riches in Afghanistan spur imperialist grab
By David Sole
Oct 17, 2011
It isn’t often that you get an education in
political science from a prominent journal dedicated to the natural sciences.
But the October 2011 issue of Scientific American has provided an answer to the
question many have posed: Why has the United States been carrying on a war in
Afghanistan for the past 10 years?
In an article titled, “Afghanistan’s Buried
Riches,” author Sarah Simpson reveals a startling account of the collaboration
between the U.S. Army and the U.S. Geological Survey in that war-torn country.
For seven years 50 USGS geologists have been ferried around in Black Hawk
helicopters along with their personal military escorts. Often the scientists
land for only one hour, surrounded by armed troops in areas that could erupt
into firefights at any time.
These scientists and the Pentagon have
covered the country and mapped an amazing array of rich mineral deposits.
The USGS project director, Jack H. Medlin,
told the author that Afghanistan could be “one of the most important mining
centers on earth.” In one area the USGS has identified deposits of rare earth
minerals that could supply the world’s demand for 10 years at a value estimated
at $7.4 billion. The Pentagon figures that same site has an additional $82
billion worth of other important minerals.
A map of the country’s deposits shows huge
areas of lead, zinc, tungsten, lithium, tin, copper, gold and iron
conservatively estimated to be worth hundreds of billions of dollars. A single
site south of Kabul has been leased out for copper mining and is expected to
yield $43 billion.
Simpson reports that the Pentagon and the
World Bank, working through the Afghan Ministry of Mines, plan to auction six
major mineral sites in the coming months. Iron deposits west of Kabul are
thought to be worth $420 billion alone. Twenty-three international mining
corporations have submitted intentions to bid on these and other mining tracts.
Perhaps the most startling revelation is that
the USGS was given the go-ahead to survey Afghanistan only three weeks after
the Sept. 11 attack on the World Trade Center. “The 2001 U.S. invasion opened
the door,” the article states candidly.
Finding and mapping the mineral deposits is
one thing. Setting up mining operations in the middle of an ongoing war is
quite another. It remains to be seen if the Afghan people will permit foreign
corporations to loot their vast mineral wealth without a bitter fight. The U.S.
military machine has been unable, after 10 years, to pacify the country and
establish a functioning puppet regime. Perhaps now people in the U.S. can see
more clearly what this war has really been about.