Daily Archives: June 14, 2010

Afghan update – JACKPOT Edition!!!

Ho!  And you all thought things were going poorly in Afghanistan…What better time to announce the discovery of:

…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,

As I said, lo these few weeks ago.

I would interpret that to mean that the military has been given the word (explicitly or implicitly) that that 2011 deadline is NOT set in stone.  I would, in fact, go further and predict that barring some unforeseen change in the operating environment we will almost definitely have a significant presence in Afghanistan for some time.

I think we just extended our lease on this thing.

The article doesn’t say how much of the deposits include those rare earth elements that China’s been snapping up like crazy but indicate that they may decide that Afghanistan is worth more attention than they’ve been giving it (maybe some mineral rights in exchange for a few hundred thousand of China’s PLA ambassadors?)  Apparently there are some though:

Other finds include large deposits of niobium, a soft metal used in producing superconducting steel, rare earth elements and large gold deposits in Pashtun areas of southern Afghanistan.

Other bits of unintentionally ironic news from the article.

The Pentagon task force has already started trying to help the Afghans set up a system to deal with mineral development.

I suspect that help might look a bit like this (the only question being whether they’ll need an English-Pashtu interpreter or a Chinese-Pashto one):

And, perhaps coincidentally, there were a spate of articles this weekend that coalition intelligence assets were (finally) beginning to refocus on corruption within the Afghan government.  Look, I appreciate that you want to express confidence in the local government but if one of the tenets of population centric operations is instilling a sense of confidence in the ability of the government to establish and maintain security and the rule of law you really can’t tolerate a rampant kleptocracy.  The question (as it unfortunately is far too often) is why has it taken nine years to figure out that this was important?

The radical Left in Germany

Spiegel online has a pretty good three part series about the rise of the militant Left in Germany.  Leftist political extremism manifests itself differently in Europe than in the U.S. and I suspect, even though someone much more knowledgeable then me disagreed when I interviewed him, there are regional variations within the U.S.  It might be nice to study this sort of thing but I won’t be holding my breath.

Still, there are some really interesting nuggets in here and I highly recommend the whole article.  You’ll be hard pressed to find a similar piece talking about political radicalism in the U.S. media that doesn’t sacrifice information for the quest of the dramatic narrative.

On the use of violence:

Violence, he says, must be used constructively and “responsibly,” not against people — especially now that things in Germany are also gaining momentum again. “There’s been a rise in the number of night-time actions,” he says, “and militancy on the street is increasing.”

On the problems of security forces to deal with these individuals:

Police have gotten to the bottom of only a fraction of last year’s 1,822 violent acts. It would be difficult to find another part of society where authorities know so little as the left-wing extremist scene. Shortly after taking office last October, Interior Minister de Maiziere requested an overview of the situation, but what the BKA and the Office for the Protection of the Constitution reported back to him amounted to little more than an admission of failure. Of 6,600 militant activists who had supposedly been identified, the Office for the Protection of the Constitution actually knows the names of only 1,055. They have no idea about the rest.

The BKA complained that “hardly any scientific research” had been carried out on militant autonomists’ backgrounds, motives and structures.

On what the increase in activity might mean:

Dieter Rucht, a sociologist at the Social Science Research Center Berlin, has been researching political protests and social movements for years. He says the increasing militancy of the left wing could also be a sign of weakness — not strength, as some autonomists themselves claim and the authorities fear. It’s something researchers observe often, Rucht says: “When movements lose followers, the inner core radicalizes.”