US strikes gold in Afghanistan — literally!

It is June 2010. The gigantic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has been pouring over 60,000 barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico for over two months — a colossal environmental disaster that will impact the ecosystem and the wildlife in the region for many years to come. It is noteworthy that this disaster is brought to you by none other than BP (British Petroleum), a multinational oil corporation that has its hands bloodied (and oily!) with exploitations around the world including Iran, for well over half a century. Please see my article on the 1953 coup in Iran.

The other big global event that has got world’s attention over the last few weeks is of course World Cup 2010 in South Africa, which has plenty of excitement, upsets and drama of its own.

So while the media and much of the world have been focusing on the gulf oil spill and the World Cup, an interesting New York Times news article — “U.S. Identifies Vast Mineral Riches in Afghanistan” — crossed the wires last week that got very little attention, though I think it is huge news for Afghans, and especially for the US government and certain American corporations.

According to the article, US has identified about $1 trillion of mineral deposits such as iron, copper, cobalt, gold, and metals such as niobium and lithium that have many important industrial applications. In case your math is rusty, $1 trillion is 1,000 $1 billions, or 1 million $1 millions! The article adds that “a small team of Pentagon officials and American geologists” made the discovery, though it also discloses that apparently Russians had done the ground work during their occupation of Afghanistan and had documented their findings and stored it in an Afghan library!

Afghanistan's vast mineral deposits

So all the hard work of US government (and a few allies) in Afghanistan for the past 9 years — all that destruction and killings — finally pays off! Now I understand what US forces were looking for in the caves and mountains of Afghanistan, certainly not Osama Bin Laden. By the way, I didn’t know that Pentagon, part of the US Department of Defense, is into geology and mining, and not in US but half way around the world no less.

The article says that this could potentially alter the devastated Afghan economy. But that is nothing more than a pipedream. The poor Afghans, especially the women and children, have been deprived of basic human rights for the past 20 years. They’ve been deprived of nutrition, healthcare, education and basic freedom.

The war-ridden Afghanistan has been raped and destroyed for decades first by the USSR Russian forces, and then by their very own Taliban, a barbaric supposedly fundamentalist Islamic group from the dark ages that makes Islamic Republic of Iran look like a Western European democracy.

And since 9/11, the destruction and war has been lead by the American forces, in an ill-defined war against terrorism, apparently fighting to eliminate Taliban, Al-Qaeda and hunt down its ever elusive leader Bin Laden. But there doesn’t seem to be any end in sight for this conflict. The Taliban who were supposedly defeated a few years back, have gained strength and control in certain regions of Afghanistan and now even in Pakistan, and the opium production and trade is booming, supplying the world with the much needed high and scape from the painful realities of life.

The impoverished Afghans aren’t going to see much of that $1 trillion. They have no technology, machinery, or infrastructure of their own to do mining. They will have to depend on US (government and corporations) to build all that. If Afghans are lucky they will get hired by the large corporations who will run the show to do the dirty mining work for less than minimum wage, while the US mining, construction, and heavy machinery companies and a handful of corrupt Afghans will pocket the profits. This is going to be just the beginning of years of exploitations to come. With this news the US government and forces aren’t going anywhere any time soon. They’ll stick around and even invite more to the feast that is about to begin.

I must say that I know of humanitarian efforts that are under way in certain areas of Afghanistan, to set up computers and help with education of the underprivileged Afghan children. There are American civilians and activists who are involved with such projects as I met one in person a few months back. More power to them. I wish there were much more of that. But in the grand scheme of things, such efforts are minuscule. This is all about greed, control, big power and profits.

Stephen Colbert, in a segment titled “$tay the cour$e” in his TV show Colbert Report, about the hot news in Afghanistan said, “This week in searching for reasons to stay in Afghanistan, I’m happy to say we struck gold! And he continued, “Afghanistan is about to pay off. It’s like a slot machine we’ve been warming up for nine years!” And jackpot at last! See:

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Word – $tay the Cour$e
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor Fox News

John Stewart in a segment called “Ore on Terror” in the Daily Show said to Afghans, “You will never not know war. And continued, “We can’t leave now, now that we know there is gold.” He added, “you think your country is war-torn now? This is what it’s like when we don’t want what is underneath you. Up until now we were motivated by revenge, but greed, that is a whole new ballpark my friend.” See:

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Ore on Terror
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Tea Party

Well, there you have it. At least we have a couple of honest people on TV!

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