It’s all about oil. I think most of us know that instinctively. Our leaders talk about weapons of mass destruction, democracy, the Taliban, Al Qaida, and the rights of women, but underlying all that is the need for oil.
- Right now and for the foreseeable future, two of the most important pools of oil for the world economy are in the Persian Gulf and Central Asia.
- “We” (meaning the industrialized world) can’t afford any disruptions to the oil supply.
Therefore, anyone or anything that threatens access to this oil must be stomped on quickly and decisively.
It’s easy to see the Persian Gulf situation, like when the Iraqi army set Kuwait’s oil fields on fire. But Central Asia isn’t as clear a picture.
You’ll probably need a map, but take my word for it that today Central Asia consists of the five former Soviet republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. But they got their “-stan” names from ancient Persia,* back at the time of Alexander the Great.
These “Stans” have oil, lots of it, and no way to get it out. Sure, there are some pipelines going west to Europe, but they have to go through some troublesome areas south of Russia and north or Iraq/Iran which are unstable. It would be far better to go south to the Indian Ocean, and that way cuts right through — you can probably guess it — Afghanistan. China is all over Tibet because it borders the oil areas. So that’s what it’s all about.
* (From Wikipedia) During pre-Islamic and early Islamic times, Central Asia was a predominantly Iranian region. Among the ancient sedentary Iranian peoples, the Sogdian and Chorasmians played an important role. Ancient Iranian culture also has an important role in the history of some parts of the region and Tajiks, Pamiris and other Iranian groups still are present in the region. After expansion by Turkic peoples, central Asia became also the homeland for many Turkic peoples, including the Uzbeks, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz and Uyghurs, and Central Asia is sometimes referred to as Turkestan.