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Earth The Almighty Buck The Military United States

$1 Trillion In Minerals Found In Afghanistan 688

Posted by timothy
from the troops-home-by-christmas dept.
clustro writes "American geologists working with the Pentagon have discovered deposits of iron, copper, cobalt, gold, and lithium of incredible bounty, amounting to nearly $1 trillion. In fact, the lithium deposits are so vast, an internal Pentagon memo has stated that Afghanistan could become the 'Saudi Arabia of lithium.' The wealth of the deposits completely flattens the current GDP of Afghanistan, estimated at about $12 billion. Mining would completely transform the economy of Afghanistan, which presently is propped up by the opium trade and foreign aid. However, it could take decades for extraction to reach its full potential due to the war, the lack of heavy industry in the country, and a corrupt national government."
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$1 Trillion In Minerals Found In Afghanistan

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  • by sonicmerlin (1505111) on Monday June 14, 2010 @04:14AM (#32562436)
    This basically means we're staying in Afghanistan indefinitely. Even worse, in the end the only ones who will benefit are the corporations. The taxpayers and the government will never see any of that money.
  • And if you (Score:5, Insightful)

    by EEPROMS (889169) on Monday June 14, 2010 @04:15AM (#32562448)
    think China and Russia are just going to sit on the side lines and let the USA get first pick on the mineral resources they better go put their flack jackets back on.
  • by alister (60389) on Monday June 14, 2010 @04:17AM (#32562454) Homepage Journal

    Right. They're fucked. Their best hope was that all the dopes would get bored and get out. Now there's not a chance in hell of that happening.

  • hmm (Score:2, Insightful)

    by sifRAWR (1544341) on Monday June 14, 2010 @04:17AM (#32562456)
    Conspiracy theorists will be eating this one up..
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 14, 2010 @04:21AM (#32562476)

    This basically means we're staying in Afghanistan indefinitely. Even worse, in the end the only ones who will benefit are the corporations. The taxpayers and the government will never see any of that money.

    Who do you think works for the corporations? Answer: The taxpayers.

    Also, do you think mining is going to be a nonprofit organization? They'll pay taxes to the government.

    This is great news because this could help wipe out Afghanistan's poverty, the actual biggest obstacle to a functioning government.

  • by virb67 (1771270) on Monday June 14, 2010 @04:21AM (#32562480)
    Great! Maybe now we can make our money back. What's the going rate for a dead soldier again?
  • by kevinbr (689680) on Monday June 14, 2010 @04:23AM (#32562486)

    Saudi Arabia is poor, because the downstream value of the oil is lost. The sales values goes to the corrupt ruling family, the ordinary Saudi lives in poverty.

    It will be the same in Afghanistan. The raw material will be ripped out at the lowest cost (lowest cost meaning maximum pollution) and the real wealth of downstream value add will take place out of Afghanistan.

    Just like the raw opium.

  • by mike260 (224212) on Monday June 14, 2010 @04:29AM (#32562520)

    More to the point, they no longer have any chance at becoming a healthy democracy now that the incentives for corruption are so huge.

  • by Alain Williams (2972) <addw@phcomp.co.uk> on Monday June 14, 2010 @04:30AM (#32562528) Homepage

    Who do you think works for the corporations? Answer: The taxpayers.

    Yes, but which taxpayers will benefit: Afghani or USA ones ?

    The wealth should be for the Afghanis, not the western powers who will now try to put in ''development teams'' -- who, in reality, will try to get as much of the profits into western coffers.

  • Re:Handy (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 14, 2010 @04:32AM (#32562530)

    I don't think $1T in minerals is enough to justify an invasion and war alone, especially one that cost a significant fraction of that value, particularly if you look at the true cost of the conflict.

  • by Twinbee (767046) on Monday June 14, 2010 @04:35AM (#32562534) Homepage

    Unless products get cheaper because there are more resources, and thus market prices will naturally fall more easily. Try to think of indirect ramifications, and not immediate monetary gains.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 14, 2010 @04:36AM (#32562542)
    This isn't a troll, but I don't really think anyone outside of the USA actually expected the americans to leave anytime soon when they were about to invade.
  • by pmontra (738736) on Monday June 14, 2010 @04:36AM (#32562546) Homepage

    Who do you think works for the corporations? Answer: The taxpayers.

    My understanding is that US citizens must pay taxes in the USA even if they work abroad, but that's not the case for every other nationalities. So part of these salaries will go to the USA and part not.

    Also, do you think mining is going to be a nonprofit organization? They'll pay taxes to the government.

    Of which country? Corporations have proven to be very good at paying taxes where they cost them less money. Check this [bloomberg.com] for an example.

    This is great news because this could help wipe out Afghanistan's poverty, the actual biggest obstacle to a functioning government.

    That's exactly what happened everywhere oil or minerals have been discovered around the world. Middle East currently enjoys highest standard of living than the rest of the world thanks to half a century of massive oil extraction. Oh wait...

  • Sad comments (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DNS-and-BIND (461968) on Monday June 14, 2010 @04:38AM (#32562556) Homepage
    It appears that nobody is interested whatsoever in what will happen to Afghanistan - the only posts here so far are people projecting their fears and prejudices on this new phenomenon. Let me get in the mood - looks like Halliburton is going to have to fire up their earthquake machine again!
  • Re:Handy (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 14, 2010 @04:40AM (#32562566)

    OTOH, if discovery of these deposits were found as a direct result of US occupation, and Afghanistan sees resulting prosperity, the US's invasion could well be argued as benefiting the greater good... in half a century's time. For now, I think we can all accept that reasoning as bullshit. But historical opinion is always colored by affairs more recent, and so this assessment could eventually gain acceptance.

  • by timmarhy (659436) on Monday June 14, 2010 @04:43AM (#32562578)
    i've heard this tired argument time and time again, painting mining companies as the devil who sneaks in and steals the wealth and gives nothing back.

    it's FUD. mining companies pump bulk cash into economies and employ 10,000's of people. if you want to know who the real villains are, take a look at where all the royalties go - government coffers. corrupt government are the problem not mining companies. companies are neither good nor evil, they just want to do business.

  • by dragisha (788) <dragisha AT m3w DOT org> on Monday June 14, 2010 @04:44AM (#32562586)

    As you can see in http://kosovo99.tripod.com/minerals.htm [tripod.com] and Saudi Arabia and Iraq before, US has good history of coming to right places in right times...

    Also, Somaila's got some rich Uranium reserves... And I am 100% percent sure every big "human rights" hotspot od last century, and "terrorism" hotspot of 21st is "minerally supported".

    Hopely, Japanese touchdown on asteroid will change things so we will have less wars in future, and more riches coming from space.

  • by gsslay (807818) on Monday June 14, 2010 @04:50AM (#32562618)

    Yup. Pretty much.

    For a country and its people to benefit from that kind or resource they need a good government and structurally sound society right from the start. Otherwise the big corporations and foreign governments are going pitch up in the vacuum and carve up the riches for themselves.

    What the Afghans need more than anything is for everyone else to butt out and leave them alone.

  • by mike260 (224212) on Monday June 14, 2010 @04:53AM (#32562636)

    What's the going rate for a dead soldier again?

    I'd guess its' the cost of recruiting and training his replacement, plus death benefits. I'm sure that death is responsible for only a very small fraction of personnel turnover, so the replacement cost is probably a drop in the bucket. That leaves death benefits which appear to be $100k per KIA.

    So if the US got their hands on, say, 10% of the estimated $1 trillion, that could pay for around 1 million dead soldiers. Now obviously the cost of recruiting replacements would skyrocket before the death-toll got anywhere near 1 million, but you can get around that with a draft.

    Hang on, were you being rhetorical?

  • Re:And if you (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Macrat (638047) on Monday June 14, 2010 @04:57AM (#32562658)

    Don't forget China shares a border with Afghanistan

    And owns the mortgage on the USA.

  • by couchslug (175151) on Monday June 14, 2010 @04:57AM (#32562660)

    The Afghanis should get rich, but the wealth extraction requires expertise they don't have (killing each other has been more fun down the centuries).

    Expect leases to go up for bid as in Iraq. This is probably for the best, as competing major nations can buy in rather than fight over the nasty little place.

    Absent international intervention, what we know would happen is that the Taliban would take over and we'd have "rich Taliban". Money wouldn't turn these people into secular freethinkers overnight, they'd just be rich peasants.

  • Re:Handy (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 14, 2010 @04:59AM (#32562666)

    Don't think that the money spent on wars is lost. It goes to those close to politicians who start wars. The war industry benefits hugely from any war.

    Plus wars are invaluable to politicians. There's nothing better to rally a population than a war and good old military-based patriotism. No matter how bad you screw up, throw around a few patriotic phrases how "our boys" are defending "freedom" "for us" to satisfy the masses.

  • by paai (162289) on Monday June 14, 2010 @05:09AM (#32562710) Homepage

    Why do American minerals always end up in the soil of other countries?

    paai

  • Re:Handy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by LurkerXXX (667952) on Monday June 14, 2010 @05:18AM (#32562766)
    I don't think $1T in minerals is enough to justify an invasion and war alone, especially one that cost a significant fraction of that value, particularly if you look at the true cost of the conflict.

    Of course it is. You see, you are assuming the same people profiting from the enterprise are the same ones footing the bill. The one's profiting will buddies of Bush and Cheney. Execs of Haliburton, etc, etc. The one's left holding the bill are the American citizens.

  • by Rogerborg (306625) on Monday June 14, 2010 @05:21AM (#32562780) Homepage

    Obama has already promised that America will be out of Afghanistan by 2011

    ...except for a minimal peacekeeping force of a few hundred thousand military advisors.

  • by Viol8 (599362) on Monday June 14, 2010 @05:27AM (#32562808)

    Afghanistan isn't really a proper country. Its a load of seperate tribal areas with a border drawn around then that really represents where the surrounding countries end rather than where afghanistan starts. Is effectively ungovernable and has been throughout recorded history. The tribes come together against any outside aggressors but as soon as they're gone they turn in on themselves and the inter tribal conflicts start again. I don't expect this to change anytime soon.

  • Re:hmm (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Dalambertian (963810) on Monday June 14, 2010 @05:45AM (#32562876)
    Indeed - my spidy sense tells me there's prior knowledge hidden under all those 250,000 yet-to-be-leaked [slashdot.org] state department documents!
  • by hey! (33014) on Monday June 14, 2010 @05:45AM (#32562878) Homepage Journal

    I call this the Switzerland/Nigeria dichotomy: would you rather be a citizen of Switzerland, whose wealth is in the labor of its people, or Nigeria, whose wealth comes out of the ground?

    It isn't that we're going to end up staying there indefinitely. It's that when we leave there will be a government that values the people little more than it would a spade for digging stuff out of the ground, and that will suit us fine.

  • by f3rret (1776822) on Monday June 14, 2010 @05:49AM (#32562892)

    We used to be 'rich peasants' too, we used to be fundamentalists too (Recall the Catholic church in the dark ages and later on various forms of cultural fundamentalism), then we got rich by trade and various forms of mineral wealth.

    Guess what happened then, we turned into a stable democratic society. It stands to reason that any society below a certain wealth/developmental level will tend towards fundamentalism of various kinds and as wealth and developmental level increase in society freedoms starts to emerge.

    It has always bothered me that we in the developed world seem to have this idea that we can 'fix' the world, we seem to have this idea that we can just swoop in to a country which has a culture and history which is radically different from ours and impose our cultural values of 'freedom' on them.
    We used to be brutal and fundamentalist here in the western world and no-one came here to tell us how to live, instead we killed each other and did any number of horrible things and then eventually got tired of doing those things and settled down into what we known as the modern world.

  • by JRHodel (242257) on Monday June 14, 2010 @05:53AM (#32562904)

    It only takes a geologist or a google to show this has been publicly known for decades. Google "Afgan mineral specimens" and add -ebay for better results. The gem minerals being sold from Afgan locales are primarily those found in lithium-rich pegmatite deposits. The gems are worth from $100-100,000 for something that fits in a ziplock baggy. Raw lithium is valuable, but in rail-car amounts. I'm just an amateur geologist and if you had asked me I could have listed 3rd world countries with rich undeveloped minerals.

    The same is true of Pakistan. Neither country has heavy rail. Bolivia has rich mineral deposits and mines, and the natives are dirt-poor and poisoned by mining related pollution, so don't hold your breath for the Afgans/Pakis to become developed countries.

  • by talcite (1258586) on Monday June 14, 2010 @05:53AM (#32562910)

    This development may actually be the worst thing possible for the people of Afghanistan.

    The discovery of oil or abundant mineral wealth in many African states has caused severe corruption, wars, and generally speaking, bad times for those citizens. Specifically, Nigeria -> oil -> widespread government corruption and little development of general population. Congo -> diamonds -> civil war that's lasted for decades.

    If those states are any hint of what happens when lots of valuables are discovered in a weakly governed state, then there's going to be trouble in Afghanistan.

  • by f3rret (1776822) on Monday June 14, 2010 @05:57AM (#32562926)

    Democracy is not the only way to produce a functioning state. It is the way that works best here in The West due to our cultural background.

    Look at The Soviet union, it managed to grow to superpower status, get people into space and be more than a military match for The West, and it was never a democracy. Of course The Soviet Union collapsed, and we like to think that was because it was undemocratic, although to me it seems that it was more due to a lot of bad policy decisions in the social, economic and authority sectors that caused it to collapse.
    For a more modern example see China, also not a particularly democratic place, and also a place which is set to become the new superpower now that the US seems to be making the same policy decision that The Soviets were making.

  • by yyxx (1812612) on Monday June 14, 2010 @05:58AM (#32562936)

    Those corporations will ask for the local gov to take out a loan to build roads, dams, power, export networks.

    If they're smart, they are going to say to the corporations "we let you build it, but only if we get cheap power from you".

    Will the taxes collected and "haircuts, food, transportation, cell phones" balance the loans?

    Well, the people engaging in that economic activity have received the benefit and that can't be retroactively taken away.

    Have a look and South America, Africe ect. Loans where cheap but long term you need to pay out a lot more.

    Some countries have been doing well, others haven't. It's an imperfect and dangerous world, but they now have a better opportunity than they did before. If they screw up, they are probably no worse off than they were before.

  • Re:Handy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by demonlapin (527802) on Monday June 14, 2010 @06:02AM (#32562948) Homepage Journal
    What did you expect? The Soviets had a quarter of the country and had effective control of the industrial heartland of east-central Europe in Poland-Czechoslovakia-East Germany. Communism was on the march in Greece and Italy. It was in no way insane to think that the Soviets planned to push all of Germany into their camp and eventually dominate Europe.

    Given the relative wealth and GDP of East and West, I'd say it worked out pretty well for the population at large. But be assured: the US spent a lot of money making sure that the Nazis were defeated, and it was going to get its payback.
  • by Shin-LaC (1333529) on Monday June 14, 2010 @06:03AM (#32562956)

    Guess what happened then, we turned into a stable democratic society. It stands to reason that any society below a certain wealth/developmental level will tend towards fundamentalism of various kinds and as wealth and developmental level increase in society freedoms starts to emerge.

    That was Clinton's big idea back when he promoted China's entry into WTO, wasn't it? But what actually happened is that they just got rich, yet they are not any more democratic than before. I think they did get more nationalistic, though, so that's something.

  • thanks (Score:3, Insightful)

    by frovingslosh (582462) on Monday June 14, 2010 @06:06AM (#32562964)
    Oh, you mean like how all of the oil wells that were drilled by U.S. companies and then "nationalized" keeps Iran from becoming corrupt and evil, and run by religious fanatics? Thank for explaining that. Your understanding of the issue is clearly different than mine.
  • by f3rret (1776822) on Monday June 14, 2010 @06:10AM (#32562980)

    Why would they need to be democratic? They're obviously doing just fine without democracy.
    That's my point though, democracy does not equal freedom; in fact freedom is completely separate from democracy.
    Democracy is a way of making a functioning state, not a way of ensuring the freedoms of people in that state.

  • by fyngyrz (762201) on Monday June 14, 2010 @06:19AM (#32563028) Homepage Journal

    I think you're confused. You seem to think the point of having troops in Afghanistan is to achieve some lofty goal, like ridding them of the Taliban (impossible) or "bringing Democracy to them" (laughable, see the history of how well the soviets did "bringing Socialism to them.")

    No. The reason we're there - the only reason - is so that the money pump can operate transferring cash from USG coffers into the pockets of the military industrial complex. That's the whole thing, right there. Everything else is purest propaganda. We're not being "saved" from terrorism, the Afghanis have zero interest in our culture, the Taliban (if not by name, then certainly by culture) has a complete and utter lock on the region and the more we beat on them, the more sympathy they get. Which works great, because then we pump more dollars into the war, and the beat goes on.

    The Afghan war represents the longest single conflict the US has actively been involved in (that means actually fighting.) The cost (profit) of the Afghan war so far [costofwar.com] has been 277,444,750,000 as I write this, it's more now by quite a bit. Follow the link, take a look. Remember: Every dollar spent goes into someone's pocket. They're not burning up, being lost or otherwise leaving the economy. They go directly from the US government into the pockets of the military and those that supply the military. Primarily the latter.

    And what does the average person on the street here in the US benefit from this nearly 300 billion dollar corporate welfare program? Well, if you're employed by the defense industry, quite a bit. Otherwise, nothing. Both Iraq and Afghanistan are much more likely to produce terrorists now than they were before. Which, from the point of view of the MIC, is good, because that means more -- more wars, more airport scanners, more "security", etc. From the POV of the politicians, it means more erosion of the constitution ("emergencies", y'know), and more and more power focused in federal hands.

    Our society has become the world's poison pill. I wish it weren't; I wish we had managed to make a constitutional republic work, it does seem like the optimum model, but we never really got close, and now... now I think it's too late. There is so little of either an honest republic, or a constitutional basis underlying what does exist... and our "democracy" is so twisted into a two-parties-not-of-the-people model... I can't see how we can pull back from the brink here.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 14, 2010 @06:29AM (#32563072)

    Hey, the Taliban was a friend of the US not to long ago.

    You have to be blatantly ignorant if you think this will go up for public bid and the wealth will go to the Afghanistan.

    Not to mention how this reply could be labelled insightful, when flamebait would be better suiting for the racist remarks.

  • by C0L0PH0N (613595) on Monday June 14, 2010 @06:36AM (#32563096)
    "We used to be 'rich peasants' too, we used to be fundamentalists too (Recall the Catholic church in the dark ages and later on various forms of cultural fundamentalism), then we got rich by trade and various forms of mineral wealth.

    Guess what happened then, we turned into a stable democratic society. It stands to reason that any society below a certain wealth/developmental level will tend towards fundamentalism of various kinds and as wealth and developmental level increase in society freedoms starts to emerge."


    You are forgetting Saudi Arabia, made an incredibly wealthy country by any standard due to its recently found oil minerals, yet one of the most repressive fundamentalist regimes on the planet, source of the 9/11 terrorists, and source of the extreme Wahabi sect of Islam which promotes Sharia law in Western countries including the US, and which with Saudi Arabia's wealth, is being paid for world wide. Another Saudi Arabia, under the Taliban, would be frightening.
  • by 10101001 10101001 (732688) on Monday June 14, 2010 @06:40AM (#32563114) Journal

    On discovering silver mines in the Southern United States...

    'The Southerners should get rich, but the wealth extraction requires expertise they don't have (killing each other has been more fun down the centuries).

    Expect leases to go up for bid as in Afghanistan. This is probably for the best, as competing major nations can buy in rather than fight over the nasty little place.

    Absent international intervention, what we know would happen is that the Christians would take over and we'd ave "rich Christians". Money wouldn't turn these people into secular freethinkers overnight, they'd just be rich rednecks.'

    Feel free to twist the point into basically any situation you like where natural resources are found. Mind you, I'm not particularly happy with the prospects of Afghanistan getting the money either, really; sudden influxes of wealth from just about anything tend to exacerbate corruption issues--a fact evident repeatedly in history. Hell, even when it's an external country siphoning off the riches, it can backfire horribly. Consider Spain of the past as it relied upon gold in the New World to fund its military, eventually leading to its collapse as the eminent world power.

    In the end, I imagine the wealth will be squandered by all parties involved in some fashion, be it liquor and smokes or some sort of war, religious or purely political. The locals will almost certainly be effectively suppressed, anyways. The real sad part, to me, is how the summary acts like the $1 Trillion in minerals is of great worth. In the long term, that only equates to ~100 years of GDP.

    Once Afghanistan has its minerals liquidated, what do you think are the odds of the country not quickly reverting to "the nasty littler place" it started out as? I'd probably think of living it up today, too, if the future appeared so bleak. And as much as outsiders or even insiders to Afghanistan may work to break the monopolistic industry, the simple fact is that even in the best case nation (and economy) building is still too much an art and not a science.

  • by RobertLTux (260313) <robert@laurencemartin. o r g> on Monday June 14, 2010 @06:44AM (#32563140)

    What i can see happening is some Family Man getting into a meeting with a bunch of local folks and cutting a deal that goes like:

    1 You don't shoot my people and make sure that that IED [redacted] doesn't get used on the roads we need (and will be building)
    2 as we get the stuff mined and processed you get a cut of X%
    3 my people of course will be helping you get rid of your "problems"

  • by Darkman, Walkin Dude (707389) on Monday June 14, 2010 @06:49AM (#32563182) Homepage
    Reunification != becoming part of North Korea...
  • by metageek (466836) on Monday June 14, 2010 @06:55AM (#32563208)

    There has never been any country that became rich based on large mineral resources. The countries that have the largest mineral resources, like Brazil, Nigeria, Angola, etc. don't just became rich because of this. Rich countries are rich because they have know-how, not because they have resources (some do, but that is not why they're rich)

  • by fastest fascist (1086001) on Monday June 14, 2010 @06:55AM (#32563212)

    Absent international intervention, what we know would happen is that the Taliban would take over and we'd have "rich Taliban". Money wouldn't turn these people into secular freethinkers overnight, they'd just be rich peasants.

    Then they'd be rich peasants. What business does anyone outside Afghanistan have saying who should rule there?

  • by oakwine (1709682) on Monday June 14, 2010 @06:58AM (#32563234)
    By George $1 trillion is a lot of money! And this is probably just the tip of the iceberg! Imagine how much more the geologists could find if they were not dodging bullets all the time. Now let us be practical and reasonable. Extraction will be much easier if the country is uninhabited. It is time to declare the native population surplus and obsolete and zero them out. Well ... perhaps not all ... We will put the "good ones" on reservations. Plenty of firewater. They will be happy.
  • by wannabgeek (323414) on Monday June 14, 2010 @07:00AM (#32563236) Journal

    It stands to reason that any society below a certain wealth/developmental level will tend towards fundamentalism of various kinds and as wealth and developmental level increase in society freedoms starts to emerge.

    I have two words for you: Saudi Arabia
    How long have they been rich? How freer are they now than before?

  • by Aceticon (140883) on Monday June 14, 2010 @07:12AM (#32563314)

    Who do you think works for the corporations? Answer: The taxpayers.

    The percentage of a corporation's revenue that ends up in the hands of any of it's workers not having a CxO title is very small, especially in non-service industries (such as mining).

    Corporations don't increase salaries just because they're making more money, just like they don't decrease product prices just because labour/inputs costs went down. Both markets are set by the offer-vs-demand balance, not by a specific company's success.

    It's more likelly that the additional wealth from mining in Afghanistan would end up in:
    - Extra bonuses for CxOs and directors
    - Extra dividends/stock price increases for shareholder
    - Money misdirected to some "big men" in the Afghanistani administration
    - Protection money for the local warlords
    - Extra profits for weapons dealers for the weapons bought by the Afghanistani government and the local warlords so that the above-mentioned "big men" and warlords can hold on to the new wealth generating mining areas.

  • by bmo (77928) on Monday June 14, 2010 @07:17AM (#32563350)

    There is no president, not Obama, not his successor, that will extract us from Afghanistan now. Now it's about real money. To leave would be to cede everything to the Chinese, who would march in *tomorrow* and annex Afghanistan as "West China." And there would be *fuck all* anyone would be able to do about it. And the Taliban would not survive either. The Chinese will not give quarter/tolerate that bullshit. They will not play fair.

    The Great Game never died.

    --
    BMO

  • by AlterEager (1803124) on Monday June 14, 2010 @07:19AM (#32563364)
    Bullshit. The first thing resource extraction companies spend money on is bribes to government officials to get their royalty payments reduced.
  • by angelwolf71885 (1181671) on Monday June 14, 2010 @07:25AM (#32563414)
    lets give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they were looking for a viable alternative to opium for the Afghani people natural resources are usually a good alternative to nasty things like drugs and gangs and such
  • by MrNaz (730548) on Monday June 14, 2010 @07:27AM (#32563432) Homepage

    I like how everyone always says that the Chinese population are deceived by their government into a state of blissful ignorance. The USA has to have the best (or worst, depending on your perspective) "everything is fine, trust us" government in history. National debt stands at almost 90% of GDP. The US government will *never* be able to retire this debt, not in the lifetime of anyone alive today. Yet, it manages to still sell bonds on the bond market. It still funds public works through borrowing. It still bails out the very corporate sector that holds the majority of its debt. The US population still spends large amounts of credit card "money" on idiotic items that they don't need.

    And nobody asks questions about a war that deepens this debt significantly every year.

    How does nobody notice that the house you just built is on a train track and the freight train just appeared around the bend?

    The mind boggles.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 14, 2010 @07:28AM (#32563438)

    Except for the time when they had universities and a working government. Before russia and the usa showed interest in them.

  • by MrNaz (730548) on Monday June 14, 2010 @07:33AM (#32563492) Homepage

    Hey, we have the right, nay the DUTY to liberate their resources and use them for the benefit of the Afghan people by building McDonalds and Starbaucks there.

  • by nedlohs (1335013) on Monday June 14, 2010 @07:52AM (#32563650)

    So it isn't a guarantee, that hardly makes it a bad thing in and of itself.

    It does provide a chance for Afghanistan to get out of the hole it is currently in.

    The country needs a functioning economy and government. Natural resources, while probably the worst in terms of often being easily "captured" by corruption or the dictator/royalty/etc are great in terms of ease of ramping up.

    Afghanistan is not going to build a functioning financial services export sector in the next decade, or even a functioning factory based industrial sector, or become a tourist destination. The rest of the world is not going to let them make an economy on opium that isn't forced to be corrupt.

    That the US is currently waging a war in the country strangely enough increases the chances that the country can use the resources to bootstrap itself into stability.

    Doesn't mean it is certain by any stretch. But the chances before this was found were exactly 0, now it's a small positive number...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 14, 2010 @07:55AM (#32563676)

    More like:

    Nigeria -> oil (and western corporations) -> widespread government corruption and little development of general population.

    Congo -> diamonds (and western corporations) -> civil war that's lasted for decades.

  • by CarbonShell (1313583) on Monday June 14, 2010 @07:59AM (#32563720)

    Did you watch Fox News again? You do know 15% of their stuff is crap, and the other 85% is utter crap.

    You should check the history on Afghanistan and you would see that not only did the US support the Mujahedeen (and thus Osama) but also supported the Taliban as the follow-up 'government'.

    Not to long before 9/11 the US gov invited a Taliban group over for a visit and basically defended the Talibans oppression of women et al as 'their way of life'.
    They actually had women there sitting in Burkas and Mrs Bush next to them.

    You know, all that stuff they called bad AFTER 9/11.

    And before you go off on 9/11, read further about that whole situation. It would really surprise you. (how do you think we knew where Osama was? They were telling us!)

    You should REALLY read up on US history and it's dealings around the work.
    Though watch out, it might just disgust you.

  • by timmarhy (659436) on Monday June 14, 2010 @08:01AM (#32563734)
    wait so government officials are taking bribes but somehow the resource companies are the problem???
  • by 19thNervousBreakdown (768619) <davec-slashdot.lepertheory@net> on Monday June 14, 2010 @08:03AM (#32563784) Homepage

    How exactly is throwing different nouns in the same sentence absent any contextual connection an argument?

    Comparing Southerners to Afghans, or throwing the very country that's compared into the comparison sentence, or comparing US Christians to Middle-Eastern Islamics, or the poor people of the Middle East to the poor people of the US is just ridiculous. In the context we're discussing, they're simply not comparable. If you think they are, that would explain why you make such a poor argument.

    Also, how exactly is 100 years of GDP in wealth not of great worth? You don't think that will change a country? Really? $1 Trillion of found wealth would be a huge thing for the US, for Afghanistan it's an absolute game-changer. They will never, ever get the big countries fingers out of there now, and should be planning how to survive being the towel between two dogs. Somebody savvy enough could turn that into as much profit as the minerals themselves are worth, somebody foolish will practically pack it up and ship it out at their own cost just trying to curry favor.

  • How convenient (Score:2, Insightful)

    by intjgeek (1379637) on Monday June 14, 2010 @08:05AM (#32563810) Homepage
    This is a little too convenient I think. I wouldn't be surprised if this "find" eventually turns out to be much smaller than originally estimated.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 14, 2010 @08:08AM (#32563840)

    It stands to reason that any society below a certain wealth/developmental level will tend towards fundamentalism of various kinds and as wealth and developmental level increase in society freedoms starts to emerge.

    Cause uber-rich Saudi Arabia is recognized world-wide for the freedoms in their society and their lack of fundamentalism (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wahhabi [wikipedia.org])...

  • by shriphani (1174497) on Monday June 14, 2010 @08:08AM (#32563842) Homepage
    This is probably the biggest curse one can heap upon afghanistan. Poor nations with tons of natural resources, can never make good use of these resources. I can see an Afghan situation now that promises more warfare, more involvement from nations in the Indian subcontinent (none of which will produce a positive result) and a population that will be plunged into even greater poverty than the current situation. Also, no one would probably want to be responsible for a mineral rich nation which has been the site of war for 30 years, whose ex-despotic leaders want power and will kill anyone in their way and whose population is now truly pissed with all the liberators and the oppressors fighting for control. I am not sure why Afghanistan deserves this.
  • by Hognoxious (631665) on Monday June 14, 2010 @08:13AM (#32563886) Homepage Journal

    You are Robert McNamara AICMFP.

  • by Firethorn (177587) on Monday June 14, 2010 @08:16AM (#32563926) Homepage Journal

    This was exactly my thought.......how much oil revenue from Iraq has gone back to Iraq? George Bush doesnt seem to be starving or living in poverty does he. The easy way to find out who benfits is to see which members of the US government have investments in mining corps and bingo......the benficiary is there....oh yeah and their off shore bank accounts. Im not saying the current government is as corrupt as the last but????????? And another thought........why have the Pentagon been prospecting in a country that isnt their own and they are at war there......isnt that illegal.

    Interesting viewpoints.

    how much oil revenue from Iraq has gone back to Iraq?

    Quite a bit; they've set up oil leasing much like the USA. The companies involved keep quite a bit of the profits, but my understanding is that the profits from oil is running a lot of Iraq's social programs.

    why have the Pentagon been prospecting in a country that isnt their own and they are at war there......isnt that illegal.

    No, it isn't illegal, and prospecting is one way to help the Afghani economy, which is one of the primary things we're trying to rebuild there. It's simple enough, in my mind: Somebody with a full time job and a future to look forward to isn't likely to become an insurgent.

    You start training/hiring Afghanis to be miners, the Miners will marry, have children, send their kids to school, buy clothing, build houses, etc... It becomes a positive circle.

  • by Rich0 (548339) on Monday June 14, 2010 @08:19AM (#32563978) Homepage

    Perhaps it is possible that the following statements can both be true at the same time:

    1. The Chinese are governed by a totalitarian state that oppresses individual freedom and is corrupt, and this isn't right.

    2. The US Government is losing its democratic ideals and suffers from corruption, and this also isn't right.

    This isn't a who-is-better-us-or-them contest. The fact that the US needs reform doesn't mean that China does not.

  • by AhabTheArab (798575) on Monday June 14, 2010 @08:29AM (#32564070) Homepage

    I wish I could mod you to +6. Excellent.

    I went to Iraq twice, '06-'07 during the surge and most of '08. I have plenty of friends who have been to or are currently in Afghanistan. I would love to see these two countries get their act together and be successful. It's been done in the past by other countries/cultures. BUT the way to make it happen is not by pointing our guns at them.

    Unfortunately this find will only be of minimal help to the average Afghani. The only ones who will really profit are western corps and a few corrupt Afghani officials (read: Taliban). Furthermore, if Afghanistan allows western corporations to simply buy contracts to extract the minerals, even the corrupt Afghani officials will hardly see anything. If Afghanistan really wants to turn this into a long term benefit, they need to develop the ability to process these materials. The article mentioned lithium. Take the lithium and instead of selling it as lithium, turn them into lithium batteries, then sell them. Greater profit margin for the Afghani people and more jobs for them.

    Of course none of that really matters. Opium will always be more profitable for them especially when it's being protected by the CIA and pharm corps.

  • Ridiculous story (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Ancient_Hacker (751168) on Monday June 14, 2010 @08:34AM (#32564128)

    Ridiculous.

    Someone needs to inform whomver wrote this story:

    * Mining-company geologists have been scouring the globe for centuries, looking for mineral deposits that are economically recoverable.

    * Minerals do not know about arbitrary political boundaries, making it highly unlikely that this "treasure-trove", if it exists, is wholly contained in Afghanistan.

    * Minerals are heavy and hard to extract, which makes it paramount that there be things that Afghanistan has none of, such as rail lines, roads, ports, docks, electricity, coal, fresh water, chemicals, a stable government, a stable economy, and much more. Lacking just one of those items can make mining an impractical venture.

    * No bank is going to loan the hundreds of millions to billions needed to even begin to extract these minerals. Banks do not loan money into war zones with no history of a stable government or protection of private property, and when the only source of quasi-stability, the US military, is on a countdown to leave the country.

  • by couchslug (175151) on Monday June 14, 2010 @08:47AM (#32564312)

    "What business does anyone outside Afghanistan have saying who should rule there?"

    These are issues of power, it doesn't "matter" if they have any "business" (in the sense of ideals) in the region.

    In the real world, actors will act, works will be done, and every situation exploited for advantage by someone thus dictating that the wise participate to THEIR advantage.

    The world isn't fucking Star Trek and there is no Prime Directive.

  • by Myopic (18616) on Monday June 14, 2010 @08:49AM (#32564334)

    The UK is "still paying off" debt from WWII, and in fact still has some debts on the books from before the Napoleonic wars.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/4757181.stm [bbc.co.uk]

    Why? Because despite your not understanding it, the smart people who run the UK government know that it is better to roll over that debt than to pay it off. I won't explain it to you; get an economics textbook.

    So saying that debt will not be paid off in our lifetime is insufficient cause for alarm. I don't know how long your threshold is for when things aren't "fine", but if things can be projected out for two hundred years, I think it's reasonable to say that things are "fine". There MAY BE OTHER very good reasons to be concerned, but you didn't list any of them.

  • by khallow (566160) on Monday June 14, 2010 @08:53AM (#32564388)

    Even so, a third of the country lives on less than a dollar a day, and although that percentage has come down a lot

    [...]

    Still think mining has brought Ghanaians out of poverty?

    Yes. It might not be as effective in reducing poverty as say, removing developed world trade barriers to agricultural products, but I'd say you already have evidence that mining (which according to the CIA constitutes 25% of Ghana's economy) does help Ghana's citizens.

    As to your rebuttal to point 5, I think most of us are aware that mining isn't a clean industry and a lot of rock and earth has to be moved and processed in order to get the valuable minerals and metals. It doesn't warrant the vilification (even in the title "Dirty Metals") cited in the report you mention. From the introduction of this report:

    About This Report

    The purpose of this report is to show you how much metal there is in your life--from the gold in your jewelry to the aluminum in your automobile--and to explain how it was produced. If you live in the United States, your annual consumption of "newly-mined"minerals (as opposed to those produced from recycling) comes to 21 metric tons*--just over 57 kilos a day.1 This report will show you what lies behind that stupendous lode of copper and tantalum, gold and platinum.We'll explain how the mining of these and other metals damages landscapes, pollutes water, and poisons people.We'll show you why modern, industrial mining is one of the world's most destructive industries. And finally, we'll show you what we as consumers and concerned citizens can do to clean it up.

    Given this sort of slam and the peculiar religious beliefs (apparently, it's our religious duty to clean up mining because we exist and consume minerals that someone else sloppily mined). My take is that it is Ghana's responsibility to clean up its own mess. If they chose not to, then I'm not going to second-guess them. The only real global consequences are a little more toxic metals in the oceans, which remains an insignificant problem as far as I'm concerned compared to its positive effect on reducing poverty. You seem to feel differently, even to the point of expending your own resources and effort to bring about a change. I have no problem with that either.

    Finally, I don't know this Joan Baxter, but merely citing that she is a BBC correspondent doesn't fill me with trust. As I see it, the BBC (and much of British media) already has a blatant pro-environmentalist bias which Baxter seems to fit right into. Would a flawed or even deceptive book threaten her relationship with the BBC? Maybe in earlier days it would. I doubt it would now, unless some crime were involved in the publication.

  • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Monday June 14, 2010 @09:16AM (#32564680) Journal

    Exactly. Rich peasants isn't a problem, rich rulers and poor peasants is. The problem with most historical cases of raw material resource discovery in countries that don't already have a stable and representative government is that the money goes to the existing oligarchs. Look at what happened in any of the former British colonies, for example. Most of the money went to taxes in Britain (not the colony), to companies like the East India Company, and to the individuals in charge. Compare this with something like the North Sea or Alaskan oil reserves, both of which were used to fund government spending in the areas containing them.

    If this money is used to do what the USA should have done when the USSR collapsed - invest in education and development of Afghanistan - then it's great. If it's used to make tribal leaders and foreign investors rich, not so great.

  • by rickb928 (945187) on Monday June 14, 2010 @10:03AM (#32565292) Homepage Journal

    "National debt stands at almost 90% of GDP."

    My current personal debt is approximately 220% if my gross yearly income. About 70% of it is secured by tangible assets.

    Our government does have a debt near 90% of GDP, but if it started selling off assets, even less tangible assets such mineral rights, they might be able to secure as much as 30% of that.

    So by the numbers, I am way worse off than my government. Except that I have income, and I can direct my income to pay off my debt. My government shows little inclination to pay down the debt, and in fact is increasing it at an alarming rate.

    This is the problem.

  • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Monday June 14, 2010 @11:24AM (#32566402) Journal

    then we got rich by trade and various forms of mineral wealth.

    Guess what happened then, we turned into a stable democratic society. It stands to reason that any society below a certain wealth/developmental level will tend towards fundamentalism of various kinds and as wealth and developmental level increase in society freedoms starts to emerge.

    Yeah. Like, say, Nigeria, which propped itself to a stable democratic society thanks to the profits from all that oil [wikipedia.org]. ~

  • by Hurricane78 (562437) <deleted@@@slashdot...org> on Monday June 14, 2010 @11:29AM (#32566458)

    severe corruption, wars, and generally speaking, bad times for those citizens.

    I’m sorry, but how is this different from the last decades and maybe even centuries in Afghanistan? ;)
    I don’t think anyone down there can still remember good times.
    It’s really incredibly sad.
    If Afghanistan were a person, that person would have been the victim of the “Super Adventure Club [wikipedia.org]” (a club of Fritzl [wikipedia.org]s), locked in the basement and raped for decades.

    It’s a surprise that there are still healthy and normal people down there. We’d probably have gone berserk with a bomb by now.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 14, 2010 @12:29PM (#32567352)

    If you read the NYT article carefully, you'd know that these minerals have been known about since before the Soviet invasion in 1979, so it's not some miracle that America and our NATO friends have brought to the Afghan people. If the biggest "obstacle" to them developing these resources has been "poverty" it is only because outside powers haven't stopped trying to "nation-build" in their image long enough for Afghans to develop these resources on their own, or perhaps with the help of a nation of their choosing, not a nation that has chosen for them.

    Also, the year before NATO invaded Afghanistan, the Taliban had declared opium production unIslamic. Production was reduced by over 90%. If opium is a problem in Afghanistan, it was exacerbated by NATO intervention.

  • you didn't happen to notice the military suppression of democracy activists exactly a year ago in iran?

    the usa does plenty of evil in the world, and is full of bible thumping assholes, but this is its first amendment:

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

    http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/conlaw/estabinto.htm [umkc.edu]

    meanwhile, this is the beginning of iran's constitution:

    Article 1

    The form of government of Iran is that of an Islamic Republic, endorsed by the people of Iran on the basis of their longstanding belief in the sovereignty of truth and Qur'anic justice, in the referendum of Farwardin 9 and 10 in the year 1358 of the solar Islamic calendar, corresponding to Jamadi al-'Awwal 1 and 2 in the year 1399 of the lunar Islamic calendar (March 29 and 30, 1979], through the affirmative vote of a majority of 98.2% of eligible voters, held after the victorious Islamic Revolution led by the eminent marji' al-taqlid, Ayatullah al-Uzma Imam Khumayni.

    Article 2

    The Islamic Republic is a system based on belief in:

    1.the One God (as stated in the phrase "There is no god except Allah"), His exclusive sovereignty and the right to legislate, and the necessity of submission to His commands;
    2.Divine revelation and its fundamental role in setting forth the laws;
    3.the return to God in the Hereafter, and the constructive role of this belief in the course of man's ascent towards God;

    4.the justice of God in creation and legislation;
    5.continuous leadership (imamah) and perpetual guidance, and its fundamental role in ensuring the uninterrupted process of the revolution of Islam;
    6.the exalted dignity and value of man, and his freedom coupled with responsibility before God; in which equity, justice, political, economic, social, and cultural independence, and national solidarity are secured by recourse to:
    1.continuous ijtihad of the fuqaha' possessing necessary qualifications, exercised on the basis off the Qur'an and the Sunnah of the Ma'sumun, upon all of whom be peace;

    http://www.iranonline.com/iran/iran-info/government/constitution-1.html [iranonline.com]

    and this is a country where democracy has just been trumped by the revolutionary guards, where now you can wonder whether the country is a military autocracy or a theocracy. either way, officially, a bunch of grumpy old men interpret the will of god, somehow, and they now have their fingers on nuclear bombs. i don't care if you love the usa, hate the usa, love israel, hate israel, but a nuclear armed theocracy cum military autocracy should bother the hell out of you

    but instead we have fools like you, who so hate the usa or israel, that they are willing to embrace an entity far far worse

    friend: why can't you hate israel, hate the usa, AND hate iran?

    why does your hatred of the usa and israel so blind your faculties that you wind up embracing a nuclear armed theocracy?

    holy men who say they have a monopoly on interpretting the will of god, with nuclear weapons, isn't something that bothers you? no matter what the usa or israel does?

  • by illumin8 (148082) on Monday June 14, 2010 @02:21PM (#32569168) Journal

    It stands to reason that any society below a certain wealth/developmental level will tend towards fundamentalism of various kinds and as wealth and developmental level increase in society freedoms starts to emerge.

    I'll give you a huge counter-example: Saudi Arabia. I could list dozens of other countries, especially in the continent of Africa, which have huge mineral wealth but corrupt governments. Mineral and resource wealth does not always bring about freedom. Expecting the rest of the world's path towards democracy to be the same as ours in the US seems like a bad idea.

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