Afghanistan Jackpot! It's Filled With Precious Metals!
If you thought Afghanistan was only profitable for opium wholesalers and the defense industry, think again! According to some convenient new geological study of the mountainous, wild land that has broken the backs of so many empires, the whole place is chock full of precious metals -- $1 trillion in reserves, maybe, including "huge veins of iron, copper, cobalt, gold and critical industrial metals like lithium." This is great news for somebody, but we're betting it's not going to be particularly good for the Afghan people, the American military people, the other NATO military people, the U.S. taxpayer, anybody vaguely concerned about Pakistani nukes raining down upon London or New York, the mental condition of angry loners considering leaving car bombs in Times Square, or people stocking up on gold right now.
An internal Pentagon memo, for example, states that Afghanistan could become the “Saudi Arabia of lithium,” a key raw material in the manufacture of batteries for laptops and BlackBerrys.
Ha ha, nothing at all wrong with that sentence. Anything else to look forward to?
The mineral deposits are scattered throughout the country, including in the southern and eastern regions along the border with Pakistan that have had some of the most intense combat in the American-led war against the Taliban insurgency.
Well, at least it might lead to a resource struggle with China, as it would be very easy and convenient for the established Chinese mining industry to go to work basically next door. But of course Western mining firms will demand priority access, and the warlords will take their healthy cut, and then everybody will be happy with their new Blackberry iPad and terrorism will be forgotten. [New York Times]