Afghanistan’s Newfound Wealth

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    Somehow the gang that is still looking for the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq has managed to stumble upon a trillion dollars in natural resources in Afghanistan. The imagined threat has been replaced by the promise of riches. Anything to justify the effort. Pardon the skepticism but, come on.

    This “discovery” will be embraced by the same bunch that saw a free Iraq gratefully reimbursing the United States’ expenditures of blood and treasure from the oil wealth under its soil. For years some very fine military personnel traded emails about the find of the day. We all hoped that the justification would prove true. Any trace of precursor chemicals fueled the hope that doubts about the necessity for prosecuting this war would be wiped clean. It never came. It never will.

    Now a very dubious report splashes across the front pages that provides a very different justification for a very different prosecution. It fits so neatly. If we only stay the course, if we invest the time necessary, not only can we defeat terrorism at its source, we can also transform an impoverished nation into the “Saudi Arabia of lithium.” We have dumped building democracies for building economic engines. Find this in the National Security Strategy under…?

    Do the business case. Okay, so there is a trillion bucks worth of unproven resources at best. They are spread throughout the country (conveniently there are deposits near and maybe in Pakistan too). We’ll just take all the indigenous heavy equipment and trained labor, pull the minerals/ore from the ground, transport it over the highly developed (and secure) highway system infrastructure to the modern port of… Oh, wait, looks like a job for Halliburton or Brown and Root. Sweet deal! If it turns out there are as many natural resources in Afghanistan as there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, no harm, no foul. At least this time we get some of our investment returned indirectly. Oh, maybe that is happening in Iraq too. Talk about redistribution of wealth.