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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.
    • 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 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.

        • by Macrat (638047) on Monday June 14, 2010 @04:49AM (#32562612)

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

          It will benefit the gov't of Haliburton.

        • 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.

          • 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 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.

              • 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 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 chrb (1083577) on Monday June 14, 2010 @07:35AM (#32563500)

                You are forgetting Saudi Arabia, made an incredibly wealthy country by any standard

                What about the income of the average Saudi citizen? What is the distribution of incomes across all of society? Unequal distribution of wealth is a known driver of social unrest.

                NY Times [nytimes.com]: "While poor Saudis line up for hours to obtain water in Jidda, others are able to take advantage of America's new-found disdain for gas-guzzling four-wheel-drives by snapping up imported cars."

                American Chronicle [americanchronicle.com] "Currently, almost all of the oil wealth that flows into Saudi Arabia goes directly into the hands of the royal family. What that means is, roughly 5000 people control all of the money in the country leaving the other 20,850,000 living anywhere between lower middle class and abject poverty. "

                Regardless, I would argue that Saudi Arabia is in fact getting more open - there are almost 8 million internet users [google.com]. Even behind an Internet filter, the average citizen is getting access to more information than they did 10 years ago.

              • 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 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?

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              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]. ~

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by illumin8 (148082)

              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 to

          • by ragefan (267937) on Monday June 14, 2010 @06:35AM (#32563094)

            I think this would have to be a huge boon for Pakistan as well. With Afghanistan being land-locked there are only 2 directions to the sea to ship it out, Iran and Pakistan. Pakistan would be wise to collect fees for providing the infrastructure to get ore to port.

        • 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.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Hurricane78 (562437)

            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

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by jonwil (467024)

          The Afghan government under Karzai (who are recognized by the world as the legal rulers of Afghanistan) has the right to pass whatever laws they like governing the running of their country.
          If the land the minerals sits on is land owned by the government (e.g. land owned by the government and leased to farmers to farm on) then the government gets to say who can and cant mine those minerals. If the land is owned by private individuals, the government can still set rules for the mining of those minerals.

          In eit

      • by gd2shoe (747932) on Monday June 14, 2010 @04:33AM (#32562532) Journal

        Sadly, no. You must start with a healthy government before mineral riches become a boon to the average citizen, let alone the poor.

        http://www.hulu.com/watch/91538/vanguard-rebels-in-the-pipeline [hulu.com]

      • 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...

        • by psnyder (1326089) on Monday June 14, 2010 @06:25AM (#32563062)

          My understanding is that US citizens must pay taxes in the USA even if they work abroad

          As a US citizen that works abroad, I have to FILE taxes, but pay nothing. I basically declare that I made a certain amount working abroad and was taxed in that country. I declare I made 0 in the US, and I owe 0 US taxes. Apparently making rather large sums of money overseas is different, according to the H&R Block person who helps me file.

          Also, bringing over 10K back into the US is taxed.

          Note: I live in a 1st world country that the US is quite friendly with. It may be different in Afghanistan.

          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...

          The United Arab Emirates has a fairly high standard of living because of the discovery of oil there. Before discovering it, they were scraping by on fishing.

          However, it's not a 1 step process. The 2nd step has a lot to do with it: "The late Sheikh Zayed, ... president of the UAE at its inception, ... directed oil revenues into healthcare, education and the national infrastructure. [bbc.co.uk]"

      • by adam (1231) * on Monday June 14, 2010 @05:11AM (#32562724)
        If you think mineral deposits "wipe out poverty" you ought to travel to west Africa.

        The vast majority (99%+) of Sierra Loeneans who spend their lives in poverty, toiling to find diamonds, have never seen a finished and cut diamond. Many never even find a single diamond. Sierra Leone ranks amongst the five least developed countries.

        A single gold mine in Mali will produce $1.5BN (USD) and has made a 0.07% reinvestment ($100k) in schools from its World Bank loan. The words of one worker, “[w]e read on the Internet that AngloGold has pronounced that Morila is the most profitable gold mine in the world, and yet most workers here get no lodging or training, or even health care. In South Africa, AngloGold is paying for the anti-retrovirals for its staff that are HIV-positive, and here they take all our medical costs out of our salaries.” Mine companies often pay only hundreds of thousands of dollars per year in lease fees.

        Rutile is 95% titanium dioxide and Sierra Leone’s deposits of rutile may account for as much as 30% of the world’s supply, and the U.S. government lists it as a “strategic metal” to be stockpiled by the U.S. defense department. Sierra Leone is pock-marked by destroyed farmland and displaced communities, all in the name of rutile and diamond minining.

        Another poster made an allusion to the mid-east, but Africa I think is a much better example as oil actually has been good for the average person in some mid-east countries, but these are fairly stable and developed countries. To look at natural resource reserves in unstable and undeveloped countries, versus stable, one only has to look at Oman and Yemen (both oil-rich and neighbors, one has GDP per capita 10x of the other). West Africa is a much better comparison to Afghanistan than Kuwait or the UAE (so if you want to make the mid-east comparison, skip Dubai and look at Yemen).

        For a good read (and my source for much of the info above) I would recommend Joan Baxter's Dust from our Eyes.
        • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 14, 2010 @06:18AM (#32563024)

          A few points

          • You ignore any tax, royalty or dividens the local governments get
          • By your figures, you seem to imply the Morila mine got a $150m loan from the World Bank.
            • Mining companies usually finance their own exploration & development
            • The loan, if given, should be paid back to the World Bank, not reinvested in the community
            • This [worldbank.org] seems to imply the Morila mine received no loan, while a related project got a $25m loan back in 1996. As an aside, the same article also metions that the Government of Mali got $156m in taxes, royalties and dividends from the property that did get the loan
          • Community investment is now standard practice by all respectable mining companies operating in the third world
            • The investment from the mine you mentioned is more that $100k; apparently, $160k was invested in a single year [randgoldresources.com]:

              "Randgold Resources is also committed to the integration of environmental and social impact management into its business activities, and operates to international standards in this regard. On the social responsibility front, Morila last year spent more than US$160 000 on direct community development while Loulo spent more than US$240 000 on projects ranging from building and equipping schools to malaria control programmes," he said.

            • The same press release gives a current figure for the taxes, royalties and dividends:

              Bristow said Mali presented an outstanding example of what this approach could achieve. He noted that over the past 10 years, Randgold Resources alone had invested and reinvested more than US$1 billion there. During that time, the mines it developed at Morila and Loulo - in areas where there had been little economic activity other than subsistence farming - had paid US$500 million directly to the government in taxes, royalties and dividends. It was the largest single taxpayer in the country as well as its largest private-sector employer...

          • Finally, if you want to look at West Africa, why not look at Ghana - the first West African country to gain independence, a country with political and social stability, and a country with a long history of mining (it used to be known as the Gold Coast). Mining there is a huge contributor to the national economy, and has been for years.

          Mining can be damaging to the environment and to communities, and it is important that a close eye be kept on the industry, especially when it operates in countries with weak governments. But, the assumption that mines are inherently destructive, and that mining companies are inherently evil, is wrong.

          • by adam (1231) * on Monday June 14, 2010 @07:31AM (#32563472)
            [1] I don't ignore tax/royalty/dividends that may go to the local government in my original post. I partially address this (mine leases in Mali that are in the hundreds-of-thousands-of-dollars per year), but even if the mines are paying "fair" taxes (etc) to the governments, that implies very little about eradicating poverty in a country that is unstable undeveloped. See: Yemen vs Oman. When something like 90% of US foreign aid comes directly back to the United States (source: Baxter's book, which is full of cites, apologies I don't have it available), I am dubious that the taxes paid by natural resource extraction firms will be any more beneficial to the impoverished people of a region.

            [2] Morila did get a $150M loan, yes (source: Joan Baxter). These types of loans usually call for community investment, that is the point of the World Bank (ostensibly anyway), to develop countries, not to make mine owners richer (although you can make a good argument for the inverse! See documentary: Life and Debt). As to whether they got this loan, I tend to trust Joan Baxter on this matter (she's a BBC correspondent, etc), although I don't have her book handy (I loaned it to a colleague).

            [3] Claims of community reinvestment are now standard practice, sure. Note: you are citing mining companies press released. According to BP's web site they are "unaware of any reason" that would have caused their "share price movement." This just happens to be a timely example, but I think it's a good one, in that it's pretty obvious what caused their share price movement (I assume their argument would be that they are still quite profitable despite their current environmental catastrophe — while that may be true, this argument is spin, at best). I am extremely dubious of any claims made by mining interests as to what they are investing in communities. I'd rather believe neutral sources (like BBC reporters) who actually VISIT these areas and report on what they've seen. "Investing" $240,000 might mean they have a $200,000/yr consultant on payroll and he had $40,000 in expenses while "researching" how to help the community.

            Quoting your press released, "in areas where there had been little economic activity other than subsistence farming..." Maybe those farmers were happy. Now there is "economic activity" there, but are the farmers more or less impoverished? I'll bet more. We are debating whether minerals in undeveloped countries bring people out of poverty, mind you, not whether mining companies pay taxes.

            [4] Ghana is the most stable of western African countries, and thus the least applicable to Afghanistan. Nevertheless, I'm happy to talk about it. I'll be spending three months in Ghana this year doing infectious disease work, so I'm reasonably versed on its issues. As you stated, Ghana might be the best case example. Even so, a third of the country lives on less than a dollar a day, and although that percentage has come down a lot, and they may well meet their MDG for poverty by 2015, it's still not great. More than half the country lives on less than $2/day. 40 years ago South Korea and Ghana had the same per capita income (source: council on foreign relations). Still think mining has brought Ghanaians out of poverty? PPP GDP nowadays for Korea = $27000, Ghana = $1400. No contest as to who is still mired in poverty. I'll admit that I have a biased perspective, when I see children dying because their parents couldn't afford the twenty-six cent cost of a measles inoculation, three dollars for malaria treatment, or ten dollars for a bed net. And I have yet to witness mining or oil extraction doing much to help fix this. Sierra Leone, Nigeria, etc, the story is always the same ... as the "subsistence" farmers if their lives are better after the "economic activity" came to their region, and the answer is invariably: NO.

            [5] To address the last sentence of your post, "But, the assumption that mines are inherently destructive, and that mining co
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by khallow (566160)

              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 vilifica

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by nedlohs (1335013)

          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 factor

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        hahahahahaha

        thanks I needed a good laugh

        money will be burned in the future market

        money will be then passed to shareholders as dividend and managers as benefit

        taxes will be evaded, with a bit of hollywood accounting and offshore trickery

        I didn't see the employ at elrond and leman brothers getting a share of their former richness,
        neither the employ of BP or texaco

        and I'm sure nigerians could have something to say about getting rich with their natural resources.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by metageek (466836)

        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 arobatino (46791) on Monday June 14, 2010 @07:03AM (#32563258)

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

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Resource_curse

      • 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 Darkman, Walkin Dude (707389) on Monday June 14, 2010 @04:30AM (#32562526) Homepage
      Mineral and resource rights don't need to be squandered or stolen in every case, two examples of countries which used their resources for the benefits of their citizens are Norway and Saudi Arabia. Afghanistan has been a persistent tribal hellhole basically forever, and I would hold out hope that the discovery of abundant natural resources will help give its citizens a sense of national identity, national pride, and a vastly improved quality of life, as well as an alternative to opium. Part of that process might be guidance from the western powers, however, since I have real doubts it can be achieved by the tribal leaders.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 14, 2010 @06:14AM (#32563000)

        Saudi Arabia has not had its oil resources benefit the citizens. Last time I was there you could see white (whites are normally first class citizens and not immigrants) citizens beg on the streets. In saudi arabia you cant have a successful business because if you have, someone from the royal family will come by and tell you that you have a partner, or that you have a paper to sign. So no one in saudi tries to be successful at business, they just do as to go buy. Now, when I was there I saw people live in tents, no it was not during hajj season, and no it was not in some desert, it was inside a city, they were there for a few days, until the police came and throwed them away. In saudi arabia, citizens are poor, non-citizens are poor, only some privileged families are richer than average, these are the families that have contacts with the royal families. If you dont have contact with the royal family you are not even going to have functioning running water in your house.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Twinbee (767046)

      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 DNS-and-BIND (461968) on Monday June 14, 2010 @04:41AM (#32562570) Homepage
      Obama has already promised that America will be out of Afghanistan by 2011. Didn't you get the memo? Surely he was briefed on this top-secret information before he made his decision. Looks like it's a good day to be Chinese - they certainly won't be bothered by our moral concerns.
    • 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 arcite (661011) on Monday June 14, 2010 @04:52AM (#32562626)
      America will do what it does best, bring democracy and freedom to the world. Those American corps better get their bids sorted, the Chinese are good at undercutting everyone.
    • by yyxx (1812612) on Monday June 14, 2010 @04:53AM (#32562638)

      Even worse, in the end the only ones who will benefit are the corporations.

      And those corporations employ people, people who need haircuts, food, transportation, cell phones, and other stuff, people who pay taxes, people who need to get educated, people who get salaries.

      And while it might be nice for Afghanis if Afghanistan could become the Switzerland of Asia--you know, build nice hotels, make world-class chocolate, and handle large, shady monetary transactions anonymously--that's not in the cards. This may not be quite as good, but it still beats the Taliban and ... well, whatever economic basis Afghanistan had before.

    • by Hanzie (16075) * on Monday June 14, 2010 @05:10AM (#32562716)
      Are you guys seriously thinking the US will get ANY of it? The Afghan gov't stopped caring about the US the day we announced we were leaving. The Afghan gov't has already been cutting it's deals with the Taliban. The US is exactly on the other side of the planet. Hell, we don't even have a friendly neighboring country to get the ore through. What do you think we'll do? FLY it to the US? The Chinese have this locked tight. If we tried to set up any sort of operation, Al-Queda would kill our people, if the Talibani didn't get to them first. The whole point under discussion is us taking the value away from the Afghanis. Can't happen. For anyone else, it's a cheap operation with cheap labor. For us it would be a military operation with expensive contractors getting killed every day. Cannot happen. The Chinese have this one in the bag.
      • 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 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.

    • 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"

  • I guess that means the US won't be in any hurry to leave now.

  • 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.
    • Re:And if you (Score:5, Informative)

      by kevinbr (689680) on Monday June 14, 2010 @04:20AM (#32562470)

      Don't forget China shares a border with Afghanistan

  • 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.

    • 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 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.

    • 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.

  • Handy (Score:3, Interesting)

    by pev (2186) on Monday June 14, 2010 @04:20AM (#32562468) Homepage

    Well, isn't it lucky that the USA has invaded already - it saves them having to invent a thin pretext to invade later! Of course, the conspiracy theorists will probably be saying that this was all already known and was the pretext for the invasion but didn't make it public knowledge until now so that people wouldn't make a mental link between the resources and the invasion....

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by raxhonp (136733)

      Definitively, only conspiracy theorists could believe it was already known and the pretext for the invasion. Personally, I have always supported the war for freedom the U.S. is ready to sacrifice so much for in Afghanistan. The same when it was for saving the world from weapons of mass destruction by having to invade Iraq. Only conspiracy theorists could come up with the option that it was only a way to put oil resources between American hands. Crazy.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Yvanhoe (564877)
      Actually the source I first learned about it this morning (in French sorry) is this article [lefigaro.fr] and it states that the geologists used hints from a USSR survey in the 1980s that they kept secret during the Taleban government. So, yeah, some conspiracies are plausible here.
  • by RenHoek (101570) on Monday June 14, 2010 @04:20AM (#32562474) Homepage

    I'm sure the fair and honest Haliburton people will find a way to mine it exclusively and give the locals a fair share.

  • Why? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by frovingslosh (582462) on Monday June 14, 2010 @04:23AM (#32562490)
    So exactly why did the Pentagon spend my tax dollars to find mineral riches for a corrupt and hostile foreign country? And why did we tell them about it before an honest and American friendly government (if the even is such a thing) was in place?
  • by ThePangolino (1756190) on Monday June 14, 2010 @04:27AM (#32562506) Homepage
    China was on it since 2008. At least. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/asia/article3941656.ece [timesonline.co.uk]
    The Economist had an interesting story about it something like one year ago. I couldn't find it unfortunately.
    • by Hanzie (16075) * on Monday June 14, 2010 @04:43AM (#32562576)
      Yeah, I know a guy who has been there on business a few times. He mentioned a 'mountain that was basically solid copper'. The Chineese bought it and are running a new set of railroad tracks directly back to china. As this is in China's back yard, it takes a lot of pressure off the demand side of our markets. Prices will fall on these minerals, or at least not rise so fast. The 'I hate American capitalist pig-dogs' brigade can rest easy. There is no way on earth to get Americans to be miners in Afghanistan price competitively with Chinese slave labor.
  • 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!
  • by assemblerex (1275164) on Monday June 14, 2010 @04:42AM (#32562572)
    If my suspicions are correct...
  • Invade! (Score:4, Funny)

    by hedleyroos (817147) on Monday June 14, 2010 @05:14AM (#32562746)

    Oh, wait...

  • Gold.. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Jaysyn (203771) <jaysyn+slashdot@NoSPAm.gmail.com> on Monday June 14, 2010 @05:18AM (#32562758) Homepage Journal

    So are we going to get to see the price of gold plummet again like it did in the 90's? Could be very interesting times for everyone who bought into the Goldline / Beck fiasco.

  • 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 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

  • That's ironic (Score:3, Interesting)

    by NotSoHeavyD3 (1400425) on Monday June 14, 2010 @08:31AM (#32564108)
    I mean the fact that a land that has seen loads of war and oppression across a good portion of history sits on an element that amongst other things is rather famously used in mood stabilizers.
  • 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.

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