The U.S. military and government geologists have discovered a potentially game-changing $1 trillion worth of minerals and metals underneath Afghanistan, The New York Times reports. The deposits of copper, iron, cobalt, gold, and gadget-powering lithium are vast enough to transform the impoverished country — the Pentagon says Afghanistan could become the "Saudi Arabia of lithium" — as well as the U.S. war effort there. What could this mean for Afghanistan, and the U.S.? (Watch a Fox News report about the mineral jackpot in Afghanistan)
Everyone wins, but the Taliban: Afghanistan is loaded, and that's "very cool news," says Dave Halliday at SynthStuff. The Afghan government gets a rich source of revenue to counter the Taliban's opium racket, and the U.S. gets a second source of lithium, "used in almost every rechargeable battery these days from hybrid vehicles to hand-held power tools," after China. What's not to celebrate?
"Very cool news from Afghanistan"
Afghanistan is in for some pain: I, for one, "have a very bad feeling about this," says Kevin Drum at Mother Jones. Stupendous wealth, corrupt "oligarchs run wild," and "a trillion new reasons for the Taliban to fight even harder" — that's one very toxic combination for Afghanistan. And "the cynical among us" might fear this jackpot will be a "shiny new reason to keep [an American] military presence in Afghanistan forever."
"Afghanistan strikes it rich"
U.S. troops are the only bulwark agains chaos: This new wealth, and China's lust for it, could be just the empowering excuse Afghan President Hamid Karzai needs to kick America out, actually, says Aziz Poonawalla in BeliefNet. But let's hope not. U.S. troops are the only thing that will keep the "resource curse" from ravaging Afghanistan. That may be "distasteful," but the alternatives are certainly worse.
"Afghanistan's trillion-dollar curse: lithium"
Take the report with a grain of salt: Given how badly things are going in the war, the timing of this leak is suspicious, says Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo. But so is the mineral discovery itself. Neither the Brits nor the Russians uncovered this wealth during their occupation, but a "relatively limited geographical survey" from the U.S. turns it up in a few years? At best it seems "a little out of the blue."
"Karzai as Ibn Saud"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- A brief history of the Guy Fawkes mask
- Obama just kneecapped Jeb Bush and Chris Christie's 2016 prospects
- Chuck Hagel was a huge mistake
- Want to eliminate the scourge of frat culture? Lower the drinking age.
- 5 quick things you can do today to boost your creativity
- Yes, the Obama administration's green loans are unprofitable. They should be.
- What would it take for humans to build a settlement on Mars?
- House hunting: 7 stunning castles in Europe
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
Subscribe to the Week