Kabul Bank Shows Us Afghan War is for Control Not Resources
By Staff News & Analysis - December 03, 2012

Report brands Kabul Bank a fraud … Kabul Bank, which accounted for more than a third of Afghanistan's banking assets before it was seized by the authorities two years ago, was a billion-dollar fraud for the benefit of a few well-connected Afghans, says a report "Its failure and subsequent bailout represents approximately 5-6 per cent of Afghanistan's gross domestic product, making Kabul Bank one of the largest banking failures in the world," stated Wednesday's report, funded by foreign donors, from the Independent Joint Anti-Corruption Monitoring and Evaluation Committee. "Every citizen in Afghanistan will bear the cost of the hundreds of millions of dollars required to secure deposits and the tens of millions of dollars required to deal with the aftermath," it said. – Financial Times

Dominant Social Theme: We will give Afghanistan Western tools and they will prosper with them.

Free-Market Analysis: The collapse of Kabul Bank can certainly be seen as a metaphor for the larger Afghan War. The idea was always to inflict Western style regulatory democracy on Afghanistan. This seems ever clearer in hindsight. You can see a previous article on the subject here:

The Afghan War: Just the Facts

This is an important issue given the difference of opinion within the alternative media about the reasons for such wars. The justifications advanced within the alternative media context are three:

The first one is that such wars are resource wars, led by multinational corporations. The second is that such wars are prosecuted merely for the sake of their continuance. The military-industrial complex needs an "endless war." The third perspective, the one we have adopted, is that these are wars for control.

Of course, there are other reasons advanced as well for the current war on Afghanistan. These are mainstream media rationale and include the idea that NATO needs to battle the Taliban to ensure that it doesn't take over Afghanistan again and that al Qaeda doesn't return.

But the Taliban was put out of power ten years ago and al Qaeda is said to number only 100 or so fighting individuals in the whole of Afghanistan. It doesn't make much sense that the US and NATO have spent US$1 trillion or more and committed hundreds of thousands of dollars to fighting a war to hunt down a defeated enemy and eradicate 100 or so individuals.

The resource argument proves troublesome as well, in our view. It was announced in 2010 by the Pentagon that Afghanistan had US$1 trillion in resources. But an article in Foreign Policy entitled, "Say what? Afghanistan has $1 trillion in untapped mineral resources?" states what we also believed at the time, that the announcement was political and aimed at shoring up a consensus for continuing the war.

In other words, the announcement about Afghanistan's mineral wealth was manufactured. The Foreign Policy writer put it this way:

There's less to this scoop than meets the eye. For one thing, the findings on which the story was based are online and have been since 2007, courtesy of the U.S. Geological Survey. More information is available on the Afghan mining ministry's website, including a report by the British Geological Survey (and there's more here). You can also take a look at the USGS's documentation of the airborne part of the survey here, including the full set of aerial photographs.

Nowhere have I found that $1 trillion figure mentioned, which Risen suggests was generated by a Pentagon task force seeking to help the Afghan government develop its resources (looking at the chart accompanying the article, though, it appears to be a straightforward tabulation of the total reserve figures for each mineral times the current market price). According to Risen, that task force has begun prepping the mining ministry to start soliciting bids for mineral rights in the fall …

I'm (a) skeptical of that $1 trillion figure; (b) skeptical of the timing of this story, given the bad news cycle, and (c) skeptical that Afghanistan can really figure out a way to develop these resources in a useful way. It's also worth noting, as Risen does, that it will take years to get any of this stuff out of the ground, not to mention enormous capital investment.

The resource arguments seems to have been presented by the Pentagon when it was advantageous. It was provided to justify the war, which is exactly what makes us suspicious of it. Critics of the war can continue to make the case that rapacious multinationals are behind the fighting, but we simply don't see any evidence of that. In fact, the Pentagon seems to WANT us to believe it, whether it is true or not.

The idea that the US is involved in Afghan fighting simply because the military-industrial complex needs to be put to work is perhaps a more sophisticated and credible argument. But it still doesn't make a lot of sense. If NATO and the Pentagon wanted to fight endless wars, they could fight them anywhere. Why Afghanistan and Pakistan?

We would argue that the real reason to fight in Afghanistan has to do with control of the "navel of the world." The war on terror is certainly manufactured but the powers-that-be may have put it to good use, from their perspective, regardless.

The Afghan Pashtuns and the Pakistan Punjabis are among a few tribes in the world that are not entirely subservient – at the top anyway – to Western interests.

Within this context, the failed Kabul Bank is an important element of control. The US and NATO are evidently and obviously trying hard to change the Afghan culture. Western finance, Western agriculture, Western education … all are being grafted onto the Afghan/Pashtun culture. If the war is merely for purposes of enriching the military-industrial complex, why bother?

The fall of Kabul Bank is symbolic of the shambles of this strategy, however. It reminds us of the larger dysfunctional nature of the war and the West's strategy. If we are correct, the powers-that-be badly want to win this war and the lack of success in changing the local culture is symptomatic of the struggle's larger futility.

After Thoughts

That does not mean the war has not been fought for the sake of making war. Only that there are other reasons as well. Sometimes a war is what it seems to be – a methodology of conquest. And in this case, it's not one the West is winning.