afghanistan is neither about promoting democracy or stopping Al Queda. The Americans are believed to be in Central Asia for oil and, with respect to Afghanistan, the right of way for an oil pipeline. The United States’ supposed “democratic reconstruction” of the national government of Afghanistan appears shallow in Kleveman’s reporting. Local warlords lack the systematic brutality of the Taliban, but remain very much in charge of their regions. With one group of Islamic fundamentalist thugs gone, another group of political muscle men now seem to be in charge. These local bosses refer to Afghanistan’s President Karzai as the “Mayor of Kabul.”

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