"Why We Fight" described the AfPak War as a basic struggle between Pakistan and India, with a US objective of seeking an avenue to Central Asia and its energy. Why "We Fight II" outlines the larger US strategic objectives that contribute to the AfPak War.
What strategic reason keeps the US in Afghanistan?
None of the foreign wars that the US has entered, going back forever, have been fought for no strategic reason. They've all had a strategic basis -- manifest destiny, extending the empire, stopping communism, securing petroleum supplies, etc. This AfPak "necessary" war is not only a quest gone bad and now on autopilot, it has key US strategic objectives. The 9/11 events merely served as a convenient pretense to hasten the inevitable entry of the US military into south and central Asia after the Soviet demise.
Sure, the government gives us that malarkey about al Qaeda safe havens, women's rights, promise-keeping, staying the course, etc., but that's only propaganda for the plebes. The safe haven argument has been successfully demolished considering Pakistan safe havens, for one.
In Afghanistan the US has several over-riding strategic objectives -- countering its rival China, allying with India (another China rival), restraining Russia and controlling Central Asia.
Afghanistan is in a key geographical position between Pakistan and Iran and an entre to the "Silk Road" countries of Central Asia where the US, after the fall of the USSR, as in eastern Europe, has an expressed interest. Being in this position makes this poor country Afghanistan central to the TAPI pipeline, among other things.
The war itself has increased US presence in the other Central Asia '-stans' north of Afghanistan.
Besides the political reasons for extending the US empire there are considerable natural resources (petroleum, gas, minerals and water) in these countries, and a lot of money to be made.
Follow the money. The US has partnered with India in its Central/South Asia strategy which is particularly oriented on the energy rich Central Asia, and a US-dominated Afghanistan is the key to Central Asia.
US Assistant Secretary of State Blake spelled out the Central and South Asia strategy, and the US-India partnership, in a speech on 19 Jan 2011:
"Energy-rich Central Asia lies at a critical strategic crossroads, bordering Afghanistan, China, Russia and Iran, which is why the United States wants to continue to expand our engagement and our cooperation with this critical region. And South Asia, with India as its thriving anchor, is a region of growing strategic and commercial importance to the United States in the critical Indian Ocean area. . .Given this dynamic regional context, we have three primary objectives in the South and Central Asia region: Support international efforts in Afghanistan; Build a strategic partnership with India; and Develop more durable and stable relations with the Central Asian countries."
The business of America is business, and the US Chamber of Commerce together with its foreign affiliates American Chambers, will always help expand the uS economic empire. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce (Eurasia Business Platform) held a marquee conference, "Silk Road Trade and Investment: New Pathways for U.S.-Central Asia Economic Ties" on October 7-8, 2009. This event brought together Ministers, corporate decision makers and experts from the public and private sectors to discuss the opportunities and challenges of the rapidly emerging market nestled strategically between Europe, China, Russia, South Asia, Turkey and the Middle East.
The US Senate has had a continuing interest in the "Silk
Road" countries of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan,
Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan and Afghansiatn is a key factor..
"S. 2749 IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES May 4, 2006 A BILL To update the Silk Road Strategy Act of 1999 to modify targeting of assistance in order to support the economic and political independence of the countries of Central Asia and the South Caucasus in recognition of political and economic changes in these regions since enactment of the original legislation.
"In General- The United States has significant long-term interests in the countries of Central Asia and the South Caucasus. These interests concern security, economic development, energy, and human rights. Accordingly, it is the policy of the United States to seek political and economic stability in the social development of, and cooperative relationships with, the countries of Central Asia and the South Caucasus, including by providing assistance in accordance with the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961."
"The liberation of Afghanistan from Taliban misrule and the new course in Afghanistan toward political and economic openness make possible the country's reintegration into Central Asia. . . The ouster of the Taliban from Afghanistan has diminished threats to that country's neighbors in Central Asia, allowing for accelerated progress toward democracy, open economies, and the rule of law across the region. Afghanistan's embrace of popular sovereignty and political pluralism demonstrates the universal applicability of these values."
"Think of Afghanistan, then, as an overlooked subplot in the ongoing Liquid War. After all, an overarching goal of U.S. foreign policy since President Richard Nixon's era in the early 1970s has been to split Russia and China. The leadership of the SCO has been focused on this since the U.S. Congress passed the Silk Road Strategy Act five days before beginning the bombing of Serbia in March 1999. That act clearly identified American geo-strategic interests from the Black Sea to western China with building a mosaic of American protectorates in Central Asia and militarizing the Eurasian energy corridor.
"Afghanistan, as it happens, sits conveniently at the crossroads of any new Silk Road linking the Caucasus to western China, and four nuclear powers (China, Russia, Pakistan, and India) lurk in the vicinity. "Losing" Afghanistan and its key network of U.S. military bases would, from the Pentagon's point of view, be a disaster, and though it may be a secondary matter in the New Great Game of the moment, it's worth remembering that the country itself is a lot more than the towering mountains of the Hindu Kush and immense deserts: it's believed to be rich in unexplored deposits of natural gas, petroleum, coal, copper, chrome, talc, barites, sulfur, lead, zinc, and iron ore, as well as precious and semiprecious stones."
That's the strategic reason that keeps the US in Afghanistan.