Afghanistan is Key to Oil Profits
by Karen Talbot ICPJ
Centre for Research on Globalisation (CRG), globalresearch.ca
7 November 2001
Everything in our world has changed dramatically since the horrific terrorist attacks on September 11, which caused the deaths of over 5,000 innocent people, the suffering of tens of thousands of the victims' families and friends and enormous grief among Americans and people everywhere. An outpouring of sympathy sounded from all over the world. There was universal agreement that such terrorism is a scourge against humankind and must end.
Thus the possibilities for indeed accomplishing that goal seemed within reach-if handled multilaterally through the United Nations, the World Court and international law, to bring to justice those responsible for this heinous crime. Terrorism-the targeting of innocent civilians-is an abomination that never has helped the just struggles of oppressed and suffering peoples. To the contrary, terrorism always serves to set back those struggles and ultimately benefits a small elite who find ways to benefit from such acts. That is why, throughout history, terrorism often has been used as a provocation.
The overwhelming worldwide mood for united action to end terrorism was not a desire to launch a war against Afghanistan or any other country. As many New Yorkers pleaded: "Don't mistake our cries of grief as calls for war." Yet, with the acquiescence of Congress, but without backing from the U.N. Security Council, President Bush launched the current relentless bombing of Afghanistan to "get" Osama bin Laden whom, it is said, is being harbored and protected by the Taliban rulers of that country. This "war on terrorism," we are told, may "endure" endlessly and in places beyond Afghanistan about which neither we nor our congressional representatives are being informed. The sovereignty of nations was wiped out with one brief phrase, "you are either with us or you are against us," leaving open the probability that any country deemed "not with us" could be bombed by the U.S military. The U. N. Charter and international law be damned. The spreading of anthrax through the U.S. mails understandably has further terrorized people. So, Bush has been given virtual carte blanche to do what he wants to fight this war, not only by Congress but by an alarmed and fearful U.S. public. An anti-terrorism bill has zoomed through both houses of Congress and has been signed by the president. It is unleashing a new McCarthyite witch-hunt. "Homeland defense" is likely to result in deploying active duty military in the cities and towns across the U.S.
In this atmosphere it becomes more and more difficult to raise fundamental questions about the decision to rain bombs and missiles on a country still in a feudal time warp, a country already in rubble and "target poor" from decades of war where the terrain is strewn with land mines-perhaps the greatest number anywhere in the world. Add to these abominations the use by the U.S. military of cluster bombs designed to target people. Many of the thousands of bomblets from these sinister weapons remain unexploded until touched-like land mines. The most vulnerable are the children. The U.S. attack is inevitably causing many casualties among ordinary civilians-men, women children, the young, the old.
But if this barbarism were not enough, the New York Times has reported that 7 to 8 million Afghanis face starvation, homelessness, and exposure in a situation being created by the bombing which also is preventing U.N. and international relief agencies from their deliveries of massive amounts of desperately needed food. This looming catastrophe is the immediate and most compelling reality of the relentless U.S. attacks.(1)
These civilians are not the Taliban, they are not Osama bin Laden's forces. The horror of the deaths of such multitudes of innocent people in Afghanistan greatly compounds the horror of the deaths of 5,000 innocent people in the U.S. Tens of millions of inhabitants of Islamic countries increasingly see this as a vengeful response essentially aimed at the entire Muslim world. If the "war on terrorism" continues on this course it can only lead to escalating violence. Already it has emboldened Israel to step up its attacks, greatly augmenting the ever-growing Palestinian death toll. A third world war is being incubated in an environment where nuclear weapons are more likely than ever to be used. In an interview on CNN, . Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said he would not rule out anything, when asked about the use of nuclear weapons in this war. (2)
The Taliban, on several occasions, offered to turn over Osama bin Laden to a third country for trial, once the case against him was made known. The Bush administration rejected this outright, making no effort to explore that possibility or to negotiate. Would it not have been far more preferable to at least try that solution rather than proceeding to bomb, causing untold deaths of civilians, jeopardizing the lives of U.S. troops, alienating a large proportion of the world's population, and risking a wider world war?
The U. N. Charter requires exhausting all peaceful means for solving problems before resort to war.
Terrorism and oil
By putting various pieces of the puzzle together we begin to get a picture of what really is going on. For example, we see that the groundwork for the current U.S. military actions in Afghanistan was being built up for several years. What comes into focus is that the September 11th terrorist attacks have provided a qualitatively new opportunity for the U.S., acting particularly on behalf of giant oil companies, to permanently entrench its military in the former Soviet Republics of Central Asia, and the Transcaucusus where there are vast oil reserves-the second largest in the world. The way is now open to jump start projects for oil and gas pipelines through Afghanistan and Pakistan to Karachi on the Arabian Sea-the best and cheapest route for transporting those fuels to market. Afghanistan, itself, also has considerable amounts of untapped oil and gas, as does Pakistan. (3)
Some say Washington is motivated by the necessity of guaranteeing a steady supply of oil for U.S. consumers which explains its interest in Central Asia, the Middle East and elsewhere. In reality, the U.S. relies heavily on domestic sources and on Venezuela, which is the biggest source of U.S. imports. Fifteen percent of imported oil comes from Africa. (4) No. This is about oil corporation profits which can be greatly enhanced by selling to energy-hungry South and Southeast Asia, and by outflanking China and Russia for that Central Asian-Caspian Sea Basin oil and natural gas. Newly discovered huge oil reserves in Kazakhstan could easily be piped through existing conduits traversing Russia. Bypassing, and thus hindering, Russian petroleum operations which rely heavily on European customers, would provide western corporations another benefit. They would gain greater access to the European market. Building the Afghanistan pipeline would also mean spurning an even more direct route to the Persian Gulf through Iran. This helps to thwart the growing cooperation between Iran and Russia. The "Great Oil Game"
All of this echos "the great game" played over the petroleum resources of this region between British and Russian empires in the 19th century. The modern version-the "new great game"-is a major agenda behind the current war. This is sharply delineated in an article in the San Francisco Chronicle entitled "Energy Future Rides on U.S. War, -Conflict centered in world's oil patch," by Frank Viviano.
Viviano asserts, "[B]eyond current issues and strategies...the hidden stakes in the war against terrorism can be summed up in a single word: oil." He continues: "The map of terrorist sanctuaries and targets in the Middle East and Central Asia is also, to an extraordinary degree, a map of the world's principal energy sources in the 21st century. The defense of these energy resources-rather than a simple confrontation between Islam and the West-will be the primary flash point of global conflict for decades to come..." "It is inevitable that the war against terrorism will be seen by many as a war on behalf of America's Chevron, Exxon, and Arco; France's TotalFinaElf; British Petroleum; Royal Dutch Shell and other multinational giants, which have hundreds of billions of dollars of investment in the region. There is no avoiding such a linkage or the rising tide of anger it will produce in developing nations already convinced they are victims of a conspiratorial collaboration between global capital and U.S. military might."(5)
Globalization and military might
None of this should surprise us. It is now openly admitted that U.S. foreign policy is aimed at promoting and backing up corporate investments and globalization through military might and covert and overt interventions around the world. The "U.S. Space Command in its "Vision of 2020" brochure describes its goal as, "dominating the space dimension of military operations to protect U.S. interests and investments. In their report they say: "The globalization of the world economy will also continue, with a widening gap between "haves and "have-nots." Therefore, the U.S. will be "challenged regionally" and needs to "dominate" future battlefields. Thomas Friedman, writing in the New York Times, also put it bluntly: "The hidden hand of the market will never work without a hidden fist. McDonald's cannot flourish without McDonnell Douglas, the designer of the F-15. And the hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon Valley's technologies is called the United States Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps."(6) As never before, these foreign and military policies are being carried out by top government leaders from the President and Vice President to CIA officials, who have direct ties to the corporations and banks which stand to derive profits from them. This is particularly true of the oil, energy, banking, and military/aero-space sectors.
The very nature of the system inevitably drives corporations to expand or die. This will be done at any cost, no matter the suffering it may bring to human beings or the devastation it unleashes upon the environment. Such are the characteristics of today's imperialism, the source of war, terrorism and violence.
Why the Taliban?
The media has been focusing increasingly on the Taliban and less and less on Osama bin Laden and his Al Queda group. We are being barraged with stories about carpet bombing and wonder weapons aimed at routing the Taliban. At the same time, we hear how the U.S. is working with the Northern Alliance against the Taliban and about plans to set up a new post-war government. It certainly is not clear how all of this is supposed to help "get" bin Laden. In what fundamental ways do the disparate factions of the Northern Alliance differ from the Taliban? They were all mujahideen, trained, armed and financed by the Pakistan intelligence service ( ISI), the CIA and Saudi Arabia to fight the Soviets. (See Part II) They have been battling among themselves since that time. Furthermore, Washington and U.S.-based Unocal Oil Corporation, have been maintaining ongoing relations with the Taliban even after it took power in 1996 until very recently. So why go after the Taliban?
Unocal and Afghanistan
John J. Maresca, vice president of Unocal, revealed the high stakes in Afghanistan in his testimony before a House of Representatives committee on Feb. 12, 1998:
".The Caspian region contains tremendous untapped hydrocarbon reserves, much of them located in the Caspian Sea basin itself...The region's total oil reserves may reach more than 60 billion barrels of oil... Some estimates are as high as 200 barrels...
"[An] option is to build a pipeline south from Central Asia to the Indian Ocean...The only other possible route option is across Afghanistan which has its own challenges...The territory across which the pipeline would extend is controlled by the Taliban, an Islamic movement that is not recognized as a government by most other nations...
"[C]onstruction of our proposed pipeline cannot begin until a recognized government is in place... In spite of this, a route through Afghanistan appears to be the best option with the fewest technical obstacles...[The route ] is the one that would bring Central Asian oil closest to Asian markets and thus would be the cheapest in terms of transporting the oil."(7) Yet, a major reason for Washington's support of the Taliban between 1994 and 1997 was the expectation that the Taliban would swiftly conquer the whole country and make it possible for Unocal to build a pipeline through Afghanistan. Pakistan, the U.S., and Saudi Arabia "are responsible for the very existence and maintenance of the Taliban."(8)
As reported in the San Francisco Chronicle, Central Asian expert Ahmed Rashid, in his book, "Taliban, " said: "Impressed by the ruthlessness and willingness of the then-emerging Taliban to cut a pipeline deal, the State Department and Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency agreed to funnel arms and funding to the Taliban in their war against the ethnically Tajik Northern Alliance. As recently as 1999, U.S. taxpayers paid the entire annual salary of every single Taliban government official..."(9)
In fact, Unocal had secured agreement from the Taliban to build the pipeline, according to Hugh Pope, writing in the Wall Street Journal. (10) Even recently the Taliban newspaper, the Kabul Times, quoted [U.S. Company, Central Asia Oil and Gas Industry] representative, Rafiq Tadgar as saying: "Central Asia Oil and Gas Industry is ready to invest in Afghanistan in the field of oil and gas extraction and meanwhile is willing to build a gas and oil refinery in Afghanistan.'(11)
Furthermore, the Washington Post on May 25, 2001, reported: "Last week [the U.S.. government] pledged another $43 million in assistance to Afghanistan, [meaning the Taliban] raising total aid this year to $124 million and making the United States the largest humanitarian donor to the country."(12) This was less than four months before the September 11th attacks.
An article in the British newspaper the Daily Mirror, by John Pilger, points out: "When the Taliban took Kabul in 1996, Washington said nothing. Why? Because Taliban leaders were soon on their way to Houston, Texas, to be entertained by executives of the oil company, Unocal.
"With secret U.S. government approval, the company offered them a generous cut of the profits of the oil and gas pumped through a pipeline that the Americans wanted to build from the Soviet central Asia through Afghanistan. "A U.S. diplomat said, 'The Taliban will probably develop like the Saudis did.' He explained that Afghanistan would become an American oil colony, there would be huge profits for the West, no democracy and the legal persecution of women. 'We can live with that', he said.
"Although the deal fell through, it remains an urgent priority of the administration of George W. Bush, which is steeped in the oil industry. Bush's concealed agenda, is to exploit the oil and gas reserves in the Caspian basin... Only if the pipeline runs through Afghanistan can the Americans hope to control it.
"So, not surprisingly, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell is now referring to 'moderate' Taliban, who will join an American-sponsored 'loose-federation' to run Afghanistan. The "war on terrorism" is a cover for this: a means of achieving American strategic aims..."(13)
Even if the Northern Alliance were to be able to seize power, "Pakistan's ethnic Pashtun government will never stand the replacement of their Pashtun brothers in the Taliban by Northern Alliance Tajiks," according to Ted Rall writing in the San Francisco Chronicle. (14)
Given this history, it is baffling that the Bush administration is taking on the Taliban rather than the Northern Alliance in order to bring the requisite "stability" to the region-especially when the Taliban controls a much larger swath of the country.
One of the probable reasons is that the U.N. has continued to refuse to recognize the Taliban government. Then, of course, the Taliban are more vulnerable now because they "harbor" Osama bin Laden, thus it is much easier to get international support for bombing them. But clearly a more compelling reason may be that the Northern Alliance forces control the northern portion of the country near Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan whose governments help support the Alliance, as do Russia and India. The Northern Alliance consists largely of ethnic Uzbeks and Tajiks, whereas the Taliban is made up of Pashtun tribesmen in addition to many from Arab countries who had come to be trained and to fight in Afghanistan
Establishing Military Bases in the Former Soviet Republics
Allying themselves with the Northern Alliance undoubtedly has helped the U.S. win agreement to base troops in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan as well as secure backing from other Central Asian countries. Tajikistan and the U.S. have reached a tentative agreement under which Americans can launch air strikes against the Taliban from three former Soviet bases. Tajikistan will receive tens of millions of dollars in the deal. "The Americans also plan to inspect bases in Kyrghyzstan and Kazakhstan." (15) All of these former Soviet republics as well as Russia and India have been subjected to ongoing terrorist attacks emanating from the Taliban and Osama bin Laden forces.
They seem willing to welcome any action to thwart those attacks. The big payoff for the U.S. is the golden opportunity to establish a permanent military presence in oil-rich Central Asia- which is also wide open to another coveted resource-rich region, Siberia. Thus, realization of another goal could be closer at hand-the further balkanization of Russia and central Asian nations into easily controlled emirate-like entities, lacking any real sovereignty. All of this would be icing on the cake-the "cake" being the trans-Afghanistan pipelines with their access to and dominance of the South and Southeast Asian markets.
There could be another consideration. Afghanistan is, by far, the world's largest producer of opium and most of it comes from territory controlled by the Northern Alliance. The border area with Pakistan has become the top heroin producer, supplying 60 percent of U.S. demand. (16) Drug trade originating from this region flourished during the war against the Soviet Union and has grown exponentially since then and is linked with a vast, lucrative international crime network The conjunction between the operations of various drug and crime cartels and the conflicts and struggles for oil riches is an intimate one. That interconnection also has been a major factor in Bosnia, Kosovo and Macedonia where the U.S./NATO forces have allied themselves directly with the Bosnian Muslim Army and the KLA which are deeply involved in these drug and crime activities, as revealed in numerous articles in the European press.
Wavering support for Northern Alliance
Iddharth Varadarajan" writing in the Times of New Delhi, says the question of including Taliban "moderates" in a post-Taliban government has become a point of division between the external powers. "The real issue, say Indian officials, is that the Bush administration fears a Northern Alliance government will be closer to Moscow, New Delhi and Teheran than to Washington and its proxy, Islamabad...
"The fact that the Northern Alliance has at least three components-the Jamiat-e-Islami of Burhanuddin Rabbani and the late Ahmed Shah Masoud, the ethnic Uzbek militia of Gen Rashid Dostum and the Iran-backed militias of Ismail Khan and Hezb-e-Wahdat-further complicates the picture. The U.S. is closest to Dostum, with whom it has cultivated ties through his principal backer, Turkey. U.S. military advisers are already working closely with the general...
"In contrast, the U.S, is not overly enthusiastic about the Rabbani forces-now commanded by Gen. Mohammed Fahim-pushing southwards toward Kabul.
While Russia and India are helping Fahim, most U.S. air strikes have been designed to assist Dostum. The Fahim group has also hurt its case in Washington by saying it will oppose U.S. attempts to 'dictate' the nature of the post Taliban government" (17)
The outcome of the U.S. bombing may be the downfall of one or another of these warring factions to impose "stable"conditions for the pipelines. But it may not be the Taliban who are defeated. Hence the talk about including so-called "moderate" Taliban leaders in any new government.
The whole scenario remains complicated. The Pakistan rulers have vast connections with the Taliban whom they have established, trained, armed and funded with the help of the U.S. Taliban supporters among the Pakistani people and some political parties could threaten General Musharaff's power for "going along" with the U.S. Add to this the tremendous outpouring of popular opposition to the U.S. bombing of Afghanistan
According to an article in the San Francisco Chronicle titled, "Ally or playing both sides?", there are questions about the allegiance of the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence Agency. They point out: "Some accuse the agency of playing a double game ever since pretending to help while quietly allowing weapons to flow into Afghanistan after Sept.11..." (18)
Given all of these interwoven strands, it comes as no surprise that the Pakistan government, fearing for its own survival, apparently has continued its intimate ties with the Taliban leadership even since the bombing started. This is despite the lifting of sanctions by the U.S. and a new infusion of millions in U.S. aid which greased the way for Pakistan's ostensible support for the U.S. onslaught in Afghanistan.
Emirates and Banana Republics
Divide and conquer tactics have long been used to dismember nations and pave the way for pipelines and other conquests by transnational corporations. Historically, especially where oil is involved, the result has been to balkanize-to create or prop up small sheikdoms, emirates, banana republics, all with small populations that will make few demands over the resource revenues and where a tiny ruling elite, or monarchy, will do the bidding of the corporations while raking in huge royalties. Saudi Arabia is a classic example. The same strategy is utilized today.
In many ways, the U.S. has not been hiding its agenda to displace Russia in the Caucasus, Caspian Basin and Central Asia. This has been the goal of U.S. foreign policy for many years. If successful, Russia's ties with Europe also will be disrupted. European customers for Russian oil and gas increasingly will be forced to look elsewhere for their energy needs-namely to western oil giants. The pending construction by U.S. companies of the AMBO transBalkan pipeline which cuts across Bulgaria from the Black Sea through Macedonia and Albania to the Adriatic coast also will help accomplish that goal. One arm of the pipeline runs north toward central Europe but the U.S. corporations have positioned themselves to have control over the flow of that oil. (19)
Another major goal, clearly, is to obstruct China's access to the oil and gas of Central Asia. China has a rapidly increasing need for that source of energy. It has relatively few reserves within its borders, the largest source being in Tibet. China has joint partnership with U.S. companies for the development of its oil. As is always the case, those oil giants would much prefer to get their hands on the whole pie and not just a large slice. Potentially vast sources of petroleum and natural gas have been discovered in the South China Sea. A struggle is looming among the littoral states regarding jurisdiction over these off-shore reserves with China laying claim to a large portion of the sea including the Spratly and Paracel Islands.
Virtually taking sides in this dispute, Kellogg Brown & Root, a business unit of Halliburton Company-where Vice President Cheney served as CEO until taking office-built the largest offshore oil platform in the world for Shell Philippines. The Philippine government is one of the disputants over this region. (20)
These are all factors in the corporate frenzy to plunder oil and other resources, particularly in this petroleum-rich arch stretching from the Middle East to southeast Asia. The war in Afghanistan is central to reaping super profits from all that "black gold."
CIA spawns Taliban
Osama bin Laden's organization was incubated by the CIA in the 1980's when the largest-ever covert operation by the CIA was carried out in Afghanistan against a newly born progressive and socialist-oriented government and then against Soviet troops who had come to the defense of that government. These CIA trained mujahideen forces murdered teachers, doctors and nurses, tortured women for not wearing the veil, and shot down civilian airliners with U.S.-supplied stinger missiles. Nevertheless, many of these mujahideen probably never knew they were being funded by the CIA.
The story sold to the public by the media is that the Soviets invaded Afghanistan on December 24, 1979 and then, in response, the U.S. and some Islamic countries fought back to repel the invasion. Actually, President Jimmy Carter secretly approved CIA efforts to try to topple the government of Afghanistan in July 1979, knowing that the U.S. actions were likely to provoke Soviet intervention.
Zbigniew Brzezinski, National Security Adviser to the Carter Administration, confirmed this in an interview with the French publication Le Nouvel Observateur. The following is from the interview:
"Q- The former director of the CIA, Robert Gates, stated in his memoirs ("From the Shadows"), that American intelligence services began to aid the mujahideen in Afghanistan 6 months before the Soviet intervention. In this period you were the national security adviser to President Carter. You therefore played a role in this affair. Is that correct?
"Brzezinski- Yes. According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the mujahideen began during 1980...after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan, 24 Dec. 1979. But the reality, secretly guarded until now, is completely otherwise: Indeed , it was July 3, 1979, that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And that very day, I wrote a note to the president in which I explained to him that in my opinion this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention.....We didn't push the Russians to intervene, but we knowingly increased the probability that they would.
"Q- You don't regret anything today? "B- Regret what? That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it?"(21)
From the "horse's mouth"
A remarkable description of CIA operations in Afghanistan can be found in the book, "Victory-The Reagan Administration's Secret Strategy that Hastened the Collapse of the Soviet Union."(22) The book carries many accounts by William Casey, Director of the CIA under Reagan. It paints a vivid picture of how Casey, himself, convinced the Saudi Arabian government to match the CIA funding of the mujahideen, and how all the money, arms and training were funneled through the Pakistan Intelligence Service (ISI). Readers are told how the mujahideen were affectionately referred to as "the muj." Here's the story from "the horse's mouth:"
"The strategy [to bring down the U.S.S.R. under Reagan] attacked the very heart of the Soviet system and included...[among several other key operations] substantial financial and military support to the Afghan resistance, as well as supplying the mujahideen personnel to take the war into the Soviet Union itself...[and a] campaign to reduce dramatically Soviet hard currency earnings by driving down the price of oil with Saudi cooperation and limiting natural gas exports to the West..."(23)
Saudi matching funds
"He [Casey] informed [Saudi prince, Turki al-Fail] of Washington's plans to extend a large amount of aid to Pakistan shortly to deal with the Soviet threat. He also told the prince that he was going to push for a large increase in U.S. aid to the mujahideen....Turki offered the program his full support and agreed to continue to match the U.S. contribution dollar for dollar...The Saudis were going to boost their religious and anticommunist radio broadcasts into Afghanistan and Soviet Central Asia. (24) "In Pakistan, Casey's host would be Gen. Akhtar Abdul Rehman Khan head of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI)....[For ] forty-eight hours, Casey studied everything about the program to ship arms to the Afghan resistance. ...[He] began analyzing ways to make the war more costly for Moscow...Akhtar suggested surface to air missiles...Casey agreed to all the requests, no questions asked." (25)
Casey back in Saudi Arabia, having flown there in his secret black plane.
"One of the projects close to Fahd's heart was the effort to support Islamic movements in Soviet Central Asia. This was done through the Wahhabi clan and was top secret."(26)
"The conduit of arms was running smoothly... Arms were being purchased on the international market with Saudi money and the CIA was flying them from Dhahran to Islamabad... The CIA was also flying in weapons and ammunition.. Ten thousand tons of arms and ammunition were going through the channel every year. By 1985, this would rise to 65,000 tons. (27)
Training arms traders
"Beginning in early 1981, Casey had ordered the Directorate of Operations to seek out and recruit Afghans living overseas to help run the international conduit of arms to the rebels. By the spring of 1982, more than one hundred Afghans were trained by the CIA in the art of international arms shipping. (28)
Again in Saudi Arabia
" Casey brought up the prospect [with Fahd] of escalating the war...'What do you think about taking the Afghan war into Soviet Central Asia? '[Casey] asked..(29)
Taking the war into the U.S.S.R.
"[At an ISI command office in Pakistan meeting with Brig Mohammad Yousaf, director of the ISI's Afghan Bureau and General Akhtar. ] Casey went toward the wall map of the office..he began. 'The Soviet Union is vulnerable to ethnic tensions. It is the last multiethnic empire and eventually will face national challenges. Northern Afghanistan is a springboard to Soviet Central Asia...This is the soft underbelly of the Soviet Union. We should smuggle literature to stir dissent. Then we should ship arms to encourage local uprisings.'
"It was a shocking suggestion...Putting together a military operation and carrying it into the Soviet Union had never been done...The diplomatic and military repercussions could be colossal. Pakistan as a sponsor of the mujahideen could be a target for military retaliation. But so could its sponsor, particularly if it became known in the Kremlin that this was a Reagan initiative...Pakistan had consented to plans to attack targets inside the Soviet union...(30)
Bolstering Pakistan's Zia
"President Zia and Director Casey sat down as they had many times before. But times were more difficult now for Zia. Domestic political opposition was growing and critics of the army had somehow lost their fear. Zia was the key to the Afghan project, and keeping him in power was critical. Most of the political opposition groups were against cooperating with the United States. "The CIA was running several programs to help keep Zia in power...To reward Zia for his commitment to the Afghan cause, a new military and economic security assistance package for Pakistan was being put together in Washington. It would be worth almost $1 billion more than the previous one. Several administration officials were also working on Zia's request for high-tech weapons such as the Stinger... (31)
"From General Zia's office Casey took a bullet-proof CIA car with armed agents in tow to a military facility outside the city. Waiting were General Akhtar and Brigadier Yousaf, eager to discuss the American revision in policy toward Afghanistan. Covert Assistance was about to balloon-basically doubling in size. ...there would be more sophisticated equipment ....advanced night vision technology, special explosives and precision guided munitions....access to high-tech American intelligence. "Under the new NCS strategy, the CIA would also supply the ISI and mujahideen with an array of advanced burst communicators.(32)
Training tens of thousands of mujahideen
"Mujahideen fighters were...becoming more proficient thanks to numerous schools established in 1985 to train fighters in weapons used. Two-week courses in anti-tank and anti-aircraft guns, mine laying and lifting, demolitions, urban warfare and sabotage were offered for thousands of fighters. Twenty thousand mujahideen were being pumped out every year by these schools dubbed 'CIA U' by some wags...(33)
"The specially trained units working inside the Soviet Union would be equipped with ... rocket launchers and high-tech explosives provided by the CIA. They were to seek out Soviet civilian and military targets for sabotage. They would hit Soviet industrial sites, derails some trains and fire rockets at Soviet military installations...(34)
"Pakistani soldiers at an air base outside Islamabad started unpacking some very delicate cargo in early July Inside the ordinary looking crates were the 'wonder weapons' the mujahideen had been waiting for. The Reagan administration was fulfilling its promise-the first shipment of Stinger missiles had arrived...." (35)
"By late 1986, reports of mujahideen activity inside the Soviet Union began coming back to Washington. Mujahideen commanders ...By night the systems would be set up on the southern bank of the Amu to fire volleys across the river, bringing down a rain of explosives on Soviet soil. Teams specially trained by the ISI and equipped by the CIA were making their way across the Amur to the Soviet border posts, lay mines and knock down power lines. An airfield just north of the Soviet town of Pyandzh was repeatedly hit by mujahideen commandos. Strikes were secretly launched from Jowzjan and Badakhshan provinces...In early December 1986, some thirty mujahideen crossed the Amu in Zodiac boats to attack two hydroelectric facilities in Tajikistan..." (36)
Soviets refused provocation for wider war
This is just a small taste of the details revealed in "Victory," including the shocking information about actual CIA military operations carried out on Soviet territory against the U.S.S.R. The nuclear-armed Soviets showed incredible restraint and refrained from being provoked into a wider war. There is another critical fact that surfaced in intervening years: The Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI)-a British-Pakistani bank which used secret offshore accounts for global money laundering and which victimized many to the tune of $8 billion before it was shut down in 1991. It was the conduit for funding of the mujahideen in Afghanistan. There is no doubt that many who are members of bin Laden's network know all about laundering money through the international bank secrecy system. (37)
Anything goes in the name of anti-communism
The inescapable reality is that the U.S. was fully backing repressive, undemocratic regimes like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, while trying to bring down the Soviet Union, allegedly because it was repressive and undemocratic. In the process the U.S. was willing to do away with democracy and risk nuclear war. It is clear that the real reasons for opposing the U.S.S.R. were economic-the fact that their economic system shut off the possibilities for corporate investments and expansion. When it came to Central Asian petroleum riches, this was particularly rankling. They were using the abundance of their nation for the people instead of for profit.
Progressive and left forces in Afghanistan have been physically destroyed. So, too, have many millions in countries around the world in such genocidal acts as the slaughter of one million communist and left activists in Indonesia. This has resulted in a situation where working and oppressed people who are trying to struggle to eliminate their desperate economic and political suffering, have little access to the answers or options presented by the left and progressive forces. In these circumstances fascistic, right-wing religious fundamentalist forces appear to be "the only game in town." Thus, many will turn to them for solutions to society' s ills. Nevertheless, at this terrible crisis point in history, a vast worldwide movement for peace is developing which increasingly is melding with the rapidly burgeoning opposition to the transnational corporations and U.S.-orchestrated globalization. This anti-corporate movement includes labor which has been staging massive general strikes against the effects of globalization in countless countries involving tens of millions of workers. Therefore, while the dangers are unprecedented, there is also very real potential for stopping this barbaric war and truly bringing about basic economic and social changes so desperately needed by the great majority of the world's population, including in the U.S. This is the only road to ending terrorism and bringing lasting security and peace.
© Karen Talbot, ICPJ, For fair use only.