The Sinister Dissembling of Jerome A Paris 44

A contributor to The Daily Kos, Jerome a Paris, has dismissed as “Conspiracy Theory” the notion that US policy in Afghanistan is in any way motivated by a desire to access Central Asian gas reserves via a trans-Afghanistan pipeline. He starts by referencing a Daily Kos entry about me, which he then seeks to “Debunk”.

Plainly the infinitely wise Jerome is right, and the whole Trans Afghan Pipeline project is merely a figment of my imagination. Oh, and the imagination of the BBC as well. And the imagination of the Afghan, Pakistani and Turkmen Governments.

Plainly also I only imagined, as British Ambassador, being briefed on the proposed pipeline as a vital Western strategic interest. Equally plainly, I simply imagined all that stuff about the involvement of George Bush and Enron, for which there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever.

I am very grateful to the wise Jerome for pointing out that Afghanistan is not the only potential route for transiting Central Asian gas while bypassing Russia. Iran is the most ovbious route, but strangely the US is not keen. The other route is through Georgia and Azerbaijan. But Putin has Azerbaijan locked tight against the pipeline. The father of President Aliev of Azerbaijan was Putin’s old KGB boss, and the two are very close. While the proposed route as it passes through Georgia is now under Russian military occupation. But of course that is just coincidence. To think anything else would be “Conspiracy theory”.

There is a minimum of 15 trillion – yes trillion – dollars of natural gas in Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Since 2005, Russian diplomacy has tied up the contracts for Gazprom. Before that the US had more than a foot in the door, and the US knows that what changed once can and will change again. 15 trillion dollars is worth some strategising.

Equally, Jerome’s main argument amounts to only this: as it is not currently economic in practice for anybody to be building the pipeline today, therefore it can’t be a key part of US strategic thinking. It takes only a few seconds real thought to dismiss that for the trite nonsense it is.

Let me say 15 trillion dollars again. Not to mention the fact that I have been officially briefed that it is the US strategic interest in the region. If you think about it, it would be crazy if it were not.

I have almost certainly a great deal more experience than the glib Jerome, of Central Asia, of Afghanistan, of the workings of government, and of gas pipelines. In 1986, when I started my first overseas posting in Lagos, the first file on my desk was marked “West Africa Gas Pipeline”. The WAGP delivered its first gas early this year, 23 years later. A company of which I am Chariman is just commissioning a power station to run off it. The fact little Jerome blogged “Five years ago” that the Trans Afghanistan Pipeline was not a US strategiic interest, and today it is still not built, proves nothing. These are major strategic interests and long term projects.

You can believe that the US is in Afghanistan to search for Osama Bin Laden and to back the “Democratic” Mr Karzai. Or you can believe that this war is about control of resources. The motives of Jerome a Paris are a tiny side issue, but still interesting. Is he just a little fool pre-occupied with his own supposed brilliance? Or is there a sinister reason why he attempts to throw sand in your eyes?

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44 thoughts on “The Sinister Dissembling of Jerome A Paris

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  • Neil Craig

    Strategist simply asserting that “there is no question that Iraq was 90% about oil” is not an argument & doesn’t make it so.

    You would need evidence – for example the fact that China is playing a major part in exploiting it is evidence that it is not an Anglo-American monopoly.

    Not much return on $3 trillion then!

    I grant we are told that imposing human rights/defence are always put as the primary purposes of our wars but that we will allegedly make make money from it is usually dragooned in as a back up.

    Your last paragraph shows you have completely misread my last one. If making profits or establishing UK/US/NATO in a dominant position were the objective obtaining energy security by building nuclear reactors would have been as cheap as even Rumsfeld’s projection of an oil stealing war & for the money spent in Iraq (which will probably be more than matched if we stay for decades in Afghanistan) we could have built an infrastructure that would be mining the asteroids by now producing almost unlimited wealth.

    The bravery of their soldiers & ours is irrelevent to that. The problemm is that that does not produce the artificial fears that keep us in line, quite the opposite. That is what leads to the clear conclusion that these wars are fought not to suppress them but to suppress us.

  • Kashmiri Nomad

    The only people that believe war propaganda such as the type Jerome A Paris is peddling are Americans themselves. The rest of the world long ago realised that pax Americana needed an ever lasting supply of energy. If that entailed having to go to war and killing people then so be it.

  • Neil Craig

    That is a fair point Clark. Defence contractors are certainly well entrenched at the MoD, as Douglas Carswell regularly laments & the same applies in America. As such they have a more concentrated lobby than the diffused one for us taxpayers keeping our money. Any complex activity has multiple cause & however good their lobbying the profits of spending $3 trillion are probably “only” in the $100 millions so, alone, that lobby should not be strong enough.

    The costings of space development are based on using X-Prizes which, since they are open to anybody are less likely to be lobbied for which may explain that though they have proven much more cost efective than normal methods of development, government uses them much less.

    Irrespective of who benefits financially to many in power the fact that these wars (or the war against “global warming” or most bureaucracy) take money that could make us all wealthier & more self confident seems to be an end in itself.

  • Duncan McFarlane

    Absolutely Craig, there’s a mass of evidence that the war in Afghanistan is about control of an export route for former Soviet republics’ oil and gas. On top of the $15 trillion worth you mention in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan (i hadn’t realised it was that much) there are also apparently plans to exporting some of the even larger oil and gas reserves from Kazakhstan – where Exxon-Mobil and others have been operating for over a decade – via the Uzbekistan-Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan route. (For sources and more details see

  • OrwellianUK

    This from Pepe Escobar, reporter for the Asian Times and analyst of Central Asian Geopolitics:

    “Washington’s rationale for occupying Afghanistan – never spelled out behind the cover story of “fighting Islamic extremism” – is pure Pentagon full spectrum dominance: to better spy on both China and Russia with forward outposts of the empire of bases; to engage in Pipelineistan, via the Trans-Afghan (TAPI) pipeline, if it ever gets built; and to have a controlling hand in the Afghan narco-trade via assorted warlords. Cheap heroin is literally flooding Russia, Iran and Eastern Europe. Not by accident, Moscow regards opium/heroin as the key issue to be tackled in Afghanistan, not Islamic fundamentalism.”

    So we have in order of importance:

    1. US Hegemony

    2. Gas/Oil Pipeline(s)

    3. Drugs (with accompanying money laundering)

    The full article:

    Part one of the story is linked near the top of the article.

  • Jerome a Paris

    Dear Ambassador Murray,

    I was a bit saddened to be attacked like this by you, for whom I have the utmost respect for your role in calling out the human rights abuses in Uzbekistan, so hopefully you’ll give me a chance to answer here.

    Yes, I’m nothing more than a mid-level banker, who has done project finance in the energy sector all his life (and nothing else) and has actively participated to the financing of pipelines in the former Soviet Union area and elsewhere. I’m no longer actively involved in that region (I’m mostly financing renewable energy in Westn Europe these days), so have no direct or indirect interest in that pipeline.

    My article was not to attack you personally, but to attack posters on DailyKos and elsewhere who quote you or others on these topics without understanding what they are talking about, and claim that the current war in Afghanistan is mainly about this pipeline.

    I’m fully ready to agree that lots of people are thinking about the TAP, and that lots or people would like the pipeline to happen, and I’m certainly willing to acknowledge that it colours how some people approach the region, rightly or wrongly.

    But I will stand by my case that for the foreseeable future there are just too many obstacles for that pipeline to be built or to be financed, and the big players in the game (the oil majors and big governments) know it. They may indulge the players that want it to happen or think it can happen, but it is highly unlikely that they are not aware that this pipeline will not be built for a very long time.

    Thus I very much doubt that plans for that pipeline would be enough to justify the invasion of Afghanistan, given how unlikey they are. Again, that the concept of the pipeline is taken into account in geopolitical thought on the country is one thing – that it is seen as the overriding motivation for Western involvement there is just not, in my view, serious.

    Rather than mocking or insulting me, would you be willing to respond on the substance?

  • Migeru

    To those in this comment thread who disparage Jerome as a banker I can only suggest that you read this: “3 for 3” (July 25th, 2009) []

    Now let’s go back to the issue at hand which is the Afghan pipeline…

  • Bill

    Well it seems that Turkmenistan have gotten tired of waiting for the westerners to come through. Very recently Iran and the Turkmens have completed their pipeline – and China and the Turkmens have completed their pipeline also -

    Is it coincidence that Brown is now planning to pull out of Afghanistan having now lost the gas to China?

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