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A glance at a map and a little knowledge of the region suggest that the real reasons for Western military involvement may be largely hidden.
Afghanistan is adjacent to Middle Eastern countries that are rich in oil and natural gas. And though Afghanistan may have little petroleum itself, it borders both Iran and Turkmenistan, countries with the second and third largest natural gas reserves in the world. (Russia is first.)
Turkmenistan is the country nobody talks about. Its huge reserves of natural gas can only get to market through pipelines. The U.S. is pushing for "multiple oil and gas export routes." High-level Russian, Chinese and American delegations visit Turkmenistan frequently to discuss energy. The U.S. even has a special envoy for Eurasian energy diplomacy.
Pipelines are important today in the same way that railway building was important in the 19th century. They connect trading partners and influence the regional balance of power. Afghanistan is a strategic piece of real estate in the geopolitical struggle for power and dominance in the region. Since the 1990s, Washington has promoted a natural gas pipeline south through Afghanistan and the TALIBAN have visited the US on many occassions to discuss it, (see link). The route would pass through Kandahar province. The proposed pipeline is called TAPI, after the initials of the four participating countries (Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India). The main player in TAPI, is the American oil giant, UNOCAL, (based in Bush land in Texas, funny that), which has a 54% share. Afghan President Hamid Karzai worked briefly for UNOCAL, (now part of CHEVRON), when he was studying in the States. Yes! He's not just some fucker that's stepped out a tent!
A very big game is underway, with geopolitics intruding everywhere. With the U.S. surge underway and the British ambassador to Washington predicting a decades-long commitment, it's reasonable to ask: Why are the U.S. and NATO in Afghanistan? Is it to 'free' the Afghans from the Taliban, (who BTW were 'freedom fighters' when the Russians invaded), or to once more sustain the US's oil and gas supplies? I know which I believe!