Related: Economy, Environment, Living, Politics

Afghanistan Inc.



Forget the Gulf of Mexico.  Afghanistan is about to become the world’s latest staging ground for humanity’s insatiable desire to extract resources from the earth to support modern civilization.   Look out, Saudia Arabia!   Pentagon Papers now tell us that Afghanistan’s mineral resources — iron, copper, gold, lithium — could run to the trillions, making this war-torn primitive nation the latest icon of capitalism.

Or, so The New Y0rk Times reported on Monday.

The Times also reports that the story on Afghanistan’s resources received more reader comments than almost any other news story this year, and many of them came laced with suspicion.   Why is the Pentagon producing secret reports on the mineral resources of a country where  the United States is waging a war? — that’s the tone that several readers offered.  Some went so far as to speculate on the link between the war and U.S. motives.   Others were less cynical but more worried, seeing in this discovery the potential for even further destruction of the Afghan culture.

War changes nations permanently, for better or worse, and so we should not be surprised that the protracted war in Afghanistan, supposedly in search of Osama Bin Laden (remember him?) now enters a phase where the value of the land, itself, becomes a major stake in the strategy.   Just as the United States became enmeshed in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East because of U.S. corporate interests in the oil industry (and the Bin Laden family played a major role in building the infrastructure of the once-backward Arabian desert civilization), so, too, the danger for the U.S. is that these latest discoveries will further compromise the ability of this nation to leave Afghanistan.

The dangers of exploitation of the land and its resources are as obvious as the slick fingers choking the life out of the Gulf of Mexico.   Discovering invaluable veins of minerals beneath the surface of the earth is no longer a happy occasion.   We see the wages of greed in the destruction of the earth.   And the impulse for profit is so overwhelming that even people who can see the destruction of the Gulf of Mexico from their docks are now arguing that deep water oil drilling should continue because, despite the dangers, we must have the oil.

The Times also reports the sheer glee of Hamid Karzai and the Afghan government over the news of the mineral resources.  In fact, Afghan officials are already calculating how much money they will get from mining.

One-legged Ahab trims his sails again, voyaging off in search of the whale, determined that, this time, he will conquer the beast.

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Patricia A. McGuire, President, Trinity, 125 Michigan Ave. NE, Washington, DC 20017
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