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?