June 16, 2010
A bleak Ghazni Province seems to offer little, but a Pentagon study says it may have among the world’s largest deposits of lithium
Is it really a coincidence that as the Congress debates another $33 billion war supplemental bill for 2010 and Democrats ask us to oppose it, the New York Times breaks a story that the U.S. Identifies Vast Riches of Minerals in Afghanistan.
Yes the Times opening reads, “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. “
You might ask are we being suckered into something here by the Pentagon study that discovered this purported bonanza. This, especially as the Democrats for once tell you the truth: to write to your representatives and tell them, “The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost Americans over $1 trillion in direct costs, and over $3 trillion altogether.
“At a time when our national debt exceeds $13 trillion, we can no longer afford these wars.
“It’s time for Congress to reject any funding except to bring all our troops safely home.
Flowers and a brick-drying furnace by a road in a rural district south of Kandahar, Afghanistan.
“As my Representative, I urge you to oppose the $33 billion war supplemental for 2010.” Amen.
Of course, I filled out the response and wrote that the US should shore up its funds and stop killing people, and provide for Social Security and Medicare, not to mention job creation, strong rules for the financial market, increased funding for education, healthcare, and infrastructure. Yet, our 2011 budget already weighs in at $3 trillion with 53 cents of every dollar going for defense. And this year’s deficit weights in at $1.5 trillion.
But then, “an internal Pentagon memo, for example, states that Afghanistan could become the ‘Saudi Arabia of lithium,’ a key raw material in the manufacture of batteries for laptops and BlackBerrys.”
As the lightest of all metals, lithium is a major component in batteries used for personal accessories.
Yet this vast find of mineral wealth in Afghanistan was discovered by “a small team of Pentagon officials and American geologists…” And yes, even though “it could take many years to develop a mining industry, the potential is so great that officials and executives in the industry believe it could attract heavy investment even before mines are profitable, providing the possibility of jobs that could distract from generations of war.” Oh my god, all our problems solved in Afghanistan in no time. Introducing fast food politics.
It seems to me that we are just shifting the object of desire here. We were in Afghanistan nominally to catch Osama bin Laden, which we haven’t done in nearly nine years. The army gave him a pass when they had him cornered in Tora Bora. He was more valuable as a poster boy obviously than a corpse. But his death was reported by 911 Scholar David Ray Griffin in his book: Osama bin Laden – Dead or Alive. According to Griffin’s copious research, bin Laden died in late December 2001. That jibes with the fact that in August of 2001 he entered the American Hospital in Dubai to undergo serious kidney dialysis and to meet with his CIA handler.
A delegation from the state-owned Chinese company, China Metallurgical Group Corporation, visited the site of a copper mine in Aynak, a former al-Qaeda stronghold southeast of Kabul, in 2007.
Also, it galls me to hear Obama claim that the Afghans were the people who came to our country to kill us on 9/11. First of all, even the resumes of the 19 purported terrorists whipped out of a FBI file only days after 9/11, presented us with 15 Saudis. If that’s true, we should have hit Saudi Arabia. Of course, that was impossible given our addiction to their oil. Concerning the entire 19 photo terrorists, FBI Director Mueller said later that we couldn’t be sure these were the people. Are these certifiable reasons to go to war with a country like Afghanistan with the intent of bombing it into the Stone Age? This is saw-tooth hegemony cutting through muscle and bone.
And the real reason we went to Afghanistan was to grab the real estate for a route to and from the Caspian Sea Basin and the Stan countries loaded with natural gas and oil. This so we could build pipelines from that region and run them to Afghanistan to Pakistan and the Indian Ocean for export to India and China. It gets tedious repeating the original claims we made in contrast to our real motives in these articles. But memory vanishes quickly thanks to the collective US entertainment media which refuses to report real news.
So now that the war in Afghanistan is not going swimmingly, we need still another reason to sucker us in for another couple of trillion. Minerals, ah minerals! Good for the money system, zip up the economy, zing away the debt, put a chicken in every pot, and some heroin in every junky’s arm at home and abroad. Fools’ gold, my darlings, fools’ gold. Even if you think the find is true, it belongs to the Afghans. It isn’t a matter of finders/keepers, losers/weepers. Or we’ll be weeping, too.
What you could do, if this happened on the one in a million shot that it’s true, would be to develop a kind of Marshal Plan for Afghanistan to put it back on its feet, build up its infrastructure, create jobs, schools, rebuild homes, villages, roads and cities, not to mention creating mining operations, in the name of the people, though not in name only, in for real contractual agreements, on the level, Merle.
Or we could do what Roosevelt did with the Saudis at the end of WW II. Since it had been our gas station in the Mid East during the war (and what killed Hitler in the end was running out of gas), Roosevelt made a deal with the Saudis. We would build a huge facility for them, using our extensive technology, and they in turn would make us the primary if not sole recipient of all the oil they pumped at the best available prices. The company was called ARAMCO. An Arab/American Company, as in one hand washes the other.
Of course, this helped form a tremendous dependency on the cheap sweet crude bubbling up so easily from the Saudi sand, a dependency that has lasted for some 65 years. It also has developed into a co-dependency of Saudi elites for our arms, protection and cash, including payola, and feeding our unquenchable thirst for oil, taking a piece of the action ourselves as do their princes. This culminates in an incestuous and corrupt squandering of the non-royals’ national assets and squandered monies paid. This in fact helped to exponentially expand the Wahhabi movement.
In other words, this was a deadly quid pro quo for the Saudis, in that the Wahhabi movement rejected the decadent influence of the West, the cash-peddling Americans corrupting the already overfed Saudi Royal elite. The Wahhabis’ anger at the Western presence had great appeal to the Saudi man on the street, mostly unemployed, or living at a significantly, lower standard than their princes, or our diplomats, politicians and soldiers. So Wahhabism became a kind of religious terrorism, a mafia the princes had to learn to pay off so bad things wouldn’t happen, even though they did. But then somebody had to keep the Royals clean, the hard way.
Is Afghanistan really the next El Dorado?
We have a similar situation in Afghanistan with the Taliban, again a fundamentalist Islamic sect, which curiously reduced the opium business when it was in power after the Russian/Afghan war to some 2 percent of what it was during the war, a multi-billion dollar income stream for the Agency drug-dealers, and the money-launderers, pumping illicit cash profits into the world economic system like a transfusion of blood for a vampire.
If economic reconstruction were a real possibility in Afghanistan, if you didn’t have a puppet president, former consultant to the American oil company, Unocal during the pre-planning and awarding of contracts for the building of the pipelines… if the whole thing didn’t turn to camel dung and corruption… possibly you could rebuild an Afghan economy with the help of the Chiefs and Mullahs directly, to utilize “their mineral resources.” But the odds of that are longer than the deserts of the Afghan plains. And the odds that these minerals are really there, not the latest invention of the DOD to con the US public to throw away $33 billion more in the war, are even longer.
The Times says, “The value of the newly discovered mineral deposits dwarfs the size of the Afghanistan’s existing war-bedraggled economy, which is based largely on opium production and narcotics trafficking as well as aid from the United States and other industrialized countries. Afghanistan’s gross domestic product is only about $12 billion dollars,” lunch money for Goldman Sachs. The thing is this bedraggled country has been fighting for thirty years, the English, the Soviets, and the Americans—the Mongols and Genghis Khan before that, and kicked all their asses, and is still standing, in part because no one has ever respected the inner strength, fierce love of country and survival instinct the Afghans possess.
Love of anything but money is a novel thing for us these days, though I can remember as a kid my uncles signing up for WW II because they believed in it. And millions more did the same. It’s no accident that after Vietnam the US had to buy its armies one way or the country, with sign-on deals or straight-out mercenaries like Blackwater, now XE.
Afghanistan's mineral wealth could be worth up to three trillion dollars said Mining Minister Waheedullah Shahrani (C)
The military is promising us and the Afghans at this crucial point, when they need $33 billion more to keep losing the war, that this miraculous mineral find “will become the backbone of the Afghan economy,” as preached by one an adviser to the minister of mines. I wonder who put what in his pocket.
Of course, we are going to discuss all this with Afghan officials, that is, while we’re killing them and they’re killing us, and we are achieving “only limited gains.” Meanwhile, “charges of corruption and favoritism continue to plague the Karzai government and Mr. Karzai seems increasingly embittered towards the White House.”
Gee, I wonder why. Maybe because he’s between a rock and a hard place: his people who think he’s a turncoat and crook, and us who know he’s a turncoat and crook. But like your standard US/CIA puppet president he’s all we got. As Roosevelt said of the Nicaraguan Dictator Anastasio Somoza Debayle, “he’s a son of a bitch but our son of a bitch.”
His Wiki rap-sheet reads, “Anastasio (“Tachito”) Somoza Debayle [his mother’s last name]… (5 December 1925 – 17 September 1980) was a Nicaraguan dictator and officially the 73rd and 76th President of Nicaragua from 1 May 1967 to 1 May 1972 and from 1 December 1974 to 17 July 1979. As head of the National Guard, he was ruler of the country from 1967 to 1979. He was the last member of the Somoza family to be President, ending a dynasty that had held power since 1936.” Bye, bye, Tachito, here come the Sandinistas, and then the Contras.
You can be sure that when the US starts talking about how corrupt one of its puppet presidents is, he isn’t long for this world. As the Times says, “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 [financial power brokers], 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 had since been replaced.”
Sounds like a mine field to me, not the kind you get minerals from but the kind that takes lives, arms, limbs and blood, lots of blood, and blood-money year after year, the gift that keeps taking. Also, there is no real law here about who owns what, so continual squabbles could explode between the central government in Kabul and provincial and tribal leaders in the mineral-rich districts. The National mining law that Afghanistan has, the Times tells us, was written “with the help of advisers from the World Bank, but it has never faced a serious challenge.” Good luck.
These mountain ranges are situated outside the Afghan capital of Kabul near the country's border with Pakistan. Afganistan's mountain ranges have been found to contain many valuable minerals.
Bottom line, the law is untested. And Americans fear “resource-hungry China will try to dominate the development of Afghanistan’s mineral wealth…” As opposed to resource-hungry US, with our “heavy investment in the region” who will try to dominate the mineral wealth as we tried to dominate the pipelines and drove the Taliban out of the negotiations, which turned a love/hate relationship to hate. But then, if we don’t fight for the minerals, China could scoop it up, like it did the Aynak copper mine in Logar Province. Hey, didn’t we do a great job, Mr. Nixon, in teaching China all about “the free market economy?” But it’s not for free?
Also, since China is at least as bad if not worse an industrial polluter than the US it could turn Afghanistan into a trash heap faster than we did Appalachia or West Virginia. The question, according to the high-toned Times, is “can this be developed in a responsible way, in a way that is environmentally and socially responsible?” What like BP in the Gulf of Mexico or Exxon in Prudhoe Bay?
The Times writes, “The minerals are positioned throughout the country, including the southern and eastern regions along the border with Pakistan that have had some of the most intense combat in the American-led war against the Taliban insurgency.” Well, that’s intense and just what we need, a war per mine. Look, guys, nothing comes without a price tag, one way or the other.
So for sure the Democrats got it right this time. Let’s pick up our boots and head home like Obama promised. You could go back to that link and use it to give your Democratic Representatives a boot to vote against throwing another $33 billion into this rock pile, excuse me, rock and mineral pile, and stop playing Empire. It’s expensive business, especially when you’re broke.
Of course, the investment market must be salivating along with the DOD to get their hands on the magic minerals, like they’re still waiting for the oil and natural gas from the Caspian Sea Basin. But then, as the great architect, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe once said, sometimes “less is more.” And less war would be more appropriations for a domestic agenda. And less death would mean more life for more people, certainly a modest proposal.
Jerry Mazza / 18 June 2010
That photographic history
of World War II, four volumes bound
in leatherette, dark blue, a night sky
published by Vets of Foreign Wars
my father bought and I paged through
over and over, reading the captions,
battles, sinking ships, Pearl Harbor,
planes on fire, jungles, Japs,
the Nazi regalia, tanks, trucks, camps
of skeletons, white bodies piled
in lime pits burning a hole at seven
eight into my memory, trying
to figure the wild-dogs of holocaust,
the empathy it generated,
lighting up the child, and now,
the man scanning the photos, murdered
Palestinians, men, women,
children, infants, riddling out
this mystery of murder heaped
on innocents, repeated once more,
nothing learned and all forgotten,
neighbor on neighbor, Semite on Semite,
shades of darkness deep as desert
skies, starless, moonless, on fire
with the fight that leaves no winners,
prisoners of conscience only,
calculus of the dead, eyes emptied
of their love and anger, mute,
the covers closed and filed in time,
the bell tolling in my wounded heart
sweeping across the desert of memory.
Father, wither goest thy wisdom,
Kingdom come and paradise lost,
the dawning sun that tastes like frost.