Monday, August 2, 2010

Pen Meets Paper Aug 2'10

Opinion by Helge Nome
I recently had a conversation with a very interesting lady. She is a Russian engineer, trained in the design of electrical systems for large industrial plants. Now in her sixties, she received her training under the Soviet system and worked in Western Siberia for some 14 years involved in the design of processing plants in the oil and gas sector there. During that time she also gained some insight into what happens to soldiers that return from a theatre of war, in this case the Soviet involvement in Afghanistan: One such individual who was part of her team wandered off and disappeared one day. He was located in an empty room in a vacant building staring into the wall. Valerie also told me that many young Russians did physical harm to themselves in order to avoid the draft and go to Afghanistan and drug use was rampant. We now know why: Afghanistan was the straw that broke the back of the Soviet camel: The resentment caused at home by the Afghan campaign had a material impact on the dissolution of that great ideological elephant, causing it to fragment into smaller pieces.
Having long forgotten Vietnam, the Americans are now in Afghanistan, with a tail of compliant minions behind them, including Canada. And the curious thing is that the Russians are being very helpful in this enterprise, providing air corridors and refueling, I believe. It is all part of a geopolitical struggle over Caspian Sea basin energy riches.
So why would Russia be so helpful and polite? You probably guessed it: There may not be a throne at the end of the red carpet. More likely an abyss, and who would know more about that than the Russians?
There is a kind of unique mentality in the United States: “We can do whatever we want; after all, that’s how the west was won!” Like: “Go and clean up the commos in Korea and Vietnam”. “History began when we kicked the British arse in 1781”. “If you can’t beat the enemy, put ‘em all on the payroll. It sure works in Iraq”. And so on. Forgetting that being cocky and ignoring history is a sure way of repeating it.
The people that pay the price for this kind of insanity are mostly innocent civilians, the war veterans themselves and their families who are the human feedstock of the process. And you know what - After all the bleeding is over most people can’t even remember what it was all about in the first place, apart from some oft repeated platitudes, like “terrorists lurking on every corner”. (Used to be communists).
It is positively amazing to observe the same tricks being used again and again to justify violence against innocent people and deflect attention away from the real objectives of the war perpretrators.
One thought has occurred to me. It may not be an accident that Afghanistan is the world’s center for opium production: Anyone coming out of there is in dire need of self medications. The locals are likely very helpful in this respect.

No comments: