Lithium, a mineral used in Blackberrys, laptops, and all the recent tech devices has been found in unprecedented abundance in Afghanistan; in addition, massive amounts of gold, copper, iron, and other minerals have been discovered by geologists, who reported the find to Pentagon officials.
Until now, Afghanistan has been a poor country, entrenched in the struggle between the legitimate government of President Hamid Karzai, as recognized by the United States, and the Taliban. Taliban fighters are radical Muslims who, were it not for the pursuit of terrorism, would be herding goats, or struggling to grow crops for the Afghanistan market.
When a nation has oil, such as we saw in the invasion of Kuwait, or in the attempted democratization of Iraq, there may be a world wide assault on the area. This assault can be devastating to the people of the region, and can result in warfare and chaos. Following the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives, we had to accept that the democratization of Iraq was impossible. The people had an election, and reinstalled an internal Iraqi government, with no ties to the West. Even the American administration had to accept that outcome.
A Pentagon memo has already compared Afghanistan to oil-rich Saudi Arabia, with unlimited potential for mining and investment. American and Afghan officials have agreed to meet to discuss the unforeseen development. This comes at a time when internal stress in Afghanistan has brought a deterioration of ties with the U.S. The Hamid Karzai government has been besieged by accusations of corruption on the one hand, and “favoritism” toward the U.S. on the other.
Afghanistan has had a struggling economy only slightly relieved by the production of raw opium. The opium is refined into heroin, and potentially, morphine, which is shipped to the West, and sold on the streets, causing death, destruction and crime. Although in a position to eliminate the opium poppies, the U.S. has avoided that option, stating that the recompense from such destruction will be worse than the addictions.
In the light of the mineral discoveries, the Taliban will enlist far more membership, and fight all the more to control the mines. We recall that some nations, The United Arab Emirates for one, consider the Taliban to be the legitimate government in that region.
Although the American Government supports the Afghan government, last year officials in Afghanistan tried to give control of copper mines to China. Those officials were replaced. This clearly is going to be a trying time for Afghanistan and the nations of the world. Technology must be developed. Transportation, systematization – all will require intervention. The temptation to make this another Iraq, another Kuwait will be overwhelming. We will wait, and see.