The reasons given by Obama for the escalation are half-truths and lies—above all, the claim that it is a response to the threat of terrorism. This war is a continuation of the struggle for domination of oil-rich Central Asia, the stakes of which—pipeline routes, control of international commerce, military advantage—have motivated all of the US wars of the last 25 years. One could easily quote countless analyses of think tanks and US foreign policy experts establishing the strategic significance for US imperialism of this region—the crossroads between China, Russia, the Indian subcontinent and the Middle East.
The region has long been a central preoccupation of the American ruling class. This year marks the 30th anniversary of Washington’s first major intervention in Afghanistan—its 1979 decision to destabilize a Soviet-backed regime in Kabul with the aim of provoking a Soviet invasion. After the Kremlin invaded, Washington financed and armed anti-Soviet mujahedin commanders and rural notables, from whom today’s Afghan ruling elite of narco-warlords emerged.
In his interview on “Fox News Sunday,” Gates responded to a question about Pakistani intelligence links to anti-US insurgent forces in Afghanistan by noting his own personal involvement in the 1980s in “helping make sure that some of those same groups got weapons from our safe haven in Pakistan.”
After the collapse of the USSR, the US continued its intrigues in the region, initially backing the Taliban in the 1990s and then invading Afghanistan to overthrow them after the September 11 attacks.
As with every previous war launched by Washington, Obama’s intervention only sets into motion developments that will generate further, even more dangerous conflicts. Russia will view US escalation in Afghanistan with alarm. Building US supply lines to Afghanistan that avoid the war zones in Pakistan will mean increasing US influence in areas where Russia has powerful strategic interests: the Caucasus, ex-Soviet Central Asia, and possibly Iran. This comes only a few months after Washington nearly provoked a war by supporting an attack by its puppet regime in Georgia on Russian peacekeepers in South Ossetia.
The longstanding enmity between Muslim Pakistan and majority-Hindu India notwithstanding, Pakistan’s descent towards chaos and civil war will pose serious threats to India. US missile strikes will further roil the Indo-Pakistani border conflict in Kashmir, and they will inflame right-wing Muslim opinion which the Pakistani state mobilizes to aid guerillas in Indian Kashmir. Besides threatening the vulnerable position of India’s Muslim minority, this brings with it the risk of a fourth Indo-Pakistani war, this time between two nuclear-armed states.
As US-China tensions mount over China’s reluctance to keep funding US deficits and propping up the dollar, an American intervention in Pakistan—China’s main ally in the Indian subcontinent—will intensify the risk of an American confrontation with China.
Obama’s plan exposes the connection between US militarism and the decayed state of American democracy. Overwhelming popular opposition to war is routinely ignored and violated. Obama’s plan was adopted without congressional authorization or public debate. read article