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?