Despite what you may read this morning, the U.S. military did not just “discover” a trillion dollars’ worth of precious minerals in Afghanistan.
The New York Times today proclaimed that Afghanistan is apparently poised to become “the Saudi Arabia of lithium” — a metal used to produce gadgets like iPods and laptops. The discovery will also, according to Pentagon documents quoted by the Times, fundamentally transform the country’s opium-reliant economy.
But the military (and observers of the military) have known about Afghanistan’s mineral riches for years. The U.S. Geological Survey and the Navy concluded in a 2007 report that “Afghanistan has significant amounts of undiscovered nonfuel mineral resources,” including ”large quantities of accessible iron and copper [and] abundant deposits of colored stones and gemstones, including emerald, ruby [and] sapphire.”
Not to mention that the $1 trillion figure is — at best — a guesstimate. None of the earlier U.S military reports on Afghan’s mineral riches cite that amount. And it might be prudent to be wary of any data coming out of Afghanistan’s own Mines Ministry, which “has long been considered one of the country’s most corrupt government departments,” The Wall Street Journal reports.
And the timing of the “discovery” seems just a little too convenient. As Blake Hounshell at Foreign Policy notes, the Obama administration is struggling to combat the perception that the Afghan campaign has “made little discernible progress,” despite thousands of additional troops and billions of extra dollars.
Read More http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2010/06/no-the-military-didnt-just-discover-an-afghan-mineral-motherlode/#ixzz0qrTqAQI2