Riposte – By Sumner Burstyn.American actor and activist Peter Coyote wondered last week if he was the only person old enough to remember Dick Cheney inviting the Taliban to the White House. “It was to discuss a gas pipeline from Turkmenistan’s Dauletabad gas field, across Afghanistan to the North-western town of Fazlika in India. A stable Afghanistan was the key to this treasure, which would be selling gas to the emerging markets in India and China. I’ve not heard a word about it since, but it is patently incredible to me that the US spent a trillion dollars to kill Osama with no further motive than revenge.”Mr. Coyote goes on to comment that he cannot imagine any other outcome for these riches than internecine warfare, and warlords competing to strike deals with international developers.
When you put it like that and view a map of the vast mineral wealth up for grabs in Afghanistan and read the analysis on Who What Why you might begin to think differently about New Zealand’s role in America’s war there.
Is John Key’s government fooling themselves that New Zealand’s involvement in Afghanistan is about building democracy and keeping the world safe from terrorism? Or are they only fooling the public and the men and women of the NZ Defence Force who are dying for American access to these resources?
As New Zealand and the US begin to pull out of the Middle East region a cynical person might suggest the entire Afghanistan theatre has been about creating enough of the kind of post-conflict mess that can only be cleaned up by thousands of private contractors who increasingly assume responsibility for the protection of supply chains. The Center for Security Studies value of US logistics contracts over the coming decade (2010-2020) could reach $150 billion.
If you understand the military-industrial complex to be the unholy alliance of governments and corporations then you could be forgiven for thinking the war against Afghanistan was really just an overture to enable the privatizing of violence to secure, extract and transfer mineral wealth.
Taking the long view the campaign might even seem like a pretty smart business plan, especially once the privateers move in, freed as they are from the bad PR and the moral conundrum of dead soldiers. And certainly with all that mineral wealth at stake it gives extra meaning to the term ‘cleaning up.’ Which leaves you wondering – what will the US do with their redundant war machine now the focus is coming off the Middle East?
The New York Times reports the US has a new Asia-Pacific strategy. They call it ‘regional rebalancing’. As part of that, the US Armed Forces is drawing up plans to place combat equipment in storage in the Pacific region so that it will be available for training exercises and on short notice in time of crisis.
Perhaps that’s what US Defence Secretary Leon E. Panetta will be discussing when he visits New Zealand this week. After all with Australia slated to host US Marine Corps training exercises it’s doesn’t seem fair they should hog all the warmongering limelight.
The planned movement of used equipment and cool new stuff such as aerial refuelling tankers, air-borne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems and bombers is one thing. But if you combine that with the defocus on the Middle East and the relocation of resources to the ‘Asia-Pacific pivot’ it makes you wonder if there’s a new war in the planning stages.
As the ancient Latin proverb says Si vis pacem, para bellum, “If you wish for peace, prepare for war.” Imagine, it might even come to our little corner of the world.