What Are We Doing in Afghanistan?: Surveying Euro-American Pipeline Interests

Written by T. J. COLES

Friday, 28 October 2011 18:06

central_asiaAfghanistan has always been considered “the centre of great empires” by imperial powers,1serving as a “buffer” between Persia, Russia, and India (Britain’s greatest colonial prize).2 Lord Curzon, viceroy of India, referred to the countries as “pieces on a chessboard upon which is being played out a game for the domination of the world.”3 A century later, the long-time geostrategist and energy investor, Zbigniew Brzezinski, authored The Grand Chessboard (1997) in which he called Eurasia “the center of world power,” adding that fragmentation will “keep the barbarians from coming together.”4

Collapse of the Soviet Union and Control of the Caspian Sea

The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 left a question mark over the Caspian Sea and its energy reserves, with Iran, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, and Russia claiming sovereignty. Bruce R. Kuniholm explained that “Brzezinski believed that how Russia responds to Ukraine’s closer relationship with Europe and to Azerbaijan’s desires to pipe its oil through Turkey will be the bellwethers for its imperial ambitions.”5As the Soviet Empire began to crumble, Britain established half a dozen embassies in the newly independent, energy-rich countries such as Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan, working on behalf of BP to overthrow the Azerbaijani leader and install a Western-friendly government.6

Russia: In 1994, Russia formally approached the UN Secretary-general, stating “that Russia would take all necessary measures to restore [what it deemed to be] the legal order of the Caspian,” according to Kamyar Medhiyoun’s scholarly study. “Given the importance of the Caspian energy reserves to the world’s economy,” Medhiyoun continued, “a replay of the nineteenth-century “great game”—with different players and some new rules—is not a surprising spectacle.”7 Indeed, the situation became so serious that in 1996 a UN meeting was held and attended by delegates from Italy, Germany, Japan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, India, Turkey, and, of course, Britain.8

British Occupations: The events resurrected the ghosts of the 1930s, when Zahir Shah, the British puppet ruler of Afghanistan, “sought help from Japanese, Italian, and German advisers, who laid plans for a modern network of communications and roads,” fostering “economic modernization [as] German engineers built textile mills, power plants, and carpet and furniture factories to be run by monopolies under royal license,” according to Nick Cullather’s history. “These efforts met with sporadic—and occasionally bloody—resistance,” but the international theft continued unabated, just like today

The imposition of a centralised, pro-Western government with the PR-friendly appellation “democracy” is also an old plan anathema to the genuine democratic (if flawed) systems offered by tribalism. In 1881, two years into Britain’s second occupation of Afghanistan, Captain T.H. Holdich pointed out that “not in free England has the private individual so strong a voice in the government of his country as he has in Afghanistan.” Holdich discovered that “even the most apparently unimportant provincial chief must have his opinion consulted before any great political move can be made.”

Other British colonialists came to similar conclusions about their global “subjects,” be they Australians or Nigerians. Holdich concluded that:

“Every Afghan is a diplomat by nature and education, and he has accordingly a perception of the political interests of his country which, for clearness and keenness, has no counterpart whatever among the lower orders of England.”10

The House of Commons Defence Committee reported a similar finding during Britain’s fourth occupation in 2007: “We were told that many Afghans had no experience of central government and were used to government by local elders at shuras, or meetings,”11 a system which has to be destroyed as resource wealth may otherwise be shared equally.

Euro-American Intrusions: Returning to the 1996 crisis, it was essential from the psychopathic elites’ perspective to ensure Euro-American control of the region, and the world in general. That is why the US Space Command announced shortly afterwards America’s intention to achieve Full Spectrum Dominance by 2020, “to close the ever-widening gap between diminishing resources and increasing military commitments.”12

Fronting for the John M. Olin and Smith Richardson Foundations, Samuel P. Huntington told the world to prepare for “a clash of civilizations,” as Euro-American powers sought to exploit “international institutions, military power and economic resources to run the world in ways that will maintain Western predominance, protect Western interests and promote Western political and economic values.”13 In his eponymous book, Huntington went some way to admit that during the late 1970s and particularly into the 1980s, radical Islam was fomented in Central Asian states by US clients as a way to damage the secular Soviet Union.

Once it had collapsed, the US and Britain were free to move into the region, fighting and often pretending to fight, the very “stirred up Muslims” they had created (Brzezinski). What was needed to put this massive plan into action was “a catastrophic and catalyzing event – like a new Pearl Harbor” – which would ensure a new American century.14

U.S. and the Taliban: Milton Bearden, the former CIA agent for Pakistan, explained how prior to 9/11, America “saw the Taliban as the source of a new order and a possible tool in yet another replay of the Great Game—the race for the energy riches of Central Asia.”15

Sure enough, after the Taliban failed to construct the pipeline, “the great game” continued. In 2010, Britain’s unelected “coalition” government published its Strategic Defence and Security Review, which stated that Britain will “deepen engagement with energy producers … ensuring that business and political conditions support key infrastructure projects, including pipelines to bring gas from the Caspian region.”16

Two House of Commons Library analysts explained that in 1991, “The new-found independence of the Soviet successor states and the world’s future energy needs came together by the mid 1990s to provide the opportunity to renew the exploitation of rich sources of gas and oil in the Caspian basin.” Consequently, “the fuel needs of Pakistan, India and China with their rapidly growing economies, could be addressed.”17Translation: made dependent upon Anglo-American pipeline hegemony, which has been achieved by occupying Afghanistan, the “buffer” state.

The Iran-India-China Project

Barnett Rubin’s Chatham House study noted the surrounding states’ perception of “a US strategy to encircle and contain Iran”, a country with huge oil and gas reserves coveted by India and China.18 The perception is accurate. A 2005 Strategic Studies Institute report noted that “the most attractive long-term strategy for Iran is traditional containment,” military and economic, “which would emphasize breaking Iran’s ties to China,”19 hence Britain and America have surrounded Iran, either with occupation forces in neighbouring nations or by supporting client states, such as Azerbaijan. A Congressional report revealed Iran’s plans for “the construction of a gas pipeline from Iran to India, through Pakistan, with a possible extension to China.”20 There were, however, long-standing Anglo-American plans to do the same thing, starting from Turkmenistan.

Anglo-American $2.5 Billion Pipeline

In 1998, around the time that Iran was considering an invasion of Afghanistan, America’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported that “Unocal suspends plans for the construction of a $2 billion natural gas pipeline that would run from Turkmenistan to Pakistan via Afghanistan. Unocal has stressed that the gas pipeline project will not proceed until an internationally recognized government is in place.”21 In 2002, after the “catastrophic and catalyzing event” of 9/11, EIA wrote that:

“Until recently, the pipeline was considered effectively dead, but with a fragile peace in Afghanistan established and the Taliban removed from power, the idea of a trans-Afghan [sic] pipeline has been revived. Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov and Afghan leader Hamid Karzai have expressed their support for the pipeline.”22

In 2006, the USAID- and World Bank-sponsored Afghanistan Investment Support Agency—of which the former Unocal employee and Afghan puppet President Hamid Karzai is a member—issued a formal statement on the pipeline.

“The participants of the regional conference held in New Delhi supported the project for constructing [the] gas pipeline … [which] would allow Afghanistan [under Anglo-American occupation] to realize its potential as an “energy bridge between Central and Southeast Asia”. The two-day forum in the Indian capital was attended by officials from 18 countries, including Russia and about 10 international organizations.”23

As well as resurrecting the ghosts of the 1930s, the international thievery fulfilled the principles of the 1996 UN Summit, this time with Britain and America—not Russia—in the driver’s seat (with Tony Blair sitting on George Bush’s lap). Two pipeline routes are being designed by the UK company Penspen. According to Penspen, the project will cost $2.5 billion and will carry 30 billion cubic metres of gas per year from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan on to Pakistan and India, in association with Nippon Koei UK.24Consequently, a path must be cleared in the relevant regions. The upper route of the proposed pipeline corresponds to the increase in Anglo-American drone attacks in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region.


 Penspen’s Gas Pipeline Route


 BBC Map of Drone Attacks 

US/UK/NATO Military Aggression: Currently testing Watchkeepers, UK occupation forces are operating Desert Hawk and Hermes 450 spy drones, as well as Reapers armed with Anglo-American-produced Hellfire and GBU-12 missiles. Under Project Morrigan, the UK has been quietly using the first fully autonomous drone, HERTI, produced by BAE Systems.25 Its functions include “Border patrol … Infantry/front line support … Pipeline surveillance.”26 The BBC enthused that, as part of a new breed of autonomous systems, “Herti can think for itself,”27 whereas the Ministry of Defence thinks that artificial intelligence may lead to “a doomsday scenario, ultimately meaning the end of the world, or at least of humanity.”28 The drones are supporting NATO forces in the region, whose goal was explained by then-Secretary-general Jaap de Hoop Scheffer in 2009:

“It was the oil companies which already quite some time ago approached NATO – not exclusively NATO, also the European Union – to see how these international organizations could be helpful … I can tell you that the present strategic concept of NATO, of dating back, as you know, to 1999, is already talking about the free flow of energy … Let’s be glad that the gas is flowing again.”29

Dissolving Civilized Order

Exemplifying the hypocrisy of Anglo-American imperial attitudes, the Western-backed rebels who have torn Libya to shreds are granted civilian status by the British government because they do not abide by the Geneva Conventions (they don’t wear uniforms, carry arms openly, etc). Consequently, they were protected under UN Resolution 1973. This means that Gaddafi had to sit back and let Western-armed thugs destroy Libya as NATO bombs cleared a path for them.30

Alleged Taliban and “al-Qaeda” suspects who are destroyed with Anglo-American drones on the other hand are not considered civilians according to Anglo-American policy, even though they too do not abide by the Geneva Conventions. The notion, however, that “the entire world is a battleground in which the laws of war are applicable undermines the protections of international law,” Human Rights Watch noted,31 also suspecting that Blackwater (Xe Services) mercenaries are engaged in killing alleged Taliban and “al-Qaeda” suspects by launching drone attacks.32 The Times (London) reported that:

“In response to questions of Blackwater contractors being potentially classified as “unlawful combatants” under the rules of the Geneva Convention[s, founder Erik] Prince dismisses the idea, saying that Iraqi, Afghan, and Pakistani “barbarians” fighting against the United States “crawled out of the sewer … They don’t know where Geneva is, let alone that there was a convention there.”33

Racist Roots: Rewind a hundred years, and you’ll find similar statements. In 1919, when Royal Air Force pilots were strafing Afghans in support of Britain’s third occupation, Sir John Maffrey asked, “What are the rules for this kind of cricket?” His commanders answered that international law did not apply “against savage tribes who do not conform to codes of civilized warfare.”34 Old wine, old bottles. (In the oxymoron sweepstakes, “civilized warfare” vies with “business ethics” and “military intelligence”). The primary difference today is that the selection of weapons being tested against humans in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Libya, and elsewhere, threaten the survival of the species.

Psychotics with New Weapons

Such weapons range from the weaponisation of the weather by electromagnetic pulses (“crossed beams”)35 to schizophrenic voice-to-skull technologies,36 which according to Congressman Dennis Kucinich may soon be mounted to space platforms and targeted at individuals, or, should the Pentagon desire it, wider populations.37 The hi-tech plans were first laid out by Brzezinski in Between Two Ages (1976). Commenting on such weapons, which are currently stationed in the Polar regions—where the Earth’s electromagnetic energies can be amplified—the Russian State Duma announced in 2002 that:

The U.S. plans to carry out large-scale scientific experiments, … not controlled by the global community, [which] will create weapons capable of breaking radio communication lines and equipment installed on spaceships and rockets, provoke serious accidents in electricity networks and in oil and gas pipelines and have a negative impact on the mental health of people populating entire regions.38

The reason for the lack of “global community” control is because a European Parliament call to investigate the weapon system in 199939 was stalled before being rejected in 2003, eliciting no mainstream media reaction.40 The system is currently being used to look for subterranean silos in Iran, and was probably used to “x-ray” Afghanistan for mineral resources,41 all a tiny fraction of the Full Spectrum Dominance underway.

First Published at Axis of Logic.


  1. Major A.G. Constable, “Afghanistan: The Present Seat of War, and the Relations of That Country to England and Russia”, Journal of the American Geographical Society of New York, Vol. 11, 1879, pp. 41-58.
  2. E. Huntington, “The Anglo-Russian Agreement as to Tibet, Afghanistan, and Persia”, Bulletin of the American Geographical Society, Vol. 39, No. 11, 1907, pp. 653-658.
  3. Cited in Anthony Verrier, 1991, Francis Younghusband and the Great Game, London: Jonathan Cape.
  4. Zbigniew Brzezinski, 1997, The Grand Chessboard, London: HarperCollins.
  5. Bruce R. Kuniholm, “The Geopolitics of the Caspian Basin”, Middle East Journal, Vol. 54, No. 4, Autumn, 2000, pp. 546-571.
  6. Mark Curtis, 2010, Secret Affairs: Britain’s Collusion with Radical Islam, London: Serpent’s Tail.
  7. Kamyar Mehdiyoun, “Ownership of Oil and Gas Resources in the Caspian Sea”, American Journal of International Law, Vol. 94, No. 1, January, 2000, pp. 179-189.
  8. Barnett Rubin, “Women and Pipelines: Afghanistan’s Proxy Wars”, International Affairs (Royal Institute of International Affairs 1944-), Vol. 73, No. 2, Asia and the Pacific, April, 1997, pp. 283-296.
  9. Nick Cullather, “Damming Afghanistan: Modernization in a Buffer State”, The Journal of American History, Vol. 89, No. 2, History and September 11: A Special Issue, September, 2002, pp. 512-537.
  10. Captain T.H. Holdich, “Geographical Results of the Afghan Campaign”, Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society and Monthly Record of Geography, New Monthly Series, Vol. 3, No. 2, February, 1881, pp. 65-84.
  11. House of Commons Defence Committee, “UK Operations in Afghanistan, Thirteen Report of Session 2006-7”, 3 July, 2007, London: Stationary Office Ltd.
  12. US Space Command, “Vision for 2020”, February, 1997.
  13. 13. Samuel P. Huntington, “A Clash of Civilizations?”, Foreign Affairs, Vol. 72, No. 3, Summer, 1993, pp. 22-48. For details on whose behalf Huntington was working, see his Preface to The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, 2002 (3rd edition), London: The Free Press.
  14. Thomas Donnelly, “Rebuilding America’s Defenses,” The Project for the New American Century, September, 2000, Washington, DC
  15. Milton Bearden, “Afghanistan, Graveyard of Empires”, Foreign Affairs, Vol. 80, No. 6, November-December, 2001, pp. 17-30.
  16. Cabinet Office, “Securing Britain in an Age of Uncertainty: The Strategic Defence and Security Review”, October, 2010, Government Printing Office.
  17. Winstone and Young, “The Caspian Basin, energy reserves and potential conflicts”, House of Commons Library, Research Paper 05/24, 16 March, 2005.
  18. Barnett Rubin, “Women and Pipelines: Afghanistan’s Proxy Wars”, International Affairs (Royal Institute of International Affairs 1944-), Vol. 73, No. 2, Asia and the Pacific, April, 1997, pp. 283-296.
  19. Thomas Donnelly, “Strategy for a Nuclear Iran” in Henry Sokolski and Patrick Clawson (editors), “Getting Ready for a Nuclear Ready Iran”, Institute of Strategic Studies, October, 2005, p.159.
  20. Kenneth Katzman, “The Iran Sanctions Act (ISA)”, Congressional Research Service, Order Code RS20871, 12 October, 2007 (23 January 2008).
  21. Energy Information Administration, “Monthly Energy Chronology – 1998”, subsequently removed but archived BT Internet.
  22. Energy Information Administration, “Caspian Sea Region: Natural Gas Export Options”, July, 2002, subsequently removed but archived at Pipelines International.
  23. Afghanistan Investment Support Agency, “Gas pipeline project Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India approved”, 21 November, 2006, subsequently removed from the website but archived at Gas and Oil News, Central Asia.
  24. Penspen, 2008, “Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan Gas Pipeline Project Techno-Economic Feasibility Study for Gas Supply to Pakistan and India Asian Development Bank.”
  25. House of Commons Defence Committee (UK), “The contribution of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles to ISTAR capability”, Thirteenth Report of Session 2007–08, HC 535, 5 August, 2008.
  26. BAE Systems, “HERTI: Next Generation Autonomous Systems”, news release, no date.
  27. Tim Bowler, “BAE spyplane eyes commercial sector”, BBC News Online, 20 July, 2006.
  28. Ministry of Defence Developments, Concepts and Doctrines Centre, “The DCDC Strategic Trends Programme: 2007-2036”, 23 January, 2007, London: MoD, archived at Prison Planet.
  29. Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, “Transatlantic leadership for a new era: Speech by NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer at the Security and Defence Agenda”, NATO, 26 January, 2009.
  30. For the shocking interpretation, see Ben Smith and Arabella Thorp, “Interpretation of Security Council Resolution 1973 on Libya”, House of Commons Library, Standard Note SN/IA/5916, 6 April, 2011.
  31. Kenneth Roth cited in Human Rights Watch, “US: Clarify Position on Targeted Killings”, 7 December, 2010.
  32. Human Rights Watch, “Annual Global Report: Country summary – Pakistan”, January, 2010, NY: HRW.
  33. M. Spence, “Secret tape of Blackwater founder exposed”, The Times, 5 May, 2010, available for free at RAWA.
  34. Cited in S. Lindqvist and L. Haverty Rugg, “Bombing the Savages”, Transition, No.87, 2001, pp.48-64.
  35. Col. Tamzy J. House, Lt. Col. James B. Near, Jr., LTC William B. Shields, Maj. Ronald J. Celentano, Maj. David M. Husband, Maj. Ann E. Mercer, Maj. James E. Pugh, “Weather as a Force Multiplier: Owning the Weather in 2025”, Air Force 2025, August, 1996.
  36. United states Army, “Voice-to-Skull”, no date, archived at Federation of American Scientists.
  37. Dennis Kucinich, “The Space Preservation Act (2001)”, House of Representatives, 107th Congress 1st Session, HR 2977 IH, 2 October, 2001.
  38. Federation of American Scientists, “Russian parliament concerned about US plan to develop new weapon”, Document No. FBIS-SOV-2002-0808, 8 August, 2002.
  39. Maj Britt Theorin (Rapporteur), “Report on the environment, security and foreign policy”, European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs, Security and Defence Policy, DOC_EN\RR\370\370003 PE 227.710/fin., Resolution A4-0005/99, 14 January, 1999.
  40. Mrs Wallström, “Parliamentary questions”, E-1453/2003, OJ C 33 E, 06/02/2004 (p. 121), 3 July, 2003.
  41. David Hambling, “Pentagon Scientists Target Iran’s Nuclear Mole Men”, Wired, 12 January, 2010.
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