Monday, June 14, 2010

Now they finally have something to fight about

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.

People, this could make the Dutch disease and blood diamonds look like kid's stuff, no? We have already seen all the years of violence, all the corruption and now there is actually something valuable in play. Kudos to the NYT reporter for recognizing this:

Instead of bringing peace, the newfound mineral wealth could lead the Taliban to battle even more fiercely to regain control of the country.

The corruption that is already rampant in the Karzai government could also be amplified by the new wealth, particularly if a handful of well-connected oligarchs, some with personal ties to the president, gain control of the resources. Just last year, Afghanistan’s minister of mines was accused by American officials of accepting a $30 million bribe to award China the rights to develop its copper mine. The minister has since been replaced.

Endless fights could erupt between the central government in Kabul and provincial and tribal leaders in mineral-rich districts

Not to mention how it will affect the US and our willingness to keep soldiers fighting and dying there.


David said...

Look at all the good it's done for Iran and Iraq.

Matt Gilliland said...

Maybe it will wean them off of heroin, at least. Not that others aren't going to fill the gaps, since demand doesn't seem to be dropping.

There are profits to be had!

kebko said...

This is simplistic, but it seems like some version of the following would go a long way to avoiding problems:
Establish several corporations, each with the rights to certain specific deposits, and every Afghan citizen gets 100 shares of ownership in each corporation. Then, if somebody does a power grab, practically every citizen is going to be on the side of the status quo.

Unknown said...

Assuming they don't sell their shares immediately or forfeit them under Taliban pressure.

Anonymous said...

We are at a crossroads...
Bush: Blood for Oil
Obama: Blood for Batteries