Troubled Soldiers and Harmful Projects: Ten Years in Afghanistan

At FPIF, Shukria Dellawar and Antonia Juhasz describe the quiet privatization of massive amounts of resources in Afghanistan:

Afghanistan’s known hydrocarbons are primarily located in the North. Its approximately 1.6 billion barrels of crude oil and 15.7 billion cubic feet of natural gas are minor in comparison to the resources of its neighbors (Iraq’s oil reserves are estimated at 115 billion barrels), but are comparable to those in nations such as Chad and Equatorial Guinea —and may be considerably larger, as there has been no significant exploration in decades.

Unknown to most Afghans, in January 2009 the government implemented a new Hydrocarbon Law that transforms its oil and natural gas sectors from fully state-owned to all but fully privatized. In April 2011, the Afghanistan Ministry of Mines launched the first of what it expects to be “several tenders for Afghanistan’s oil and gas resources over the next few years.”

If there is anything that Afghans never had a choice following their country’s role as immediate 9/11 scapegoat, was that corporate involvement from the West would follow the armies of the Operation Enduring Freedom.

It is unlikely that Pentagon strategists sending U.S. troops half a world away are spending much time thinking about their attitudes, but they reveal a military that is confused about whether Iraq and Afghanistan merited all their investment and sacrifice. From the latest Pew numbers:

Among all adults in the new Pew survey, 41% say that, considering the costs versus the benefits to the United States, the war in Afghanistan has been worth fighting, while 52% say it has not. Of the war in Iraq, 36% of Americans say it has been worth it and 57% say it has not. Fewer than three-in-ten Americans, 28%, say both wars have been worth fighting; 45% say neither has been worth it.

As noted, half of post-9/11 veterans (50%) say the war in Afghanistan has been worth fighting; 42% say it has not. And 50% of that group says Iraq has not been worth it, compared with 44% who view it positively. About as many post-9/11 veterans say neither war has been worth fighting (33%) as view both as being worthwhile (34%).

At IPS, we are strongly on the side of decreases on military spending, internationalism based on international law and the United Nations, and local investment that gives our local communities the support they need.

Join us today at the event War Voices: Ten Years of War in Afghanistan. After 10 Years of War in Afghanistan join people building community after a decade of struggle at home and abroad. St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church, 6:30-9:30pm.