That Absurd Afghan Mineral Story . . .
Posted by Michael Cohen
The United States has discovered nearly $1 trillion in untapped mineral deposits in Afghanistan, far beyond any previously known reserves and enough to fundamentally alter the Afghan economy and perhaps the Afghan war itself, according to senior American government officials.
The previously unknown deposits — including huge veins of iron, copper, cobalt, gold and critical industrial metals like lithium — are so big and include so many minerals that are essential to modern industry that Afghanistan could eventually be transformed into one of the most important mining centers in the world, the United States officials believe.
Are you kidding me? The New York Times printed this crap. And exactly how clueless are the leakers at DoD? Did they somehow think that this "blockbuster" story would change attitudes about Afghanistan after every day last week there was another article about precisely how bad the mission there is going?
As Blake Hounshell notes over at FP, this is not a new story - the information backing it up has been out there for years. And apparently the $1 trillion is not public either; instead its something a helpful Pentagon task force came up with.
But even if this is true, so what? How many years would it take to put in place an infrastructure to develop and mine these natural resources? And if you think Afghanistan is corrupt now (only Somalia is worse!) imagine how it will look after this? Congo has tons of natural resources; so does Angola. How's that working out for them?
There is nothing in this story that changes the fundamental incoherence of the current mission in Afghanistan. There is nothing here that will change the dynamics on the ground in Afghanistan and the reality of a corrupt, illegitimate Afghan government, an adaptable insurgent force and a June 2011 deadline for the commencement of US troop withdrawals.
The only thing this story shows is the desperation of the Pentagon in planting pie-in-the-sky news stories about Afghanistan and trying to salvage the lost cause that is our current mission there.