Zbigniew Brzezinski says
“We are in Afghanistan because we have been there for 8 years, now getting out is easy to say, but by now if we get out, quickly, the question arises, what follows?…”
The important things to note is we have been there longer than that, and he is correct in the what follows.
Journalist Ahmed Rashid, a long-time expert on Pakistan and Afghanistan, will later write in a book about the Taliban that the US supported the Taliban in its early years. “Between 1994 and 1996, the USA supported the Taliban politically through its allies Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, essentially because Washington viewed the Taliban as anti-Iranian, anti-Shia, and pro-Western. Between 1995 and 1997, US support was even more driven because of its backing for the Unocal [pipeline] project.”
So we venture yet again around the entrance to a rabbit hole, the important thing to notice is why invading Iraq was our worst strategic blunder, and of course why tensions have risen between Iran and Saudi Arabia given the Shia friendly government in Iraq today.
Anyway, let us return to Brzezinski,
“We have to find a way of helping Pakistan cope with its problem in Pakistan but also help us cope with our problem in Afghanistan and that raises an extraordinarily complicated question, namely how do we give the Pakistanis the reassurance they want that if we leave Afghanistan there is not a regime in Afghanistan other than the Taliban which is more friendly to India than to Pakistan.”
So what does India have to do with it, you ask in your best, “I never heard of Ken Lay,” voice, which is a very good question since that will lead us to the Chinese.
India and Afghanistan historically have shared close cultural and political ties, and the complexity of their diplomatic history reflects this fact. India supported successive governments in Kabul until the rise of the Taliban in the 1990s, and was among the first non-Communist states to recognize the government installed by the Soviet Union after its 1989 invasion. But like most countries, India never recognized the Taliban’s assumption of power in 1996 (only Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and the United Arab Emirates recognized the Taliban regime). Following the 9/11 attacks and the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan that resulted, ties between India and Afghanistan grew strong once again.
So now Pakistan may feel as though they are being surrounded by India, which is not a good thing considering the current situation in Pakistan. Pakistans most reliable ally in the region is China, which has fought a border war with India and still has disputes with them in the disputed Kashmir region, which is currently a sore point between Pakistan and India.
But what has this to do with Ken Lay you inquire,
In the second, Pepe Escobar cautions ”but one thing is the Obama administration’s priorities; another is the agenda of ‘full spectrum dominance’ types at the Pentagon and the CIA…Chaos in Iranian Balochistan derails the [Iran-Pakistan] pipeline – something that is an absolute priority for full spectrum dominance: Washington wants its horse, the Trans-Afghan (TAP) pipeline, to win at all costs. A ‘victory’ of the IP pipeline means Gwadar port in [Pakistani] Balochistan falling into China’s orbit, not the US’s” (Jundallah versus the mullahtariat).
So now I understand the war party’s concern with the rising Chinese military power, which as I have noted is less of a problem than the economic sphere of influence, because guns are cool, but buttering your bread now that’s just almost orgasmic, but I digress.
Well now I’m lost, but I have a strange desire for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich,
The U.S. has been pursuing better relations with India, even allowing them to ignore international nuclear agreements. But it remains to be seen if the U.S.-Indian relationship can replace the U.S.-China relationship, America’s most important relationship to date. From an economic, political, and military significance standpoint it is evident that China will remain in the center of U.S. foreign policy in Asia for years to come, regardless of the disagreements over yuan value.
So, what then can be the reason for the friction? Realism says that we should look to the fundamental issues of international security. In this case, the only true source of friction in South Asia is the relationship between Pakistan and India. China has long balanced Pakistan against India to ensure that India diverts resources away from its Northern border with China and to its border with Pakistan.
As noted here,
Since 2001, India has offered $1.2 billion for Afghanistan’s reconstruction, making it the largest regional donor to the country.
Which Pakistan considers to be its’ strategic fall back position if it should get into and loose a war with India, a thing which would probably not please the Chinese.
So I don’t know why we are there precisely, but I can see why we aren’t leaving either. Those are the wheels within wheels in the region. Some would argue because of the attacks of September 11, 2001, which is what most Americans accept as the motivation. But I think it goes beyond that historically, politically, and economically, none of which gets us out of the situation we are currently in. It is a hot war of narrow scope at the moment, and we are there to keep it so. But that is the outline of why so many players, including various American players, seem to be working at counter purpose. They have different economic, political and historical aspirations that we have managed to become entangled in by previous governments and players of the many nations involved in the region.