WASHINGTON — 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.Read it here.
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.
It will be interesting to see how this plays into the continuing debate over the war in Afghanistan.
The conspiracy theories practically write themselves. Bush caused 9/11 in order to have an excuse to invade Afghanistan because he was in the pocket of the military/mining industrial complex. Look for some version of this sort of thing to hit MSNBC soon.
Blake Hounshell, writing in Foreign Policy, is skeptical. He notes that this information has been available for several years and that the trillion dollar figure is quite probably inflated. He wonders why such a sensational story should appear now and suggests that it is an attempt on the part of the administration to offset a series of recent negative stories that were undermining American efforts in Afghanistan.
Read his article here.
Spencer Ackerman calls the announcement "vast fodder for conspiracy theorists" here.
If I might venture one small prediction -- this development will be of great interest to China and will present Afghan President Hamid Karzai with ample opportunities to play off great power interests against each other. Our relationship with him, already troubled, has just gotten a lot more complicated. One probable outcome will be that the U.S. will start to nurture relations with local leaders in the mineral-rich areas, bypassing the central government.