The recent mineral finds in Afghanistan are allegedly compliments of American geologists and some Pentagon officials. The discoveries are the results of geological studies that went on years ago in addition to some more recent explorations.
There is some suspicion about how the discovery and the trillion dollar estimate of value came to be, since it takes up to a decade to explore, map and calculate such massive findings.
This would imply that the exploration and mapping began with, or before, the US war in Afghanistan. The trillion dollar estimate is then either suspect, or the intent and goals of the Bush administration in engaging in Afghanistan are suspect.
Were Al Quaida and the Taliban the true quarry, or was the mineral wealth the true goal of the occupation and war?
The wealth is said to include such minerals as lithium, a key material for medicine and batteries for laptops and other electronic devices.Then there is copper, iron, cobalt and gold. The price of gold, alone, is soaring as economic forces call for backing more of economies with gold, rather than the dollar.
Now for the odds of transforming Afghanistan into anything, let alone a mining juggernaut. There have been so many attempts to conquer, occupy, rule, overtake and wrangle Afghanistan that, while the attempts are legendary in themselves, it is the never ending string of failures that is also legendary.
The current problems lie in the topography and location, the intent and conduct of the people, and the competition between every major power in the world for Afghanistan’s routes, land and, now, minerals.
The topography and location make it impossible even for the most powerful and well equipped military forces in the world to stabilize the country and the region. The ease in which resistance and non government entities can escape to, hide and transit into Pakistan has made it impossible to engage in the conventional warfare or policing that was supposed to lead to stabilization.
The intent and conduct of the people is horrendously problematic. The treatment of women and girls constitutes a humanitarian emergency and an ongoing crisis of horrendous proportions. The rivalries for power and leadership rage not only between, national political factions, they even extend beyond Al Quaida and the Taliban to a vast array of tribal, religious, criminal and other smaller groups that can have make very loud noise in relation to their size.
There are notorious levels of what Westerners consider to be corruption, but which is actually an ancient and lasting way of life in the region. Western and democratic ideas of a proper government are clearly not taking hold in Afghanistan. Eastern ways of setting up a government have not worked there, either.
Afghanistan holds its own place in the world of governments and societies.
Finally, Afghanistan is a treacherous and unique place that is populated by the people who have managed to carve out sustenance from rock, and who are sick and tired of being invaded, occupied, transited and used by other civilizations. They are adamant, internally in shambles and discordant, thanks to the millennial duration of disruption and intrusion from outsiders, most of whom have been brutal and oppressive.
In summary, it will take millions of miracles for Afghanistan to reach the levels of political and social stability that will be required to extract, to move and to sell the valuable minerals without creating conflict among world and regional political and economic powers. Add in those who occupy and use Afghanistan as a crossroads for world religious hegemony and terrorism and we have a mess.
Some of those powers will have an overriding humanitarian and democratic goals while others will have overriding totalitarian or corporatist goals, creating a possibility of endless world warfare that will be based on conflict between meeting the will and needs of the Afghan people and meeting the wills and needs of those who wish to benefit from the material resources.