Friday, January 22, 2010

Afghanistan: 'Public statements misleading'

Petroleum economist ties Canadian presence in Afghanistan to pipeline
Georgia Straight: Why has Canada spent eight years in Afghanistan? ... According to John Foster, a petroleum economist with 40 years experience in international development, a big part of the answer is energy... A 'new great game' is emerging, Foster said. The United States, Europe, Russia, China and Iran, are all vying for control over oil and natural gas deposits and transit routes.

Afghanistan holds a significant geographic position in this game... Turkmenistan (to Afghanistan's north) holds the third-largest natural gas reserves in the world... 'The Russians are planning new pipelines north, the Chinese are building new pipelines east, the United States is promoting pipelines west to Europe and south through Afghanistan, to Pakistan and India.'...

He continued, 'Pipelines are important today in the same way that railway building was important in the 19th century. They connect trading partners and they influence the regional balance of power. The pipeline route is critical.'

Foster went on to dispel many of the government's long-stated reasons for staying in Afghanistan... noting that the $7.6 billion project is expected to run right through Kandahar, where Canadian forces have encountered heavy resistance and suffered many casualties.

'One has to listen very carefully these days, Foster said. 'Lots of public statements are technically accurate, but misleading. Talking heads say, 'Afghanistan is not about oil.' And that is literally true. The pipeline plan through Afghanistan is for natural gas. And I've heard diplomats say, 'Canada is not involved in the project.' And that is misleading. It is a multinational project sponsored by the Asian Development Bank, and Canada is a proud member of that bank.'

Near the end of his presentation, Foster turned somber. 'Do Canadians want to be involved in NATO wars around the world?' he asked. 'Do we want the militarization of energy? There is a high price to pay in dollars, lives, and morality.'
Image source here.