To Afghan Twist, The US Turn

U.S. Identifies Vast Mineral Riches in Afghanistan
The nearly $1 trillion in untapped deposits are enough to fundamentally alter the Afghan economy and perhaps the Afghan war itself, officials said.
Setbacks Cloud U.S. Plans to Get Out of Afghanistan
Halting progress has crystallized tensions over President Obama’s plan to begin pulling out troops by July 2011.

What is this? Is the Times being played by the Pentagon? First, there is an article about a new Pentagon-supported survey which shows Afghanistan has up to a trillion dollars in mineral wealth, and that the Chinese are after it, or, even worse, that the Taliban might get it. By mid-day, everyone is pointing out that the presence of mineral wealth in that country is old news. So, why the breaking story?
By the end of the SAME DAY, here is an article in which military officials express serious doubts about the timetable for withdrawal. You think that's a coincidence? This is propaganda. The military-industrial complex does not want to leave that country until it has appropriated those resources. That's what this war has become about, just like the war in Iraq. It's not about democracy, human rights, women's rights or even national security. It's not even about defeating Islamic extremists. The military knows that force only creates more terrorists. It's not about 'victory'. They know there is no winning an all-out war in Afghanistan and Pakistan. What they want is endless war. War that lasts long enough to allow them to strong-arm the future political leadership in Afghanistan, which may not include Karzai, into allowing U.S. companies to develop the country's resources. The same thing Russia wanted. The same thing Halliburton wanted in Iraq.


I'm shocked, SHOCKED, by this discovery.

Call me cynical, but I think few Americans believed the Bush Administration would launch a long-term campaign in the desert wasteland of Central Asia for purely altruistic reasons like liberating Afghan women.

art brennan
weare, nh

The term "halting progress" really doesn't fit. Where's the evidence of progress? Halting the war would be progress.

Paul Moore
Miami, FL

They don't call Afghanistan the burial ground of empires for nothing. McChrystal is the quintessential US military leader now, a Madison Avenue type who gets bunches of people killed including his own people. Lied in the Tillman case. Kept forward inadequately guarded bases open in Afghanistan against the advice of genuine leaders and got people killed when they were overrun. The man is a pathetic impotent symbol of the whole futile US effort in Afghanistan. He'll probably be President soon.

Marcel Duchamp

A trillion dollars worth of minerals will make this a war worth winning!

Our imperial net has settled around our throats.

Meyrav Levine

Hence the reason why we spend a trillion dollars a year on our military-industrial complex to steal resources from other people. Alan Greenspan, in a rare moment of honesty among the ruling elites, declared the following motive for our war of aggression in Iraq:
“I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil”...

Nick Lento
Cliffside Park, NJ

This is one more reason to radically change our foreign policy on a *global* scale so that human rights and real democracy is what we are about rather than just propping up monstrous undemocratic dictatorships masquerading as democracies so our "private enterprise" can hook up with artificially cheap natural resources.

We've wasted hundreds of billions of dollars in Afghanistan killing people and engendering more hatred of the USA...and all that's done is make the Taliban (who were hated!) more attractive to many ordinary Afghans.

In our pursuit of "terrorists" we have created more terrorism....which in turn, is good for the commercial interests which enjoy the profits that accrue from our massive expenditures.

We should take a page out of Greg Mortenson's book (Three Cups of Tea) and learn how to spend lots less money more intelligently and in a humane and human manner. The ordinary working people at the bottom of the world's political food chain should be looking toward the USA with respect, love and admiration....and would be if our policies were to materially and unambiguously advance their interests.

If we stay on the utterly ineffective and wasteful course we are now on.....the Taliban will wind up in charge of Afghanistan and they will cut deals with the Chinese to rape their own countryside and exploit their own countrymen. We can/must do better.

Jacque Bauer
Los Angeles

Like the Iraqis, the Afghans will show their appreciation to America for its blood and treasure spent to free the Afghanis, to rebuild their country and in discovering these riches by giving the mineral licenses to these deposits to the Chinese. Don't doubt this for one second...

Michael R
Pittsford, New York

For all of the implications of such a discovery, let's not get carried away with this storyline just yet. It didn't take too much effort for me to notice that these unnamed U.S. Pentagon officials, and the New York Times, are peddling at least somewhat of a puff piece. At this stage, a phrase like "the Saudi Arabia of lithium"--uttered before the independent verification of these vast mineral deposits, and before mining operations and 'mining culture' have even sprouted in Afghanistan--strikes me more as campaign-style rhetoric, pushing a hawkish foreign policy goal, than an objective accounting of the potential of this find.

I am all for vast riches being discovered in Afghanistan--but vast questions remain. Again, no objective, on-the-record sources or independent scientists have verified the account. Assuming the truth of these vast riches (and what, exactly, is the basis for the $1 trillion estimate beyond the mere expectation and yes, Hope, of the Pentagon?), don't underestimate the acknowledged timeline for extracting most of these riches: long-term.

It's hard to escape the reality that the same Pentagon officials who are notifying the world of this seemingly hugely significant story also have a strong interest in staying put in Afghanistan. We ought to be on guard for stories like this, number one, but here demand more information and verification before we allow this information to affect our attitude towards Afghanistan.


I'm old-fashioned. I believe that when it's time to fight a war, you need to do it with a clear conscience, because you're going to expose yourself to some regrettable things--things that will haunt you for the rest of your days. The use of military force needs to be just, because you're asking sons and daughters of loving mothers, who raised them until they were old enough to kill in the name of country, to do just that, or be killed. Sending them off to do that in the name of a fabrication is to commit them to hell. Good luck welcoming them back.

War is best expressed as a total commitment, punctuated by the clear achievement of negotiated terms, which the victors find acceptable. This means a broad-based conscription (in the event you have a popularity issue), and an appropriate and properly targeted raising of taxes to cover the "unusual" expense of armed conflict. No credit cards accepted. No shadow mercenary contractors that you can pay off the books and use to keep your "volunteer army" troop numbers artificially low.

Anything less than this is a police action and has no rightful purpose going on for five or ten years.

The Bush-launched incursions into Iraq and Afghanistan are unjust wars. They are corporate-political incursions of opportunity and they have debased the United Sates of America and its proud military.

The US Government, one might dream, needs to "straighten up and fly right," so that we can breath honor into our national endeavors. What we are doing in the meantime is unleashing a global security force on a less than thankful planet to provide cover to the designs of a small group of planners--take your pick if you think you know who they are. But they do not represent the will of the nation, nor do they portray their mission in a manner or language that can stand the light of day.

They dishonor our citizenry, our flag, and fighting forces. They will, if their modus operandi is allowed to continue, hand the motivational advantage to our adversaries. A strong Nation can handle the truth. Why then, must we be so deceived?

Some people regard war as a sacred duty. Others, an opportunity for plunder. I hope to god that war can retain its nobler aims, because there's no truer aim for a citizen soldier than securing the peace. If global cops are what the world needs, then let the nations of the world pony up and go where they're required.

War is being redefined as an endless struggle against asymmetrical usurpers who can inspire fear out of all proportion to their actual capability. It is becoming enormously profitable for a segment of its supporters and providers. It requires unmerciful destruction and the relentless tearing of flesh. It will leave indelible marks on the ones who do not die. It may or may not encourage a peaceful society.

How is this a noble mission? Or was it always thus?



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