Opposing War in Central Asia and the Persian Gulf

  • Date: Nov 13 2002
  • Policy Number: 200211

Key Words: Injury Prevention Control, Security, Victims, Violence, Warfare

The American Public Health Association,

Affirms its historic mission of promoting the public health; and 

Acknowledges the catastrophic levels of disease, injury and death caused by modern warfare1,2;

Notes that war injuries are the leading causes of death for young people in the region including Afghanistan,3 and that the Persian Gulf War resulted in the deaths of thousands of Iraqi children4;

Notes the dismal health status of Afghan people,2 and the bleak condition of health services in Central Asia caused by war and political instability,5-7 including increased risk of HIV transmission and intravenous drug use, disruptions in the economic infrastructure, and decreased spending on public health programs30

Condemns death and suffering caused by attacks impacting civilians, such as those in New York and Washington DC on September 11th, 2001, and the subsequent attacks in Afghanistan8

Acknowledges that the events of September 11th were the most proximal precipitating factor for the US war in Afghanistan and its launch of the “war on terrorism;” 

Yet also recognizes that one long standing focus of US foreign policy strategy in Central Asia and the Persian Gulf centers on establishing geopolitical influence for the control of oil resources and pipelines10 to satisfy domestic US consumption11 and the accelerating energy demands in Asia9,12-14;

Notes specifically the strategic position of Afghanistan as it relates to potential pipeline routes15-19;
And the large oil reserves in Iraq, the second largest in the world,20 and 

Considers that economic conflicts on this scale are not in the interest of ordinary civilians or the soldiers of the countries concerned; and furthermore

Realizes that US policies to control resources and geopolitical position often conflict with competing forces, such as other countries, and Islamic fundamentalist and nationalist groups who want control over the region and use religion and nationalism to recruit followers21,27;

Reflects on the alienation of potential friends throughout the world, especially Muslims, caused by the “war on terrorism” and the security measures targeting particular people; 

Fears that increased military force and police power will lead to greater political instability in the world with damaging effects on health and social infrastructure; 

Realizes that increases in military and national security spending for 2003 will outstrip increases in public health spending, and balancing budgets in the wake of increased military and national security spending is likely to lead to cuts in funds for urgently needed domestic programs25,26;

Therefore, expresses concern about the potential expansion of military action in other countries rich in petroleum reserves, including Iraq, which has become the object of renewed military interest23-24,28,30;

Reaffirms its opposition to conflicts in which competition over oil reserves play a role, as stated in Policy Statement 992322; and

Therefore APHA, 

  1. Endorses the efforts of international organizations to bring perpetrators of terror attacks to justice;
  2. Declares its opposition to military actions in Afghanistan and other nations as an undertaking that runs counter to the health and well-being of people;
  3. Calls on U.S. authorities to end military actions in Central Asia,
  4. Calls on U.S. authorities to offer humanitarian aid to Afghanistan on a massive scale;
  5. Calls on Congress and the President to authorize new programs that increase training and deployment of public health personnel in less developed countries; 
  6. Calls on Congress and the President to expand US public health services and not divert funds for health to military and security purposes.
  7. Calls on the US public to reject a perpetual “war on terrorism” as a destabilizing influence on world peace and health, and a threat to civil liberties.


  1. Levy B, Sidel V. War and Public Health. Washington, DC: APHA, 2000.
  2. Horton R. Commentary: Public Health: a neglected counter terrorist measure. The Lancet. October 6, 2001;358:1112-3. Afghan people have an average life expectancy of 46 years, an infant mortality rate of 165 per 1000 live births, and an under-5 mortality rate of 257 per 1000 live births. 
  3. World Health Statistics Annual 1996. Geneva: WHO, 1998. 
  4. Hoskins E. Public Health and the Persian Gulf War, in War and Public Health, BS Levy, VW Sidel, Oxford University Press, New York, 1997. 
  5. O’Connor RW. Health Care in Muslim Asia: Development and disorder in wartime Afghanistan. Lanham: Management Sciences for Health, 1994. 
  6. Central Asia Unit. WHO. Special Report. A Population at Risk: Communicable Diseases in the Afghan Crisis. October 29, 2001. http://www.who. int. Viewed on June 6, 2002. 
  7. Wali S; Gould E; Fitzgerald P. The Impact of political conflict on women: the case of Afghanistan. AJPH; 1999. 89(10): 1474-6.
  8. Herold M. A Dossier on Civilian Victims of United States’ Aerial Bombing of Afghanistan: A Comprehensive Accounting; December 6, 2001; viewed at http://www.media-alliance.org/mediafile/20-5/dossier/herold12-6.html and http://pubpages.unh.edu/~mwherold/afghanistan-new.xls.
  9. United States Commission on National Security/21. New World Coming: American Security in the 21st Century. Supporting Research and Analysis. September 15, 1999. http://www.nssg.gov. Viewed on October 8, 2001. “Energy will continue to have major strategic significance. American dependence on foreign sources of energy will grow over the next two decades. In the absence of events that alter significantly the price of oil, the stability of the world oil market will continue to depend on an uninterrupted supply of oil from the Persian Gulf, and the location of all key fossil fuels deposits will retain geopolitical significance.” 
  10. Yergin D: The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money and Power. Simon & Schuster, New York, 1991. P. 781: “It (oil) has also fueled the global struggles for political and economic primacy. Much blood has been spilled in its name. The fierce and sometimes violent quest for oil—and for the riches and power it conveys—will surely continue so long as oil holds a central place.” 
  11. Klare MT. Oil fix—Bush will act globally to lock in US supply. Pacific News Service, April 15, 2002. Viewed at http://www.pacificnews.org/content/pns/2002/apr/0415oilfix.html on June 8, 2002.
  12. Klare MT. Resource wars: the new landscape of global conflict. NY: Metropolitan Books, 2001. 
  13. House of Representatives, Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, Committee on International Relations. Statement of Congressman Doug Bereuter, subcommittee chair, representative of Nebraska, and testimony of Mr. John J. Maresca, Vice-President of Unocal Corporation. Hearing On US Interests In The Central Asian Republics, Washington, DC. 12 February 1998. http://commdocs.house.gov/committees/intlrel/hfa48119.000/hfa48119_0f.htm. Viewed on June 8, 2002.
  14. Jaffe AM; Manning RA. The Shocks of a world of cheap oil. Foreign Affairs; Jan/Feb 2000. 79(1). http://www.foreignpolicy2000.org/library/issuebriefs/reading notes/fa_oil.html. Viewed on June 8, 2002.
  15. BBC News. Afghanistan plans gas pipeline. http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/business/newsid_19840000/1984459.stm discussing the Centgas - Unocal project of the mid-1990s under consideration again in 2002. 
  16. United States Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration. Afghanistan. Viewed on October 19, 2001. http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/cabs/afghan.html: “Afghanistan’s significance from an energy standpoint stems from its geographical position as a potential transit route for oil and natural gas exports from Central Asia to the Arabian Sea. This potential includes the possible construction of oil and natural gas export pipelines through Afghanistan, which was under serious consideration in the mid-1990s. The idea has since been undermined by Afghanistan’s instability. On December 8, 1998, Unocal (US oil company) announced that it was withdrawing from the Centgas consortium. Unocal had previously stressed that the Centgas pipeline project would not proceed until an internationally recognized government was in place in Afghanistan.”
  17. United States Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration. Caspian Sea Region Oil and Natural Gas Reserves (see CENTGAS entry), February 2002, http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/cabs/caspgrph.html#TAB2;
  18. United States Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration. Caspian Sea Region, http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/cabs/caspian.html; viewed on June 8, 2002. 19. Tanter R. Pipeline politics: oil, gas and the US interest in Afghanistan (undated). Znet, http://www.zmag.org/tanteroil.htm 
  19. United States Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration. Iraq, March 2002. Viewed on June 8, 2002. http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/cabs/iraq.html. “Iraq holds the second largest proven reserves (of oil).” 
  20. Parenti M. The Terrorism Trap: September 11 and Beyond. SF: City Lights Books, 2002.
  21. Resolution 9923, “Opposing War in the Middle East.” APHA, 1999.
  22. Cohen, Richard. "Public Enemy #2." Washington Post, October 18, 2001, A39. 
  23. Allen, Mike. “Rice Interviewed on Middle East Network.” Washington Post, October 16, 2001, A16. 
  24. Stevenson R. President to seek $48 billion more for the military. NYT, January 24, 2002; Late Edition - Final, Section A, Page 1, Column 1. 
  25. Office of Budget, DHHS. FY2003 President’s Budget for HHS. http://www.hhs.gov/budget/docbudget.htm. CDC, NIH, and HRSA budgets approximately $36 billion vs. the $48 billion additional funding for the war (reference 25). 
  26. Rashid A. Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia. New Haven: Yale Univ Press, 2000. 
  27. Ricks TE; Loeb V. Bush developing military policy of striking first. Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/ 
  28. A22374-2002Jun9.html; Viewed June 12, 2002. “ ‘I think the president is trying to get the American people ready for some kind of preemptive move’ against Iraq, said a Pentagon consultant. He said it would not necessarily be against Iraqi weapons sites but might instead involve a seizure of Iraqi oil fields.”
  29. Goering H. Testimony at Nuremberg Trial, 1946: "The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denouce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.”
  30. Pollack K. Next stop Baghdad? Foreign Affairs. April 2002. http://www. foreignaffairs.org/articles/Pollack0302.html. Viewed on June 12, 2002.

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