Posted by: Christian | August 5, 2007

Afghanistan Is (Sort Of) Irrelevant

August 5, 2007.

For your consideration I will present two arguments: one arguing that the importance of Afghanistan is exaggerated and another arguing that Afghanistan is, and will remain, important.

                         Pic: Nothing important to see here.

          Map of Afghanistan

So……Afghanistan is not important because:

 A) The “bases” for terrorism have shifted to Pakistan, Iraq, the Middle East Europe and even to the United States and Canada. That’s with the current understanding that a built-up AQ training camp full of guys in black pajamas jumping through fiery rings is so 1997.

 B) I’m no Bonnie Boyd, but it seems to me that as an energy transit route, Afghanistan is not a great candidate. The likelihood of oil and gas from Central Asia transiting through Afghanistan and Pakistan is extremely unlikely. Can you imagine any oil company seeing a proposal for the Turkmenistan-Taliban Country-Baluchistan Pipeline Project and saying “Hmm…this seems viable”? (Yes, I know. And that just demonstrates what a second-rate has-been outfit Unocal was). You know you suck when you throw a party and the only people who show up are Bridas and Unocal. And now ten years later it’s even worse. Plus, Russia, and recently China, seem to have a good lock on the Turkmen energy sector. And why in God’s name would anybody think sending Kazakh oil or gas south is workable? No more non-viable oil conspiracy theories please. Just please, please look at stats for proven reserves in Central Asia as a percentage of the world’s total. And then look at what is already going through Russia and to a lesser extent through the Caucasus (and in the future to China based on existing agreements). There’s not much left to conspire over. I laughed along with postpolitical when they mockingly created the rally-cry “No blood for Caspian Gas.”

C) The horrid political environment in Afghanistan, which foreign entities have some role in bringing about, makes it appear that Afghan leaders are more concerned about their small circle of corrupt qawmis than about the greater good. The battle to create a viable civil society and some form of decent governance is going to be a multi-generational battle. Do “we” have the patience, resources and will for that?

D) Afghanistan has almost nothing of monetary value. It is the epitome of the resource-poor backwater.

E) Whoops. I forgot about the monetary value of opium. But that doesn’t really help. It actually hurts…a lot.

F) The historical importance of Afghanistan as a transit route to and from (Greater) India has been replaced by sea and air travel.

G) Overpopulation and environmental degradation will remain as serious obstacles to development. This ensures that Afghanistan will remain underdeveloped well into the future.

H) Is it just me or does it seem there is about to be a huge potential for an HIV problem in Afghanistan? Secret promiscuity/infidelity/prostitution plus unsafe sex plus lack of education equals Sub-Saharan Africa type HIV conditions. And yes, HIV cases have been showing up in Afghanistan. How could they not? So anyways, AIDS plus some other STDs have been shown to hugely hinder a country’s progress and development.

But……Afghanistan is important because:

A) Afghanistan is useful for maintaining a strategic presence in the region, specifically for the United States. *Cough-cough* Iran *cough-cough.* 

B) The success or failure of NATO-USA et al in Afghanistan will have an effect on whether or not NATO, and specifically the United States, is viewed as an entity that keeps its commitments (whether stated or not).

C) The opium problem gets on this side off the argument too. The opium problem is not just an Afghan problem. For obvious reasons it can not be isolated. It must be engaged. We just have to figure out something aside from hoping for a functioning state to spontaneously appear in Afghanistan.

D) The moral obligation that the United States owes to Afghanistan. Leaving Afghanistan will not make things better. In fact it would be a shameful abandonment. Far worse than the last “abandonment“.

E) The arguments about overpopulation, environmental degradation, and disease can all be used as arguments for the moral importance of helping Afghanistan.

Pic: Photographic represention of the aforementioned moral obligation.

        afghan girl

So you can look at these two arguments and do with them what you will. I lean strongly towards continued engagement, but of course with massive changes in “our” approach. Oh yeah, one more thing: meeting Afghans face-to-face will push you towards continued involvement in Afghanistan. So if you want to abandon Afghanistan just try to avoid making eye-contact on your way out.

Anyways, I’m sure there are some omissions in here somewhere. I’m still busy with foreign language learnifying so this blog post is just the result of a much-needed two hour break at a cafe, not a detailed investigation. So you know, stream of consciousness and all that.


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  1. […] Afghanistanica develops two arguments: One that says that Afghanistan’s importance is exaggerated and the other which argues that the country should not be forgotten. Share This […]


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