The Soft Underbelly Of The Afghan War

Everyone remembers Eisenhower’s admonition to Kennedy that ‘he ought to be careful of the industrial military complex.’  Most misunderstood this reply indicative of ideological bias, but a good reading of how an industrial command economy works gives credence to much worry.

What does this have to do with Afghanistan?  Especially now that the American economy is post industrialist?  Simple, we’re long gone from citizen soldiers.  The Pentagon and Defense Department are now embroiled with maintaining the interests of contractors!  This is done for a host of legal reasons, most benign especially when you understand the manpower and expertise required to run a good counterinsurgency.  Not every Marine can man and fix electric grids and water fountains.  That is outsourced.  Recent discoveries concerning Afghanistan, if not managed by a politically astute Executive will rollover for powerful interests analogous to Eisenhower’s admonition.

Until now, most of Afghanistan’s neighbors have been fighting over useless dirt and opium.  With the discovery of billion dollar mineral deposits contractors have multiplied the hazard’s of the Afghan conflict.  We simply cannot expect any cogent reconciliation progress to accompany an American success with knowledge that American contractors will work against American interests.  With the loss of a unified command structure, we can easily lose this conflict.  Kandahar will soon become a grabocracy!

Visualize a Nigeria engulfed in tribal hatred, surrounded by imperialist Shiites manning a nuclear technologic economy.  Afghanistan can end up like Conrad’s Congo, a playground for state sanctioned murder, terrorism and looting across Central Asia.

Just what was discovered?  Copper, Lithium, Cobalt, Iron and lots of Gold.  Until now, Afghanistan had nothing to offer fighting for.  Now, its Beverly Hills!  I cannot think that Washington will succumb to just leaving such strategic resources.  Perhaps Afghanistan will become an American protectorate.  We must be ready for China, Iran and Russia to take over what was so dearly won in American blood.

This news deeply conflicts with the interests of Pakistan and India combined.  Pakistan has historically preserved its links to the Taliban in preserving strategic depth inside a regional ally in the event of war with India.  New Dehli now has permanent interests in agitating war with Pakistan.

Wait it gets worse.

China will side with Pakistan.  Iran will line up behind China and Pakistan.  Pakistan will turn the heat up in Kashmir.  The Great Game of Central Asia just got hot over subsurface mineral deposits and we have no Sir Henry Rawlinson, David Livingston, H. M. Stanley or Lawrence of Arabia to access or maintain the publics interest in a permanent American presence in Central Asia.

The problem with Afghanistan is the tribal political culture that continues to dominate the region.  This is not good for Afghan future.  A stable, functioning and secure Afghanistan is the only bulwark against her imperialist enemies.  Who will secure such a state affairs absent a functioning government?  The U.N?  The Russians?  We must be realistic to defend both American interests and the interests of both Afghanistan and stability throughout Central Asia.  Are we prepared to defend the premise of American Exceptionalism on foreign soil?

Its high time to ask ourselves some difficult questions regarding our long term presence in both Afghanistan and Central Asia.  Remember, Russian, Chinese, Pakistani, Indian access to vast strategic reserves is not an answer.

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About William Holland

Systematic Theologian/International Relations
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