Author Topic: Pentagon leaks "Vast Riches in Afghanistan" to gain support for new offensive  (Read 27576 times)

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Offline agentbluescreen

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All that glitters most in the treacherous, godforsaken wilderness of back hills Afghanistan, in the middle of nowhere to begin with, is the gleam in the eyes of it's rarest gem, a Saudi Sheik and US intelligence operative named Osama bin Ladin.  Mining this asset has doubtless been the most compelling and profitable enterprise in the nation since the Soviets left, and doubtlessly has been the most phenomenal "gold rush" in it's long history...

It's other minerals are far more economically extracted by growing poppies and primo hashish.

If it's mining you need, it'd be far more practical to get the Chinese to invade :)

Offline larsonstdoc

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Re: Massive Mineral Gold deposits found in Afghanistan
« Reply #41 on: June 14, 2010, 08:33:48 pm »

Bob Chapman amendum.

  It would take 8 to 10 years to have a gold mine operational in Afghanistan.

  NY Times broke this story--part of the Illuminati


Offline Letsbereal

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Re: Massive Mineral Gold deposits found in Afghanistan
« Reply #42 on: June 14, 2010, 08:44:08 pm »
Like said Ol News therefore Propaganda Stunt.



Afghanistan is endowed with a wealth of natural resources, including extensive deposits of natural gas, petroleum, coal, copper, chromite, talc, barites, sulfur, lead, zinc, iron ore, salt, and precious and semiprecious stones. In the 1970s the Soviets estimated Afghanistan had as much as five trillion cubic feet (tcf) of natural gas, 95 million barrels of oil and condensate reserves, and 400 million tons of coal. Unfortunately, ongoing instability in certain areas of the country, remote and rugged terrain, and inadequate infrastructure and transportation network have made mining these resources difficult, and there have been few serious attempts to further explore or exploit them.

Markets shrug off Afghan minerals 'discovery' - Afghanistan's vast resources not news
14 june 2010
, by Nick Godt (MarketWatch)
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Offline agentbluescreen

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Re: Massive Mineral Gold deposits found in Afghanistan
« Reply #43 on: June 14, 2010, 08:45:01 pm »

Bob Chapman amendum.

  It would take 8 to 10 years to have a gold mine operational in Afghanistan.

  NY Times broke this story--part of the Illuminati


LOL  could it get any more ridiculous? THEY don't even have clue number one who the hell they say they are fighting is, there. They can't even secure a fruit stand in a city market.

Does anyone have a clue how much it costs to ship a parcel from or to there?  There's lots of gold in the Grand Canyon too, just because it's there doesn't get you any.

It would take 8 to 10 years if they were just building one in South Africa. This would cost thousands of times more, just for hazard pay.

Offline Letsbereal

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Re: Massive Mineral Gold deposits found in Afghanistan
« Reply #44 on: June 14, 2010, 09:01:25 pm »
Webster Tarpley: Afghan minerals: Uncovered conspiracy
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Offline agentbluescreen

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Re: Massive Mineral Gold deposits found in Afghanistan
« Reply #45 on: June 14, 2010, 09:08:37 pm »
Afghanistan has but one precious resource and it is the gleam in the eyes of one noble-Tory Saudi Sheik and ex-CIA employee named Osama bin Ladin. As long as that resource remains at large they have free government, a lively income and asset redistribution economy and lucrative wages forever.

Offline Dig

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‘Discovery’ of Afghan riches a pro-war PR scam?
By Daniel Tencer
Monday, June 14th, 2010 -- 7:57 pm

A New York Times report announcing the US has found $1 trillion-worth of mineral deposits in Afghanistan has some observers wondering if the news is part of a public-relations effort to bolster support for the Afghanistan war as the mission's death toll continues to climb.

An article in Sunday's New York Times announces that "previously unknown deposits — including huge veins of iron, copper, cobalt, gold and critical industrial metals like lithium — are so big and include so many minerals that are essential to modern industry that Afghanistan could eventually be transformed into one of the most important mining centers in the world, the United States officials believe."

The article cites an "internal Pentagon memo" as saying Afghanistan could become the "Saudi Arabia of lithium" -- the mineral used in the production of rechargeable batteries, such as those found in cell phones and laptops. It cites "a small team of Pentagon officials and American geologists" as having made the discovery.

While the dollar estimate -- $1 trillion -- may be new, it's hardly news that Afghanistan sits on rich mineral deposits. In a 2007 press release, the US Geological Survey announced that Afghanistan possesses "significant amounts of undiscovered non-fuel mineral resources." And, as Marc Ambinder reports on his Atlantic blog, the Soviet Union was aware of Afghanistan's mineral potential as early as 1985.

“The ‘discovery’ of Afghanistan’s minerals will sound pretty silly to old timers,” a "retired former senior US official" tells Politico's Laura Rosen. “When I was living in Kabul in the early 1970’s the [US government], the Russians, the World Bank, the UN and others were all highly focused on the wide range of Afghan mineral deposits. Cheap ways of moving the ore to ocean ports has always been the limiting factor.”
Story continues below...

So why is this news now? To many, the story's timing suggests a Pentagon public relations campaign designed to extend public support for the war with the hope that, in time, Afghanistan may be able to raise itself out of abject poverty.

"Why the story broke in the NYT on Sunday could be linked to a desire by the Pentagon to create a reason why US troops might want to stick around in Afghanistan for some time to come," writes Paul Jay at the Huffington Post. "Things are not going very well on the ground and the promise of vast mineral riches would sound enticing."

Some "veteran Afghan hands detect an echo of [Gen. David] Petraeus’ effort to 'put a little more time on the Washington clock' for the Afghanistan surge, as he once described his public relations strategy to buy time in the US for the Iraq surge," Rosen reports.

Indeed, the US military's need to shore up support for the war effort may be becoming critical. Recent news reports indicate that Afghan President Hamid Karzai may have lost his faith in the US military's ability to carry out the war. And Gareth Porter at IPS reports that US forces are facing "the spectre of a collapse of U.S. political support for the war in Afghanistan in coming months comparable to the one that occurred in the Iraq War in late 2006."

That context leads blogger Steve Hynd to declare that the Times piece is "a conveniently timed zombie story" that was "resurrected yet again for political purposes."

Even if one were to take the Times story at face value, the practical benefits of Afghanistan's mineral deposits are in doubt -- not least because of the country's weak central government, corruption and a lack of skilled labor.

"Under even the rosiest scenarios, it does not appear the new wealth will change dynamics quickly enough in Afghanistan to aid the US military effort there," reports Alan Greenblatt at NPR.

[Daniel] Markey [of the Council on Foreign Relations] says he's nervous that Afghanistan will fall prey to the "resource curse," under which nations that base their economies primarily on natural resources fall prey to conflict and corruption — forces that are already endemic in Afghanistan.

"Afghanistan can make a lot of money from this, but this is the way to make money that attracts corruption," says S. Frederick Starr, chairman of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute at Johns Hopkins University.

"A scramble for Afghanistan's resources would simply intensify the tribal warfare that's already taking place in that devastated country," writes Jacob Heilbrun at the Huffington Post. "The sad truth is that precious natural resources are, more often than not, a curse for the Third World nations that harbor them."
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Offline bigron

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South Asia
Jun 16, 2010
Pentagon strikes it rich

By Jim Lobe

WASHINGTON - The timing of the publication of a major New York Times story on the vast untapped mineral wealth that lies beneath Afghanistan's soil is raising major questions about the intent of the Pentagon, which released the information.

Given the increasingly negative news that has come out of Afghanistan - and of United States strategy there - some analysts believe the front-page article is designed to reverse growing public sentiment that the war is not worth the cost.

"What better way to remind people about the country's potential bright future - and by people I mean the Chinese, the Russians, the Pakistanis and the Americans - than by publicizing or republicizing valid (but already public) information about the region's potential wealth?" wrote Marc AmBinder, the political editor of The Atlantic magazine, on his blog.

"The way in which the story was presented - with on-the-record quotations from the commander-in-chief of CENTCOM [General David Petraeus], no less - and the weird promotion of a deputy assistant secretary of defense to under secretary of defense [Paul Brinkley] suggest a broad and deliberate information operation designed to influence public opinion on the course of the war," he added.

The nearly 1,500-word article [1], based almost entirely on Department of Defense sources and featured as the lead story in Monday's "Early Bird", a compilation of major national security stories that the Pentagon distributes each morning, asserted that Afghanistan may have close to US$1 trillion in untapped mineral deposits. These include "huge veins of iron, copper, cobalt, gold and critical industrial metals like lithium", the story said.

Afghanistan's total annual gross domestic product last year came to about $13 billion. That contrasts with an illegal narcotics export trade estimated to be worth $4 billion a year.

One "internal Pentagon memo" provided to Times author James Risen predicted that Afghanistan could become "the 'Saudi Arabia of lithium', a key raw material in the manufacture of batteries for laptops and Blackberrys".

"There is stunning potential here," Petraeus told Risen in an interview Saturday. "There are a lot of ifs, of course, but I think potentially it is hugely significant," he said of the conclusions of a study by a "small team of Pentagon officials and American geologists".

The government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, whose recent efforts to begin a reconciliation process with the insurgent Taliban have been criticized by the Pentagon, quickly seized on the report. In a hastily arranged press briefing on Monday, Karzai's spokesman, Waheed Omar, said the report was "the best news we have had over many years in Afghanistan".

Other commentators, however, suggested the news about Afghanistan's underground wealth was not all that new. The worth of Afghanistan’s mineral resources are worth $1 trillion, Karzai said in January, according to Bloomberg.

As noted by Blake Hounshell, managing editor at Foreign Policy magazine, the US Geological Service already published a comprehensive inventory of Afghanistan's non-oil mineral resources on the Internet in 2007, as did the British Geological Survey (BGS). Much of their work was based on explorations and surveys undertaken by the Soviet Union during its occupation of Afghanistan during the 1980s.

Stan Coats, former principal geologist at the BGS, who carried out exploration work in Afghanistan for four years, injected a note of caution. "Considerably more work needs to be carried out before it can be properly called an economic deposit that can be extracted at a profit," he told The Independent newspaper. "Much more ground exploration, including drilling, needs to be carried out to prove that these are viable deposits which can be worked."

But, he added, despite the worsening security situation, some regions were safe enough "so there is a lot of scope for further work".

The $1 trillion figure in the New York Times article is based on a simple tabulation of the previous estimates for each mineral according to its current market price, according to Hounshell.

So, the question for many observers was why the article, which dominated much of the foreign news in the network and cable broadcast media during Monday's news cycle, was published now?

The Pentagon memo may have been an effort to attract international interest in the mining sector before the auction in the next few weeks of the 1.8 billion-ton iron-ore field in Hajigak, which could be worth $5 billion to $6 billion, according to the British-based Times. The development of the country's largest known iron deposit has been hampered by the war and weak institutions.

The memo coincided with a visit to India by Wahidullah Shahrani, the new Afghan minister of mines, to solicit bids for Hajigak after a planned tender was canceled last year because of a lack of international interest, the Times reported. Shahrani was appointed with US backing in January after his predecessor was sacked for allegedly taking bribes from a Chinese mining company - a charge he denies.

Afghan and Western officials want more companies to bid for Hajigak and other deposits to prevent China from gaining control over Afghanistan’s natural resources through bids subsidized heavily by Beijing, the Times said. American and European companies have alleged that underhand methods were used by Beijing to get contracts, it said.

China’s state-owned Metallurgical Corp of China won a license in 2007 to develop the Aynak copper field, Afghanistan's richest known deposit of the metal, where mining had been blocked by war in the 1980s, Bloomberg reported. The deposit holds 11 million tons of copper metal, according to a 2008 statement from Jiangxi Copper, a partner in the project, cited by Bloomberg.

The existence of the minerals also raises questions about foreign motives for involvement in the Afghan conflict. Afghans have complained that the West is really after its natural resources, just as many Iraqis contended that the US invasion of their country was about controlling the oil wealth (115 billion barrels of proven reserves, third in the world after Saudi Arabia and Iran).

The New York Times' Risen suggested an answer in his story to the question of the timing of the Pentagon memo, noting "American and Afghan officials agreed to discuss the mineral discoveries at a difficult moment in the war in Afghanistan".

Indeed, US and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) casualties have risen sharply in recent weeks; a four-month-old counter-insurgency offensive to "clear, hold and build" in the strategic region around Marjah in Pashtun-dominated Helmand province appears to have stalled badly; and a planned campaign in and around the critical city of Kandahar has been delayed for at least two months.

The latest polling shows a noticeable erosion of support for Washington's commitment to the war compared to eight months ago, when President Barack Obama agreed to the Pentagon's recommendations to send an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan to bring the total US military presence there to around 100,000 later this summer.

Moreover, what little support for the war remains among the publics of Washington's NATO allies - never as high as in the US in any event - is also fading quickly. NATO and non-NATO countries, excluding the US, currently have about 34,000 troops deployed to Afghanistan.

On the eve of a NATO ministerial conference in Brussels last week, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates warned that Washington and its NATO allies had very little time to convince their publics that their strategy against the Taliban was working - a message that has since been strongly echoed by the coalition's commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, and by Petraeus.

Indeed, the administration is committed to a major review of its strategy in Afghanistan at the end of the year, and Obama has pledged to begin withdrawing US troops in July 2011.

Obama is already coming under pressure from right-wing and neo-conservative media - some of which have been cultivated by Petraeus, in particular - and Republican lawmakers to delay that date.

That view was seconded last week by former Petraeus aide, Lieutenant Colonel John Nagl (retired), a counter-insurgency specialist who is now president of the influential Center for a New American Security.

Nagl worked closely with Petraeus in authoring the much-lauded 2006 US Counter-Insurgency Field Manual, which stressed the importance of efforts to influence media perceptions in any counter-insurgency campaign.

"The media directly influence the attitude of key audiences toward counter-insurgents, their operations and the opposing insurgency," they wrote. "This situation creates a war of perceptions between insurgents and counter-insurgents conducted continuously using the news media."

In that respect, the appearance of the Times story on Monday looked to many observers like part of an effort to strengthen the case for giving the counter-insurgency effort more time.

In an interview with Politico's Laura Rozen on Monday, former Afghan finance minister Ashraf Ghani said he had commissioned the assessment of Afghanistan's mineral wealth. "As to why it came out today ... I cannot explain," he said.

1. U.S. Identifies Vast Mineral Riches in Afghanistan

Jim Lobe's blog on US foreign policy can be read at

(Inter Press Service with editing by Asia Times Online.) 

Offline Dig

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Afghanistan Mineral Deposits Was “Economic Prize” All Along — Brzezinski
Eric Blair
Activist Post
June 15, 2010

News of the “Stunning discovery” of vast minerals in Afghanistan, first reported by James Risen in Sunday’s New York Times article, U.S. Identifies Vast Riches of Minerals in Afghanistan, is rapidly spreading as “good news.”  Well, unfortunately for mainstream media, this is old news and a well-documented motivation for the War in Afghanistan by the global elite.   

Risen reports; “The United States has discovered nearly $1 trillion in untapped mineral deposits in Afghanistan, far beyond any previously known reserves and enough to fundamentally alter the Afghan economy and perhaps the Afghan war itself, according to senior American government officials,” and “The previously unknown deposits — including huge veins of iron, copper, cobalt, gold and critical industrial metals like lithium — are so big and include so many minerals that are essential to modern industry that Afghanistan could eventually be transformed into one of the most important mining centers in the world, the United States officials believe.”

In fact this stunning new discovery has been the target of American hegemony for well over a decade.  Indeed, it may well be the real reason for the sustained War in Afghanistan as outlined in Zbigniew Brzezinski’s 1997 book The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives.

Zbigniew Brzezinski, a presidential advisor, Trilateral Commission founder, Bilderberger, and Council of Foreign Relations figurehead describes the strategic location of the Eurasian Balkans (of which Afghanistan is the heart of) as follows:

“…the Eurasian Balkans are infinitely more important as a potential economic prize: an enormous concentration of natural gas and oil reserves is located in the region, in addition to important minerals, including gold (page 124),” and “America’s global primacy is directly dependent on how long and how effectively its preponderance on the Euraisian continent is sustained…A power that dominates Eurasia would control two of the world’s three most advanced and economically productive regions…most of the world’s physical wealth is there as well, both in its enterprises and underneath its soil (page 30-31).”

The Times article hints at the truth that this discovery was well known prior to the 2001 U.S. invasion, “In 2004, American geologists, sent to Afghanistan as part of a broader reconstruction effort, stumbled across an intriguing series of old charts and data at the library of the Afghan Geological Survey in Kabul that hinted at major mineral deposits in the country. They soon learned that the data had been collected by Soviet mining experts during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s, but cast aside when the Soviets withdrew in 1989.”

The notion that Soviet-connected Brzezinski and other intelligence agencies did not have access to the data at the Afghan Geological Survey prior to the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan is simply preposterous.  Especially given the fact that since at least 2007 China already has been willing to spend big on a plan for Afghan commerce, spearheaded by their investment in Afghan mineral deposits at the Aynak copper mine in Logar province.  American officials now cite this investment as fear that, “resource-hungry China will try to dominate the development of Afghanistan’s mineral wealth, which could upset the United States, given its heavy investment in the region.”  And perhaps this is what it is all about – access. Isn’t war always about money and resource control?

This concern of China competing for these resources was stated long ago by Brzezinski: “China’s growing economic presence in the region and its political stake in the area’s independence are also congruent with America’s interests (page 148).”

Brzezinski also noted that in order for the U.S. to the “manage” the Eurasia continent sufficiently they must, “prevent collusion and maintain security dependence among the vassals, to keep tributaries pliant and protected, and to keep the barbarians from coming together (page 40).”   It is nice to know how the elite really feel about the common citizen standing in their way of resource control.

In fact, years before the September 2000 PNAC report calling for a “Pearl Harbor –Type event” to galvanize the American public to invade these strategic geopolitical and resource-rich areas, Brzezinski referenced the very same method here; “The attitude of the American public toward the external projection of American power has been much more ambivalent. The public supported America’s engagement in World War II largely because of the shock effect of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor (page 24-25).”

Coincidentally, they got their “Pearl Harbor” event on September 11th, 2001 and their subsequent “domination” over the area’s vast mineral resources a month later with the invasion of Afghanistan.

The NYT article is conveniently released when the Obama administration is “hungry for some positive news to come out of Afghanistan.”  The DoD senior executive Pat Lang is quoted “the lives of ordinary Afghans will be profoundly changed perhaps for the better,” as if the pirates of American primacy would allow the “vassals and barbarians” to have a fair piece of the booty.
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Offline nustada

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I believe it will mostly be cover, or pseudonymous for the balance sheets of companies that are going to be managing the poppies.

Offline bigron

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Afghan Bling!

There's gold in them thar hills!

by Justin Raimondo, June 16, 2010

Just as John McCain was telling Gen. David Petraeus how worried he is that the US is going to leave Afghanistan before “the job” is done, the General’s head dropped onto the desk in front of him: had he passed out from ennui? McCain had the same effect on the American electorate in 2008. Petraeus blamed it on not having had breakfast, but, in any case, the US government seems intent on having Afghanistan for lunch – and what a rich meal that is going to be! According to a piece by James Risen in the New York Times, there’s gold in them thar hills!

“The United States has discovered nearly $1 trillion in untapped mineral deposits in Afghanistan, far beyond any previously known reserves and enough to fundamentally alter the Afghan economy and perhaps the Afghan war itself, according to senior American government officials.”

Risen, reporting the views of US officials, goes on to write that the lode is “so big and includes so many minerals that are essential to modern industry that Afghanistan could eventually be transformed into one of the most important mining centers in the world.”

The face of a nearly forgotten figure, Paul Wolfowitz, rises up from the mists of the past, promising that the oil riches of Iraq would ensure no unusual outlays from the US Treasury for postwar reconstruction:

“We’re dealing with a country that could really finance its own reconstruction… The oil revenues of that country [Iraq] could bring between 50 and 100 billion dollars over the course of the next two or three years. Now, there are a lot of claims on that money, but that’s – we’re not dealing with Afghanistan that’s a permanent ward of the international community. We are dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction and relatively soon.”

As Sarah Palin would put it: and how’s that Iraq-will-pay-for-itself idea workin’ out for ya?

Eight years later, we are dealing with Afghanistan, “a permanent ward of the international community,” i.e. a US colony, but Wolfie’s words have gone down the Memory Hole conveniently located near every neocon’s work station.

Afghanistan, says an internal Pentagon memo, could become “the Saudi Arabia of lithium” – a prospect that, if the Saudi kleptocracy is replicated on Afghan terrain, bodes ill for the people of that country. Given the truth of this alleged discovery – one that is by no means a new one, by the way – such an outcome certainly seems all too likely. A look [.pdf]
at Afghanistan’s mining laws – coincidentally just recently formulated and passed – confirms this suspicion:

“Article 4: Ownership of Minerals

“(1) All naturally occurring Minerals and all Artificial Deposits of Minerals on surface or subsurface of the territory of Afghanistan or in its water courses (rivers and streams) are the exclusive property of the State.

“(2) Mineral operations shall be conducted in Afghanistan by the State. A Person can also carry out mining operations by obtaining a License or Authorization in accordance with the provisions of this Law.”

This is a perfect set-up for corruption. Licenses are granted by the Afghan Ministry of Mines, formerly headed up by Muhammad Ibrahim Adel, who was dumped by the Karzai regime after being accused by the US of accepting a $30 million bribe from the Chinese for a copper mining franchise. His crime, of course, was that he accepted a bribe from the wrong people: his successor won’t make the same mistake.

A crude analysis of the above-cited mining laws would characterize them as “socialist,” but this really qualifies as corporatism: government for the benefit of certain politically-connected corporations, i.e. the same sort of crony capitalism that currently characterizes the US economy. We’re exporting our system around the world.

Everything about the Risen piece screams government disinformation campaign. To take one example: Risen avers that this “vast” mineral wealth was just recently discovered “by a small team of Pentagon officials and American geologists.” As Marc Ambinder points out, however, the Soviets beat the Obama-ites to the punch by a couple of decades.

The Soviets – who were themselves on the way out, although they didn’t know it – were convinced that by “building socialism” in Afghanistan, i.e. a strong centralized state, they could exploit the country’s rich natural resources for their own benefit. In the end the costs proved too great, and the terminal crisis of the Soviet system doomed the Kremlin’s puppet government to a swift demise.

Like the Soviets, the Americans live in an ideologically constructed alternate universe – one already colliding with the reality on the ground – which doesn’t permit them to see the many reasons for their inevitable failure. The Obama-ites think that by dangling some fool’s gold in front of the American public that they can forestall growing discontent with the longest war in our history. This is what they think of us: that we’re just a bunch of greedy pigs eager to grab what we can from whomever we can. That just about sums up the guiding philosophy of the current regime.

Citing Jack Synder’s Myths of Empire, Stephen Walt, writing on his Foreign Policy blog, debunks what he calls the “el Dorado myth,” making the perfectly reasonable point that we don’t need to control territories rich in natural resources in order to make economic use of them, engage in trade, and otherwise partner with the Afghans to mutual profit:

“Because whoever is in charge is going to have to sell them to someone and won’t be able to prevent them from being sold to us (even if indirectly) if we want to buy (that’s how markets work). And if we want to make sure that U.S. companies have the opportunity to compete for the opportunity to mine these resources some day, it might be a good idea if we didn’t spend the next decade blundering around and angering the local population.”

Yes, but it matters who’s in charge. If it’s the US, acting through its Afghan sock puppet, then franchises are going to be doled out to friends of the regime. There is no market economy in an occupied country: the conqueror extracts the spoils of war, in this case from the very soil of Afghanistan, not as result of any free contract, but due to its preeminent position as the occupier. There is always a lot of window dressing to prettify this ugly reality, but in the Afghan case it doesn’t even look like the occupiers care much about appearances. As Ambinder points out, the bidding war started in 2009.

Our rulers don’t at all mind “blundering around and angering the local population,” just as long as they and their cronies reap rich rewards, however short-lived and costly their acquisition. Furthermore, they don’t want just any old companies competing for the opportunity to mine those resources some day. Not everyone is invited to the feast. The US/NATO occupiers are in a perfect position to say “I’m sorry, sir, but those tables are reserved.”

This dangling of bling is not only for the benefit of the American people, but also for the Europeans, who haven’t been all that enthusiastic [.pdf] about doing their duty on the Afghan front, at least up until now. The Obama-ites are seeking to entice them with the prospect of mineral riches down the road, but this promise is bound to be met with a high degree of skepticism. After all, Afghanistan lacks the infrastructure to bring its mineral wealth to market, quite aside from the difficulties of extracting it to begin with. If the Obama administration believes they can use the vague promise of future riches to lure the Europeans into America’s latest nation-building project, they are very wrong. Aside from overwhelming opposition to the war by European voters, Obama’s Euro-socialist friendsters are having their own problems over there – what with Greece, Spain, Portugal, Italy, and Ireland going down the economic sinkhole – with not a lot of resources to spare.

The idea that Afghanistan is going to finance its own reconstruction on account of its mineral wealth, or that the US can derive some economic benefit from pillaging those resources, is a dangerous mix of economic ignorance and brazen militarism. In short, this is a rationale for war that fits the current gang in Washington to a tee.

Offline bigron

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Pentagon report in April never mentioned $1 trillion in Afghan wealth

By Muriel Kane
Wednesday, June 16th, 2010 -- 10:37 am

Original goal of Pentagon task force that performed Afghan minerals survey was to get "contracts going between US firms and Iraqi firms"

A RAW STORY investigation has revealed that a report released by the Pentagon last April on the progress of the Afghanistan "surge" included only a single passing reference to a survey that is now being touted as having discovered mineral resources in that nation potentially worth $1 trillion.

The lack of any mention of dramatic new discoveries is likely to reinforce suspicions that there is something bogus about the claim in last Sunday's New York Times that "the United States has discovered nearly $1 trillion in untapped mineral deposits in Afghanistan, far beyond any previously known reserves and enough to fundamentally alter the Afghan economy and perhaps the Afghan war itself."

The only reference to minerals in April's 152-page Pentagon report occurs in a section of just two paragraphs devoted to the Task Force for Business and Stability Operations (TFBSO), whose survey last fall supposedly revealed the newly-found resources.

"During a 12-week assessment," the report states, "over 50 members of TFBSO teams conducted more than 60 individual site visits throughout Afghanistan, assessing many critical sectors of the Afghan economy. Four strategic observations were made during the 12-week assessment: Lack of economic sovereignty, lack of emphasis on rural agriculture, lack of economic benefit from international development, and lack of intra-Afghan commerce."

"Afghanistan must develop self-sustaining, indigenous revenue sources," the report continues. "Mining was specifically identified as a key area for economic development by the TFBSO because of its potential to attract foreign investment and generate significant government revenue. The group noted that accelerating this development will create an indigenous revenue stream for Afghanistan, and ultimately economic sovereignty."

The relatively modest reference in the report to the possibility of "significant government revenue" contrasts strongly with the current hype over the TFBSO's findings. For example, one ABC News story -- which includes a photograph of a TFBSO geologist participating in last year's assessment -- is headlined "U.S. Geologists Discover $1 Trillion in Mineral Deposits in Afghanistan" and subheaded, "Even President Karzai Has Difficulty Imaging Afghanistan Potential Wealth."

The story of new-found wealth has already aroused widespread skepticism, especially since a detailed US Geological Survey report on Afghanistan's mineral resources was published as recently as 2007. Wired, for example, suggests that "the timing of the 'discovery' seems just a little too convenient. As Blake Hounshell at Foreign Policy notes, the Obama administration is struggling to combat the perception that the Afghan campaign has 'made little discernible progress,' despite thousands of additional troops and billions of extra dollars."

What may be an even more acute observation, however, was offered by Jim Lobe at Asia Times. "The Pentagon memo may have been an effort to attract international interest in the mining sector before the auction in the next few weeks of the 1.8 billion-ton iron-ore field in Hajigak, which could be worth $5 billion to $6 billion," Lobe writes. "Afghan and Western officials want more companies to bid for Hajigak and other deposits to prevent China from gaining control over Afghanistan’s natural resources through bids subsidized heavily by Beijing."

It is also possible that both theories are correct, since the Pentagon's Task Force for Business and Stability Operations has been devoted since its creation in 2006 to the dual mission of promoting local economic development to counter insurgencies while simultaneously furthering American business interests.

In December 2006, the Washington Post quoted one US official as saying of the newly-formed task force, "It's about stimulating interest and getting contracts going between US firms and Iraqi firms. That's the goal. The solution in Iraq is not primarily a military one. It is primarily an economic and political solution."

"As Iraq descends further into violence and disarray, the Pentagon is turning to a weapon some believe should have been used years ago: jobs," the Post explained. "Economic development is a departure from the military's usual missions, but officials think the Defense Department's heft as a consumer of goods and services can boost the effort. The department has been reaching out to U.S. companies that can place large orders for products from Iraq. Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England set the task force in motion in June after Paul A. Brinkley, deputy undersecretary of defense, returned from a visit to Iraq the month before."

TFBSO's mission of drawing on the free enterprise system as a component of counter-insurgency policy might seem like a quintessential Bush administration approach, but the Obama administration has embraced it just as enthusiastically. In March 2009, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates issued a memorandum continuing the Task Force and stating that its purpose was "to aid the Department's on-going military operations and to fully leverage economic development as a strategic and operational tool."

TFBSO continues to be headed by its founder, Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Business Transformation Paul A. Brinkley, but a couple of young Obama campaign workers have been added to its leadership roster. The current deputy director is Jacquelyn Rebekka Bonner, a former Goldman Sachs vice president who worked without pay for the Obama campaign for seven months. Rudi Shenk, formerly the Obama campaign's national outreach director, is now TFBSO's manager of indigenous industries.

In April 2009, the German paper Der Spiegel commented on Gates extension of the TFBSO, describing it as "a part-military, part-civilian body whose value was difficult to define, an experiment that took place, not coincidentally, during the rise of General David Petraeus."

"Brinkley and Petraeus know each other, and one can assume that they get along well," the article continued. "It is rumored that the general made sure that Brinkley's group would survive the transition in Washington from Bush to current President Barack Obama. Petraeus needs Brinkley, and not just in Iraq. It doesn't take much to imagine similar task forces in Afghanistan or crisis regions in Africa, in fact, in all asymmetrical conflicts."

That extension of TFBSO's mission to Afghanistan -- and beyond -- is already under way. The website of a private contractor, Defense Group, Inc., boasts that "DGI is supporting the OSD Task Force for Business Stability Operations (TFBSO) in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and DGI personnel previously supported the TFBSO in Iraq. ... As U.S. policy toward Africa continues to evolve, as marked by the raising of the new US Africa Command (USAFRICOM), DGI will expand its reach into selected countries on the African continent, where its experience is both broad and deep."

Additional research was provided by Ron Brynaert.

Offline Shorty123

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Yes, they have known for years, there was even a story on their wealth in the mountains a couple of years ago. This "discovery" is not newly discovered news...
I am nothing without Him. For He is my Savior and my light.
He brings me to a land of promise and flourishes my generations. He keeps me from harm and wakes my sleeping eyes.

Offline Overcast

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Yeah, we had an 'editorial' in our local paper - get this...

From "Amity Shlaes" - who just so happens to be a member of .... Council on Foreign Relations.


But in case you're curious as to what propaganda they are spewing..

Some hope for Afghans

Now those tribes really have something to fight over. In case you haven't heard the mind-blowing news, impoverished Afghanistan has increased its potential net worth by a factor of 83 overnight.

Afghan mining experts may view the discovery of $1 trillion in natural resources as a new "backbone" for their economy, as one labeled it. But Afghanistan already fights over resources such as poppy plants.

The new bounty might escalate the already troubling conflict there into a global conflagration involving every meaningful power. It isn't hard to imagine Afghanistan's tribes, the Taliban and, say, U.S. oil companies, President Vladimir Putin and the cash-rich Chinese all jumping in.

Link for More if you are curious, this doesn't deserve a wall of text.
And dying in your beds, many years from now, would you be willin' to trade ALL the days, from this day to that, for one chance, just one chance, to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they'll never take... OUR FREEDOM!

Offline Dig

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Yes, they have known for years, there was even a story on their wealth in the mountains a couple of years ago. This "discovery" is not newly discovered news...

But, Obama and all the neocons kept saying "Al-Qaeda is in the mountain regions between afghanistan and pakistan"

they were planning on turning the whole place into a Rockefeller industrial mining territory.

BTW, the afghanis are saying "$1 Trillion is a joke, there are over $3 trillion in precious materials"
All eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man. The general spread of the light of science has already laid open to every view the palpable truth, that the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately

Offline bigron

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"The War is Worth Waging":

Afghanistan's Vast Reserves of Minerals and Natural Gas

The War on Afghanistan is a Profit driven "Resource War".

By Michel Chossudovsky
Global Research, June 17, 2010

The 2001 bombing and invasion of Afghanistan has been presented to World public opinion as a "Just War", a war directed against the Taliban and Al Qaeda, a war to eliminate "Islamic terrorism" and instate Western style democracy.

The economic dimensions of  the "Global War on Terrorism" (GWOT) are rarely mentioned. The post 9/11 "counter-terrorism campaign" has served to obfuscate the real objectives of the US-NATO war.

The war on Afghanistan is part of a profit driven agenda: a war of economic conquest and plunder,  "a resource war".

While Afghanistan is acknowledged as a strategic hub in Central Asia, bordering on the former Soviet Union, China and Iran, at the crossroads of pipeline routes and major oil and gas reserves, its huge mineral wealth as well as its untapped natural gas reserves have remained, until June 2010, totally unknown to the American public.

According to a joint report by the Pentagon, the US Geological Survey (USGS) and USAID, Afghanistan is now said to possess "previously unknown" and untapped mineral reserves, estimated authoritatively to be of the order of one trillion dollars (New York Times, U.S. Identifies Vast Mineral Riches in Afghanistan -, June 14, 2010, See also BBC, 14 June 2010).

"The previously unknown deposits — including huge veins of iron, copper, cobalt, gold and critical industrial metals like lithium — are so big and include so many minerals that are essential to modern industry that Afghanistan could eventually be transformed into one of the most important mining centers in the world, the United States officials believe.

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.

The vast scale of Afghanistan’s mineral wealth was discovered by a small team of Pentagon officials and American geologists. The Afghan government and President Hamid Karzai were recently briefed, American officials said.

While it could take many years to develop a mining industry, the potential is so great that officials and executives in the industry believe it could attract heavy investment even before mines are profitable, providing the possibility of jobs that could distract from generations of war.

“There is stunning potential here,” Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of the United States Central Command, said... “There are a lot of ifs, of course, but I think potentially it is hugely significant.”

 The value of the newly discovered mineral deposits dwarfs the size of Afghanistan’s existing war-bedraggled economy, which is based largely on opium production and narcotics trafficking as well as aid from the United States and other industrialized countries. Afghanistan’s gross domestic product is only about $12 billion.

“This will become the backbone of the Afghan economy,” said Jalil Jumriany, an adviser to the Afghan minister of mines. (New York Times, op. cit.)

Afghanistan could become, according to The New York Times "the Saudi Arabia of lithium". "Lithium is an increasingly vital resource, used in batteries for everything from mobile phones to laptops and key to the future of the electric car." At present Chile, Australia, China and Argentina are the main suppliers of lithium to the world market. Bolivia and Chile are the countries with the largest known reserves of lithium. "The Pentagon has been conducting ground surveys in western Afghanistan. "Pentagon officials said that their initial analysis at one location in Ghazni province showed the potential for lithium deposits as large as those of Bolivia" (U.S. Identifies Vast Mineral Riches in Afghanistan -, June 14, 2010, see also Lithium - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia) 

"Previously Unknown Deposits" of Minerals in Afghanistan 

The Pentagon's near one trillion dollar "estimate" of previously "unknown deposits" is a useful smokescreen. The Pentagon one trillion dollar figure is more a trumped up number rather than an estimate:  “We took a look at what we knew to be there, and asked what would it be worth now in terms of today’s dollars. The trillion dollar figure seemed to be newsworthy.” (The Sunday Times, London, June 15 2010, emphasis added)

Moreover, the results of a US Geological Survey study (quoted in the Pentagon memo) on Afghanistan's mineral wealth were revealed three years back, at a 2007 Conference organized by the Afghan-American Chamber of Commerce. The matter of Afghanistan's mineral riches, however, was not considered newsworthy at the time.

The US Administration's acknowledgment that it first took cognizance of Afghanistan's vast mineral wealth  following the release of the USGS 2007 report is an obvious red herring. Afghanistan's mineral wealth and energy resources (including natural gas) were known to both America's business elites and the US government prior to the Soviet-Afghan war (1979-1988).

Geological surveys conducted by the Soviet Union in the 1970s and early 1980s confirm the existence of  vast reserves of copper (among the largest in Eurasia), iron, high grade chrome ore, uranium, beryl, barite, lead, zinc, fluorspar, bauxite, lithium, tantalum, emeralds, gold and silver.(Afghanistan, Mining Annual Review, The Mining Journal,  June, 1984). These surveys suggest that the actual value of these reserves could indeed be substantially larger than the one trillion dollars "estimate" intimated by the Pentagon-USCG-USAID study. 

More recently, in a 2002 report, the Kremlin confirmed what was already known: "It's no secret that Afghanistan possesses rich reserves, in particular of copper at the Aynak deposit, iron ore in Khojagek, uranium, polymetalic ore, oil and gas," (RIA Novosti, January 6, 2002): 

"Afghanistan has never been anyone's colony - no foreigner had ever "dug" here before the 1950s. The Hindu Kush mountains, stretching, together with their foothills, over a vast area in Afghanistan, are where the minerals lie. Over the past 40 years, several dozen deposits have been discovered in Afghanistan, and most of these discoveries were sensational. They were kept secret, however, but even so certain facts have recently become known.

It turns out that Afghanistan possesses reserves of nonferrous and ferrous metals and precious stones, and, if exploited, they would possibly be able to cover even the earnings from the drug industry. The copper deposit in Aynak in the southern Afghan Helmand Province is said to be the largest in the Eurasian continent, and its location (40 km from Kabul) makes it cheap to develop. The iron ore deposit at Hajigak in the central Bamian Province yields ore of an extraordinarily high quality, the reserves of which are estimated to be 500m tonnes. A coal deposit has also been discovered not far from there.

Afghanistan is spoken of as a transit country for oil and gas. However, only a very few people know that Soviet specialists discovered huge gas reserves there in the 1960s and built the first gas pipeline in the country to supply gas to Uzbekistan. At that time, the Soviet Union used to receive 2.5 bn cubic metres of Afghan gas annually. During the same period, large deposits of gold, fluorite, barytes and marble onyxes that have a very rare pattern were found.

However, the pegmatite fields discovered to the east of Kabul are a real sensation. Rubies, beryllium, emeralds and kunzites and hiddenites that cannot be found anywhere else - the deposits of these precious stones stretch for hundreds of kilometres. Also, the rocks containing the rare metals beryllium, thorium, lithium and tantalum are of strategic importance (they are used in air and spacecraft construction).
The war is worth waging. ... (Olga Borisova, "Afghanistan - the Emerald Country", Karavan, Almaty, original Russian, translated by BBC News Services, Apr 26, 2002. p. 10, emphasis added.)

While public opinion was fed images of a war torn resourceless developing country, the realities are otherwise: Afghanstan is a rich country as confirmed by Soviet era geological surveys.

The issue of "previously unknown deposits" sustains a falsehood. It excludes Afghanstan's vast mineral wealth as a justifiable casus belli. It says that the Pentagon only recently became aware that Afghanistan was among the World's most wealthy mineral economies, comparable to The Democratic Republic of the Congo or former Zaire of the Mobutu era. The Soviet geopolitical reports were known. During the Cold War, all this information was known in minute detail: 

... Extensive Soviet exploration produced superb geological maps and reports that listed more than 1,400 mineral outcroppings, along with about 70 commercially viable deposits ... The Soviet Union subsequently committed more than $650 million for resource exploration and development in Afghanistan, with proposed projects including an oil refinery capable of producing a half-million tons per annum, as well as a smelting complex for the Ainak deposit that was to have produced 1.5 million tons of copper per year. In the wake of the Soviet withdrawal a subsequent World Bank analysis projected that the Ainak copper production alone could eventually capture as much as 2 percent of the annual world market. The country is also blessed with massive coal deposits, one of which, the Hajigak iron deposit, in the Hindu Kush mountain range west of Kabul, is assessed as one of the largest high-grade deposits in the world. (John C. K. Daly,  Analysis: Afghanistan's untapped energy, UPI Energy, October 24, 2008, emphasis added)

Afghanistan's Natural Gas

Afghanistan is a land bridge. The 2001 U.S. led invasion and occupation of Afghanistan has been analysed by critics of US foreign policy as a means to securing control  over the strategic trans-Afghan transport corridor which links the Caspian sea basin to the Arabian sea.

Several trans-Afghan oil and gas pipeline projects have been contemplated including the planned $8.0 billion TAPI pipeline project (Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India) of 1900 km., which would transport Turkmen natural gas across Afghanistan in what is described as a "crucial transit corridor". (See Gary Olson, Afghanistan has never been the 'good and necessary' war; it's about control of oil, The Morning Call, October 1, 2009). Military escalation under the extended Af-Pak war bears a relationship to TAPI. Turkmenistan possesses third largest natural gas reserves after Russia and Iran. Strategic control over the transport routes out of Turkmenistan have been part of Washington's agenda since the collapse of the Soviet union in 1991.

What was rarely contemplated in pipeline geopolitics, however, is that Afghanistan is not only adjacent to countries which are rich in oil and natural gas (e.g Turkmenistan), it also possesses within its territory sizeable untapped reserves of natural gas, coal  and oil. Soviet estimates of the 1970s placed "Afghanistan's 'explored' (proved plus probable) gas reserves at about 5  trillion cubic feet. The Hodja-Gugerdag's initial reserves were placed at slightly more than 2 tcf." (See, The Soviet Union to retain influence in Afghanistan, Oil & Gas Journal, May 2, 1988).

The US.Energy Information Administration (EIA) acknowledged in 2008 that Afghanistan's natural gas reserves are "substantial":

"As northern Afghanistan is a 'southward extension of Central Asia's highly prolific, natural gas-prone Amu Darya Basin,' Afghanistan 'has proven, probable and possible natural gas reserves of about 5 trillion cubic feet.' (UPI, John C.K. Daly, Analysis: Afghanistan's untapped energy, October 24, 2008)

From the outset of the Soviet-Afghan war in 1979, Washington's objective has been to sustain a geopolitical foothold in Central Asia.

The Golden Crescent Drug Trade

America's covert war, namely its support to the Mujahideen "Freedom fighters" (aka Al Qaeda) was also geared towards the development of the Golden Crescent trade in opiates, which was used by US intelligence to fund the insurgency directed against the Soviets.1

Instated at the outset of the Soviet-Afghan war and protected by the CIA, the drug trade developed over the years into a highly lucrative multibillion undertaking. It was the cornerstone of America's covert war in the 1980s. Today, under US-NATO military occupation, the drug trade generates cash earnings in Western markets in excess of $200 billion dollars a year. (See Michel Chossudovsky, America's War on Terrorism, Global Research, Montreal, 2005, see also Michel Chossudovsky, Heroin is "Good for Your Health": Occupation Forces support Afghan Narcotics Trade, Global Research, April 29, 2007)

Towards an Economy of Plunder

The US media, in chorus, has upheld the "recent discovery" of Afghanistan's mineral wealth as "a solution" to the development of the country's war torn economy as well as a means to eliminating poverty. The 2001 US-NATO invasion and occupation has set the stage for their appropriation by Western mining and energy conglomerates. 

The war on Afghanistan is  a profit driven "resource war".

Under US and allied occupation, this mineral wealth is slated to be plundered, once the country has been pacified, by a handful of multinational mining conglomerates. According to Olga Borisova, writing in the months following the October 2001 invasion, the US-led "war on terrorism [will be transformed] into a colonial policy of influencing a fabulously wealthy country." (Borisova, op cit).

Part of the US-NATO agenda is also to eventually take possession of Afghanistan's reserves of natural gas, as well as prevent the development of competing Russian, Iranian and Chinese energy interests in Afghanistan.   


1. The Golden Crescent trade in opiates constitutes, at present, the centerpiece of Afghanistan's export economy. The heroin trade, instated at the outset of the Soviet-Afghan war in 1979 and protected by the CIA, generates cash earnings in Western markets in excess of $200 billion dollars a year. Since the 2001 invasion, narcotics production in Afghanistan  has increased more than 35 times. In 2009, opium production stood at 6900 tons, compared to less than 200 tons in 2001. In this regard, the multibillion dollar earnings resulting from the Afghan opium production largely occur outside Afghanistan. According to United Nations data, the revenues of the drug trade accruing to the local economy are of the order of 2-3 billion annually. In contrast with the Worldwide sales of heroin resultring from the trade in Afghan opiates, in excess of $200 billion. (See Michel Chossudovsky, America's War on Terrorism", Global Research, Montreal, 2005)


Offline bigron

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Sorry, Trillions in Unmined Mineral Wealth
Is Not a Reason to Keep Occupying Afghanistan

Our leaders are now boldly selling wars as commendable instruments of such profit-focused imperialism.

By David Sirota, AlterNet
Posted on June 19, 2010, Printed on June 19, 2010

Reading this week's New York Times headline – "U.S. Identifies Vast Riches of Minerals in Afghanistan" – many probably wondered how this information was being presented as "news" in 2010. After all, humanity has long been aware of the country's vast natural resources. As Mother Jones magazine's James Ridgeway said after recalling past public accounts of the ore deposits, "This 'discovery' in fact is ancient history tracing back to the times of Marco Polo."

The intrigue in The Times dispatch, then, is not Afghanistan's "huge veins of iron, copper, cobalt, gold and critical industrial metals" that the paper quotes Pentagon officials gushing about – it is the gushing itself. Indeed, the real question is: What would prompt the government to portray well-known geology as some sort of blockbuster revelation?

The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder proffers a convincing answer. Noting the military's coordinated quotes in The Times piece, he writes that the Pentagon is probably trying to bolster Americans' support for the flagging Afghanistan campaign by "publicizing or re-publicizing valid but already public information about the region's potential wealth."

This assertion, mind you, is not coming from some antiwar ideologue in a "No War for Oil!" t-shirt. On the contrary, Ambinder is a quintessential buttoned-down establishmentarian far more interested in covering political process than in pushing a pet cause – which means his charge (later echoed by other Washington journalists) is a particularly powerful one. And if he's correct, we may be witnessing the final spasm of a radical shift.

Remember, the idea that the U.S. invades countries to pilfer natural resources was once written off as an inflammatory insult and/or an unsubstantiated conspiracy theory, irrespective of corroborating facts (like, say, pre-9/11 Pentagon plans to divvy up Iraqi petroleum, State Department proposals to privatize Iraq's oil fields and top government officials insisting Saddam Hussein's overthrow was "essential" to protect oil supplies). The assumption, of course, was that the public opposes resource conflicts and that therefore labeling wars as such is nothing but disreputable slander designed only to harm a political opponent.

This manufactured construct, though, began eroding as soon as George W. Bush started turning the "war for oil" aspersion into a proud clarion call.

In 2005, the Associated Press reported that the president "answered growing antiwar protests with a fresh reason for U.S. troops to continue fighting in Iraq: protection of the country's vast oil fields." During a press conference a year later, Bush three times pitched petroleum as a rationale for war, criticizing "extreme elements" who "want to control oil resources," insisting that "we can't tolerate a new terrorist state in the heart of the Middle East with large oil reserves" and warning that we must stop insurgents from gaining "the capacity to use oil as an economic weapon."

Now, under President Obama, we get leaked Pentagon memos cheerily promising that Afghanistan will become "the Saudi Arabia of lithium" and generals touting the minerals' "stunning potential" – the implication being that America is morally obligated to exploit such potential through armed occupation.

The theater of battle is different but the paradigm is the same: Whereas it was previously considered uncouth for anyone to even suggest that economic hegemony might motivate U.S. military action, our leaders are now boldly selling wars as commendable instruments of such profit-focused imperialism.

Importantly, this revised message relies on the new assumption that the public now sees resource conflicts not as detestable – but as worthy and even admirable. And should that assumption prove true, it would mean that this latest exercise in martial propaganda represents more than mere marketing innovation. It would signal a disturbing change in what the population thinks is – and is not – a just reason for war.

David Sirota is the author of the best-selling books Hostile Takeover and The Uprising. He hosts the morning show on AM760 in Colorado and blogs at E-mail him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @davidsirota.

© 2010 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
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Offline Dig

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we already spent trillions, the spoils go to pharaohs anyway while the slaves get more debt slavery
All eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man. The general spread of the light of science has already laid open to every view the palpable truth, that the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately

Offline bigron

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Why Lithium Can't Save Afghanistan

By Michael Reilly | Tue Jun 15, 2010 11:53 PM ET

 Following the news Monday that geologists have found a mother lode of minerals in Afghanistan -- reports argued deposits of iron, copper, gold and other goodies could collectively be worth close to $1 trillion -- it's worth asking a few extra questions.

In particular, there's been an unusually strong focus on the lithium portion of the find. A key ingredient in high-tech batteries for laptops, smart phones, electric cars and the like, its been heralded as the future cornerstone of the world's energy infrastructure.

But is lithium really going to save Afghanistan, as many media outlets seem to think? Nope, not even close.

In the words of Brian Jaskula, a lithium commodity expert with the United States Geological Survey, "We'll be extracting lithium from the ocean before we'll be extracting it from Afghanistan."

(Jaskula was not involved with the Afghanistan work.)

Extracting lithium from the ocean is a real thing, but it's expensive. Instead, most lithium we use starts off dissolved in super-salty water underneath several feet of hard salt pan in Chile's Salar de Atacama, one of the largest lithium producing regions on the planet. Argentina and Australia are also big producers of lithium.

Drilling for brines and then evaporating them in the arid desert air is the cheapest way to get the element, and it's by far the most common. After that comes mining lithium-bearing minerals right out of granites. Until recently, sucking the element out of seawater, where it occurs in concentrations of just a few parts per million, was purely theoretical. But forecasts calling for steadily increasing prices have led South Korean interests to start building a factory to do just that.

According to Jaskula, South Korea's decision is more than just a gamble on the market. "They want a steady supply of lithium, and they don't want to have to rely on hostile countries for their supply, even if they have to pay a little more to get it," he said.

Of course, no one anticipated the Pentagon's recent announcement about Afghanistan; Jaskula was referring to Bolivia, whose Salar de Uyuni region contains vast stores of lithium. But the country has very little infrastructure for setting up a mining operation, not to mention a history of political unrest.

"And Afghanistan is a century behind Bolivia," in terms of infrastructure, Jaskula said.

Then there's the whole business of calling Afghanistan the "Saudi Arabia of lithium." Turns out that's not right either, for a number of reasons.

In fairness to all parties (including the AFP article Discovery News ran), that oft-repeated statement came from an internal Pentagon memo. But beyond that, the only credible mention of the lithium question came during a Q&A at a Department of Defense press briefing on Monday (portion of the transcript follows):

Q     Hi there.  It's Mike Mount from CNN.  We've seen that Afghanistan has been called the Saudi Arabia of lithium.  Can you tell us -- and the slides that we saw didn't actually list lithium in there, but can you tell us about how much is there and the estimated cost on that and, I guess, the time when you think Afghanistan might start being able to tap into that resource?

MR. BRINKLEY (Paul A. Brinkley, deputy undersecretary of defense for business):  Jack, I'll take a stab and then I'll ask your -- to comment. 

Lithium isn't in the table, because at the time -- the table represents things that are fairly known or good estimates exist.  The surveys of the potential lithium sites in the country are under way and are highly positive, very indicative of potential industrial-scale lithium deposits.  But they're not ready to measure in terms of cost value yet, which is why they're not included in that table.

Jack, you want to add color to that?

MR. MEDLIN (Jack Medlin, United States Geological Survey):  Well, I -- the only thing I would add is that there is an ongoing, continuing effort to basically visit the basically dry lake beds and to collect samples from those and to basically get those samples analyzed to determine basically the lithium or potential lithium in those dry lake beds.

So it's -- at this point in time, there is -- there has been no assessment of the lithium resource, but we know that, basically, lithium does occur in a number of those old dry lake beds. (emphasis added)

To recap, we have one Department of Defense official waving his arms and saying "the surveys are highly positive! Yay lithium!" and one scientist saying, "hold on there, hoss -- we have no idea how much lithium there is out there."

Even if the country does turn out to have vast stores of lithium, it will be almost certainly useless. There will never be a "Saudi Arabia of lithium" anywhere, according to Jaskula.

For one thing, the term "lithium batteries" is somewhat misleading. Lithium is a crucial ingredient, but it makes up just a tiny fraction -- maybe 2-3 percent -- of the weight and cost of the batteries. For another, lithium prices nosedived in 2009, and are expected to drop again this year (PDF; lithium currently goes for about $5,000 per ton). Why? Mostly because of the economic downturn, producers have piles of lithium they can't get rid of.

Even if demand recovers, electric cars take off, and all of our wildest dreams about lithium-based battery technology come true, Jaskula said current suppliers would have no trouble meeting our needs through the next ten years.

What's more, the lithium in batteries is recyclable. It's just not profitable to do it now. Common wisdom among industry experts is that as prices rise, recycling programs will blossom. By 2030, the need for virgin lithium will cease to exist, replaced by a self-sustaining lithium loop.

Hopefully all of the misguided speculation surrounding lithium and Afghanistan in the media won't impact the country, its government, or the American-led war effort.

There's reason to be hopeful -- in their analysis, Pentagon officials and USGS scientists fortunately did not include the element when they valued the country's mineral wealth at $908 billion (iron, copper, niobium cobalt, and gold round out the top five, and account for $850 billion of the total figure).

In the end, Afghanistan may still be able to mine its way out of the mess they're in. But it'll have to be done without lithium.

Image: Department of Defense

Offline Dig

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New York Times Planted Story on Afghan Mineral Wealth Designed to Prolong US Occupation, Spur Neocon-Backed Petraeus Presidential Candidacy
Webster G. Tarpley
June 20, 2010

To provide a new and spurious economic looting argument for making the US occupation of Afghanistan virtually endless, and to advance the candidacy of General David Petraeus as the principal neocon warmonger candidate for president on the Republican ticket in 2012 – these are the purposes of the story planted in the June 13, 2010 New York Times under the byline of James Risen, who is acting as stenographer for the neocons in the great tradition of his predecessor Judith Miller. In retrospect, this article may well be seen as the opening gun of an overt push to place General Petraeus in the White House in 2012 as the new Field Marshal von Hindenburg.

According to this story, a Pentagon survey has determined that Afghanistan possesses at least $1 trillion worth of valuable minerals, including iron, copper, cobalt, gold, and lithium – with lithium being especially valuable because it is used in batteries for computers and for the new designs of electric automobiles. Of course, none of this is news, as the article itself concedes. The surveys done by the US occupation authorities over the last several years are explicitly based on careful studies done by the Soviets during their own occupation of Afghanistan during the 1980s. The basic outlines of what is being presented by Risen as front-page news were already published in a May 2004 World Bank report, which was used to dictate minerals legislation to the Afghan government. More recently, Afghan mineral wealth has been hyped by the Afghan embassy in Washington on various occasions, and was a featured theme of the visit here last month by Afghan President Karzai.

Candidate Petraeus Touts “Stunning Potential”

This planted puff piece is based on anonymous “senior US government officials.” The only exception is General David Petraeus, the warlord of the US Central Command, the theater of operations in which Afghanistan is located. Petraeus is directly cited as saying that the Afghan mineral riches whose presence the US has confirmed represent a “stunning potential” for the future development of the country. The implied message from Petraeus to the Washington elite is, to paraphrase, support me and cash in on the riches of Afghanistan, or else wimpy Obama’s self-serving pullout timetable will allow the Chinese to move in.

The repackaging and rehashing of the Afghan mineral story at this time represents a bid to mobilize political support by Wall Street, major minerals corporations, and other predatory interests to keep the US occupation of Afghanistan going far beyond the July 2011 date set by Obama for the beginning of a gradual pullout of US forces. The article makes clear that, if the US should depart from Afghanistan, the immense mineral wealth will fall easy prey to China. China, it is noted, has already taken over a copper mine in Afghanistan. In March of this year, it was a sudden alarm in Washington that Karzai’s Afghanistan was slipping into the Chinese orbit that motivated Obama’s hasty visit to Kabul. The implication is that, whether or not these minerals can actually be developed by the United States, it is imperative to stay in Afghanistan to make sure that they are denied to the Chinese.

The planted story is also designed to counter the growing war fatigue and defeatism among the US-led coalition, which is building up in advance of the NATO summit scheduled for Lisbon, Portugal this coming November. This coalition currently includes 46 nations, representing one third of the military forces deployed, and an even larger portion of the logistics necessary for the occupation. The new British regime has been signaling that its commitment to Afghanistan will not be eternal. Prime Minister David Cameron told British Tommies in Afghanistan that they will be brought home just as soon as their task is finished. Air Chief Marshal Jock Stirrup, the highest ranking uniformed military figure in the UK, is being ousted in a signal of deep cuts to come for the British military establishment. Poland has demanded that NATO come up with a detailed exit plan for ending the Afghan engagement. In Germany, the most recent poll shows about 70% opposition to the endless war, and budget cuts are looming in that country as well. The Netherlands and Canada both intend to withdraw their contingents from Afghanistan next year. Turkey is another country with a presence in Afghanistan that may soon become fed up with this adventure, especially because of the contemptuous and shoddy treatment meted out to the Turks by the State Department over the Iran uranium enrichment and Gaza aid flotilla issues. All signs suggest that, when the Afghan engagement comes up for discussion at the November NATO summit in Lisbon, disaffection and defection will be the dominant notes.

NATO defeatism comes on top of growing disaffection with Obama’s endless war inside the United States: the newest poll has a majority of 53% convinced that prolonging the Afghanistan war is not worth the sacrifices involved. Even more acute is the growing backlash from inside the Democratic Party. Congressman Charlie Rangel of Harlem recently assailed Obama as being “consistent with” Bush and Cheney when it comes to lying about the wars he is conducting.

Petraeus the Neocon, The Thinking Man’s Warmonger

The neocon cabal in Washington has been largely booted out of government by the Brzezinski-Trilateral-Bilderberg financier faction who run Obama. But the neocons are determined not to stay in the wilderness forever, and their chosen vehicle for a comeback is the Petraeus presidential candidacy. Petraeus is now the main unifying figure of the neocon war party. The allegedly thoughtful general was recently lionized at neocon central, the American Enterprise Institute, which gave him its Irving Kristol Award in early May. As Antiwar noted:

… many have speculated of late he is selling himself – as a potential Republican candidate for commander in chief. …. And he probably won’t become the Republican nominee without some heavy lifting from the star-maker machinery at AEI, which would enjoy nothing more than to get its own pocket general into the White House. …. This mutually beneficial relationship is already off to a great start. Thanks to ‘Team Kagan,’ AEI’s Bill Kristol and Charles Krauthammer, and a battery of sycophantic pundits and mainstream journalists, Petraeus’ lack of authentic exceptionalism has been transformed into an unshakable ‘warrior-scholar’ persona with his own ‘legacy’…. But his recent pandering to AEI and the lip-smacking response from Kristol & Co. should make anyone who still maintains a thread of common sense and an institutional memory very concerned.[1]

Petraeus is getting kudos from Max Boot, the Kagans, Frank Gaffney, and other ambitious neocon careerists.

Peter Beinart has compared Petraeus to Dwight Eisenhower, the 1952 GOP candidate, and thinks that Petraeus may be highly effective as a candidate in the current anti-politician atmosphere. Beinart, currently at the New America Foundation, comments:

Today’s GOP has a right-wing base that can damage Obama, but none of its favorites have a prayer of winning the White House. The reason is that just like the Republican right of the early 1950s, which kept insisting that the New Deal constituted socialism (or fascism), today’s conservative activists have not accommodated themselves to some basic shifts in public mood…. powerful forces within the GOP will begin looking for a candidate who doesn’t have to kowtow to the party’s activist base. They’ll need someone with enough personal appeal to avoid the culture war food-fights that obsess the Republican base, someone who exudes moral traditionalism and fiscal prudence without appearing fanatical or intolerant. Such obfuscation won’t satisfy the GOP’s hard-right core, of course, but John McCain—another soldier-turned-pol—has already shown that the right’s stranglehold on the nominating process can be broken. Like McCain in 2008, Petraeus could largely skip the Iowa caucuses, which evangelicals dominate, and instead focus on New Hampshire, where independents can vote. In both 2000 and 2008, it was New Hampshire that boosted McCain, and New Hampshire, as it turns out, is the closest thing Petraeus has to a home state. From there it would be on to South Carolina, where military pedigrees go a long way…. Parties that have grown narrow and extreme tend to spiral downward until they nominate someone who is not beholden to their narrow, extreme base. That person has to be so popular that he or she can defy the normal rules about how candidates get nominated. Right now, David Petraeus is the only Republican who fits the bill. In the weeks ahead, McChrystal may become a conservative folk hero for opposing Obama on Afghanistan. But for Democrats looking toward 2012 and 2016, it’s Petraeus who represents the real threat.[2]

The warmonger regroupment around Petraeus has been noticed across the Atlantic by the June 12 London Economist, which measures a Petraeus-Daniels ticket against a Palin-Huckabee one. In another article, the city of London house organ notes that, in addition to Huckabee, Romney, Palin, Pawlenty, and Barbour, “a few even hope that General David Petraeus could be lured in.” In reality, Petraeus is more than eager. If current US reactionary politics resembles the mad Hatter’s tea party with Alice and the white rabbit, as the Economist cover suggests, perhaps Petraeus can bring power out of chaos.

Once we know that the neocons are running the Petraeus for President campaign, much else becomes clear, especially if we recall the neocon methods used in connection with the Iraq invasion of 2003. The planted puff piece about Afghan minerals has neocon fingerprints all over it; it may have been concocted at the AEI. It implies that NATO states that stick with the US might receive a piece of the action when it comes to looting these natural resources. This is exactly the way that reconstruction contracts in Iraq were employed under neocon auspices. Back in those days, the Germans and the French were excluded because they had opposed the neocon-induced war hysteria of 2003.

One big objection to making the Afghan occupation infinite has to do with the tremendous monetary costs involved, which the sovereign debt crisis has made it harder for the participating governments to bear. Here we should remember the pie-in-the-sky promised by Wolfowitz and other neocons in 2002-2003, when they proclaimed that an invasion of Iraq would be self-financing, thanks to the promised looting of Iraqi oil, which in reality has never materialized in the promised form. Back in those years, there were even more extravagant neocon fantasies about what could be done by bringing Iraqi oil production under US control. Some neocons recommended a massive increase in Iraqi oil output with the goal of radically lowering the world price of oil and busting the OPEC cartel. All of this, we note in retrospect, was never accomplished.

Exercitus facit imperatorem: The Army Creates the Emperor

The presidency has been won by Washington, Jackson, Harrison, Zachary Taylor, Grant, Garfield, Theodore Roosevelt, and Eisenhower, so there is no doubt that military leaders have often represented formidable contenders. By contrast, the current Republican field represents a collection of largely discredited hacks and ideological crackpots who would have a very difficult time winning a presidential contest. Palin is an imbecile. Huckabee is a clown. Jindall is a bungler. Pawlenty is a nonentity. Barbour could be a deep south favorite son at the very most. DeMint is in the same regional minor league.

Romney, the asset stripper from Bain Capital, is wired into Wall Street and does well with country club plutocrats, but lacks appeal to the social issue and warmonger reactionary currents inside the GOP. Earlier this year, Romney’s future appeared to be that of vice president and de facto prime minister/austerity enforcer in a Petraeus-Romney administration. But now, many have figured out that the Obama health care bill, with its capitulation to the insurance and big pharma cartels, is directly based on the individual mandate to buy overpriced insurance under government coercion instituted by Romney when he was governor of Massachusetts. Given the current agitation of the Tea Party Romney’s identification with the Obama health bill is now an obstacle to his future aspirations. In response to this problem, various media have begun to tout Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, a former Reagan appointee who does not share Romney’s Massachusetts problems, although he is less effective in other ways. For the moment, we must conclude that the choice between a Petraeus-Romney ticket and a Petraeus-Daniels GOP ticket is still up in the air.

Petraeus: the New von Hindenburg

If the Petraeus candidacy materializes in the way that now seems likely, it will mark a new phase in the ungovernability, economic immiseration, and erosion of democracy in the United States. Unfortunately, the historical parallels for a Petraeus candidacy do not point in the direction of Eisenhower. They point rather towards Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg, the German commander of World War I who became president of the Weimar Republic in 1925 and during whose reactionary and authoritarian presidency the Hitler movement rapidly grew in power. It was Hindenburg who allowed Hitler to take state power in 1933 by appointing him as Chancellor, leading to the swift consolidation of a totalitarian dictatorship. Hindenburg’s appeal was that he was a general and not a politician, not a creature of corrupt parliamentary haggling and backroom deals, but only accustomed simply to obey or to command. This meant that the Hindenburg presidency had a definite anti-parliamentary and anti-democratic thrust from the very beginning, and that is what we can expect to see if Petraeus ever gets to the White House. With the German parliament paralyzed by about March 1930, Hindenburg’s presidency soon became a continuous state of emergency rule, in which the Field Marshal approved or disapproved emergency decrees submitted by a series of chancellors – Brüning, von Papen, von Schleicher, and finally Hitler.

Petraeus has the advantage of being able to play on the sense of military discipline and loyalty which is ingrained in many Tea Party activists. Even a cursory survey of the Tea Party folk shows that a very large number of them are retired military, and their movement is full of militaristic overtones favorable to foreign aggression. There is reason to believe that many of these activists would immediately place Petraeus, whom they naïvely might view as the victor of Mesopotamia, in a special privileged category above other candidates, and rapidly fall into line. This probable ability to deliver the recalcitrant Tea Party gives Petraeus a great advantage over other Republican hopefuls like Romney, who might be competitive in the general election, but who would have a very hard time fighting their way through Republican primaries dominated by ideological fanaticism.

Obama has been doing yeoman service as a union buster, forcing the United Auto Workers to give up games they had acquired through decades of bitter struggle and sacrifice. Obama and his Secretary of Education Arnie Duncan are leading the charge to bust the teachers’ unions as the centerpiece of a general assault against public employees of all types conducted under the banner of ferocious austerity. Right now, Obama still remains the best strike breaker the Wall Street financier elite can deploy. But Obama is collapsing rapidly, and the ruling elite must prepare an alternative option for 2012. But G. W. Bush left the Republican Party in a shambles, racked by internal dissent and lead by the group of reactionary clowns, mountebanks, and misfits we have already mentioned. Would the Republican Party as it currently exists be sufficient, if put into power, to break the kind of strike wave that that might emerge (as in Greece) from the current policies of retrenchment, drastic austerity, savage cuts in social services, union busting, and tax gouging? There is some doubt that it could.

Petraeus could certainly mobilize the Tea Party to break strikes and protests by workers, students, immigrants, and supporters of social services, but his big advantage would be his ability to lean on the uniformed military establishment and the secret intelligence agencies in a more overt way than other presidents could. Again, the example of von Hindenburg is instructive. A Petraeus presidency would most likely be an exercise in emergency rule, a de facto dictatorship by Executive Order under the color of the existing 9/11 national emergency, or of some other emergency which Petraeus could declare. Petraeus could maintain a certain public detachment in order to preserve his credibility longer, while leaving the dirty details to a vice presidential Prime Minister like Romney or Mitch Daniels, both of whom have experience as state governors. The content of the emergency decrees would inevitably be economic austerity of the most brutal type, combined with unprecedented attacks on civil liberties, against a background of new and catastrophic foreign military adventures.

During this week’s hearings on the wretched state of the Afghan military adventure conducted by the Senate Armed Services Committee, committee chair Senator Carl Levin asked if, in the professional military judgment of General Petraeus, Obama’s announced goal of starting the US departure from Afghanistan were advisable. Petraeus pointedly refused to endorse Obamas July 2011 target, first remaining silent for a prolonged interval, then hemming and hawing, and finally offering a highly qualified and grudging assent, while warning that it is necessary to be very careful with timetables. In other words, Petraeus has decided to leave open the option of clashing with Obama over the conduct of the Afghan war. One can imagine a scenario in which Petraeus sometime around July 2011 resigns his command in protest over Obama’s desire to cut and run, and vows to take the issue to the voters. He might even take a leaf from von Hindenburg’s book and accuse Obama of wanting to stab his gallant forces in the back, just when final victory is within their grasp. The precedents for this kind of politics are not good.

[1] Kelley B. Vlahos, “President Petraeus,” May 17, 2010, at

[2] Peter Beinart, “Petraeus for President?” October 12, 2009, at
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Japan Has 'Priority' On Rights To Mine Afghanistan Mineral Deposits, Says Hamid Karzai

First Posted: 06-20-10 01:34 AM   |   Updated: 06-20-10 06:39 PM

Afghan President Hamid Karzai said this week that Japan -- not the U.S. -- takes priority over other nations when it comes to mining his country's vast mineral deposits.

Karzai made his proclamation during a five-day visit to Japan. Over that same time period, news reports surfaced that Afghanistan and Pakistan planned to negotiate with U.S.-NATO enemies, the U.N. reported that insurgent violence is surging, and Reuters tried to parse the Pentagon's mixed messages over U.S. strategy in Afghanistan.

During an appearance at the Japan Institute of International Affairs, Karzai focused on his country's mineral deposits. He pointed to Japan's status as Afghanistan's second-biggest donor, and reasoned that Japan should enjoy special access to Afghan resources with estimated values that range from $1-3 trillion dollars.

"Morally, Afghanistan should give access as a priority to those countries that have helped Afghanistan massively in the past few years," Karzai told the institute.

"What . . . we have to reciprocate with is this opportunity of mineral resources, that we must return at the goodwill of the Japanese people by giving Japan priority to come and explore and extract," Karzai said.

Looking to the future, Karzai echoed an internal Pentagon memo and said that the mining will define Afghanistan, "Whereas Saudi Arabia is the oil capital of the world, Afghanistan will be the lithium capital of the world.... And Japan is welcome to participate in the lithium exploration in Afghanistan."

An analysis by The New York Times would suggest that the vast majority of Afghans should not share Karzai's optimism about the deposits:

"Countries with a history of conflict have perverse effects from mineral wealth -- more war, more corruption, less democracy and more inequality," said Terry Lynn Karl, a political science professor at Stanford and the author of "The Paradox of Plenty," which shows how the populations of poor countries like Nigeria often get poorer after oil is discovered and a tiny elite benefits.

American military deaths in Afghanistan total 1,103. Last month, the total cost of wars in Afghanistan and Iraq surpassed $1 trillion, according to National Priorities Project's Cost of War.