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Liberators Once More: the New Party Line for Selling the Afghanistan War

Publié le 14 juin, 2010 | Pas de commentaires

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“And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out…” (LK 19:40)

So it has come to this. A Disney-esque storyline is now the latest narrative for Why We Were Right. “$1 trillion in untapped mineral deposits”, the New York Times gushes breathlessly, as though the Good News mustn’t wait another moment to comfort our hearts, “far beyond any previously known reserves and enough to fundamentally alter the Afghan economy and perhaps the Afghan war itself.”

No, seriously, it gets better: “The vast scale of Afghanistan’s mineral wealth was discovered by a small team of Pentagon officials and American geologists.” See, and you thought they were just paying off warlords and subsidizing opium.

“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 of the United States Central Command, said in an interview on Saturday. ‘There are a lot of ifs, of course, but I think potentially it is hugely significant.’”

Even Petraeus is on board this time! The Joe Biden of the military has been successfully briefed on the importance of stating how important this is. Those “ifs” he’s speaking of probably refer to the utter intransigence of the Taliban and the impossibility of actually creating the mines that will save the country. But hey, no plan is 100% perfect:

“Instead of bringing peace, the newfound mineral wealth could lead the Taliban to battle even more fiercely to regain control of the country.

“The corruption that is already rampant in the Karzai government could also be amplified by the new wealth, particularly if a handful of well-connected oligarchs, some with personal ties to the president, gain control of the resources. Just last year, Afghanistan’s minister of mines was accused by American officials of accepting a $30 million bribe to award China the rights to develop its copper mine. The minister has since been replaced.

“Endless fights could erupt between the central government in Kabul and provincial and tribal leaders in mineral-rich districts. Afghanistan has a national mining law, written with the help of advisers from the World Bank, but it has never faced a serious challenge.

’No one has tested that law; no one knows how it will stand up in a fight between the central government and the provinces,’ observed Paul A. Brinkley, deputy undersecretary of defense for business and leader of the Pentagon team that discovered the deposits.

“At the same time, American officials fear 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. After winning the bid for its Aynak copper mine in Logar Province, China clearly wants more, American officials said.

“Another complication is that because Afghanistan has never had much heavy industry before, it has little or no history of environmental protection either. ‘The big question is, can this be developed in a responsible way, in a way that is environmentally and socially responsible?’ Mr. Brinkley said. ‘No one knows how this will work.’

With virtually no mining industry or infrastructure in place today, it will take decades for Afghanistan to exploit its mineral wealth fully. ‘This is a country that has no mining culture,’ said Jack Medlin, a geologist in the United States Geological Survey’s international affairs program.”

You have to hand it to them: there’s even a mining-backstory that should be read as it slides away from you in white letters against a background of stars in the blackness of space. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/14/world/asia/14minerals.html?pagewanted=2&hp

Kids, this latest retelling of Why We Are Right is not only meant to justify the means by the glorious end, those future bags of liberated wealth that would fill Scrooge McDuck with glee. This is the beginning of justifying even further escalation. The U.S. is having serious problems keeping Russia and China onside when it comes to Israel, Africa and Iran. Is the promise of a shared goldmine what’s on the table, or something more sinister?

From this ridiculous fantasy, full of loopholes and disclaimers at every turn, there’s no way to tell. It’s a comic-book cliffhanger, we’ll have to wait for the next installment in this fabulous adventure.


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