Saturday, July 30, 2011

Why Afghanistan?

On Thursday's Daily Show, the guest was Peter Tomsen, a former U.S. Special Envoy and expert on Afghanistan.  Now, there are probably many Daily Show interviews, and many other such interviews from other sources, that I could use to make the point I am about to argue, but I just happened to "feel like it" this time.  So there was nothing particularly special about this interview.

The general point I want to raise is:  such a distorted view of the world has been constructed and promulgated, that even the "experts" are often clueless and misguided.  Never trust an expert.  Or at least, never trust an expert just because they are an expert.  Do your own research so that you can evaluate claims with reference to your own knowledge base.

The Peter Tomsen interview demonstrated the ineptitude of experts quite well.  For example, he suggests that there has been so much interest in Afghanistan because it is located on a plateau, which gives its occupier strategic military advantage.  Even Jon could see the ridiculousness of this proposition, it seemed from his jokes.  It is, in fact, quite an outmoded understanding of geopolitical strategy.

The salience of things like geographical features, or even oil, is not what it used to be.  What matters now is having neocolonial control over other governments so that they willingly "open" their markets to foreign investment and create projects that enable or require the involvement of multinational corporations.  (In Afghanistan, for example, whether intended or unintended consequence, the infrastructural devastation cause by all of the wars has actually allowed some corporations to profit enormously from reconstruction efforts.)  I have argued before that "Islamic extremists," such as the Taliban, are only threatening to the United States when they refuse to cooperate with the U.S. and its corporate interests.  Otherwise, the U.S. is all to happy to openly or covertly support Islamist groups.  It is clear, then, what the true strategic interest is.

Probably the most laughable and blatantly false thing that Tomsen said was that the Pakistani government has control over the ISI.  Expert on what now?

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