Untold Mineral Riches Discovered in Afghanistan, Which Can Only End Well

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06/14/2010 12:54 PM |

Barack Obama and Hamid Karzai discuss Afghanistans newly discovered mineral wealth.
  • Barack Obama and Hamid Karzai discuss Afghanistan’s newly discovered mineral wealth.

“The United States has discovered nearly $1 trillion in untapped mineral deposits in Afghanistan,” the Times reports: “The previously unknown deposits — including huge veins of iron, copper, cobalt, gold and critical industrial metals like lithium — are so big and include so many minerals that are essential to modern industry that Afghanistan could eventually be transformed into one of the most important mining centers in the world…” according to US officials, who did not continue to say, “so, previously announced withdrawal timetables notwithstanding, we’re going to continue our military presence in the country until the year 2250 or the collapse of China as a global power, whichever comes first.”

If this discovery seems like a major boon for a hard-luck country, consider, as the Times does, that Afghanistan is a country with no mining infrastructure or history of environmental protection, engaged in a war with the Taliban, and run from within a compound by a paranoid, ineffectual, erratic president with family ties to the international drug trade, and whose administration is completely corrupt when it manages to not be bossed around by brutally feuding tribal warlords. When Cyndi Lauper said “Money changes everything,” she didn’t meant that that was necessarily a good thing.

American geologists conducted a deep survey of the country’s reserves in the early part of last decade, but neither American nor Afghan officials moved to respond to the new information until last year, because the Bush administration was a top to bottom shitshow the extent to which likely won’t be fully understood for decades.

One Comment

  • Given the perfectly pitched potential for consummate doublespeak that buttresses almost every clause in that article, it’s little surprise that the as-yet ‘uncertain plans’ for how to properly go about establishing a mining culture where there is ‘none’ (I suppose, therefore, that the Ministry of Mining has something to do with first-person possessive gerunds as opposed to a basic knowledge of the existence of certain ores and how they might be extracted) are, at best, very suspect.

    Also very suspect, however, is the great ‘surprise’ with which they now report these findings. If Michelangelo achieved his ultramarine blues using difficultly imported lapis lazuli extracted from Afghan mines half a millennium ago, and if Marco Polo could observe that those very same mountains contain “mines of silver, copper and lead” in the 13th century,* does it not seem a bit strange that geologists (or geologists-cum-generals, etc.) waited this long to say, “in fact, holy shit, there’s quite a lot of this stuff.”

    Well, it’s quite convenient, anyway. Perhaps they’ll begin to mine the veiny hell out of lapis lazuli again, if only to make the precious decor of certain Jesuit churches in Rome lose some of their imaginarily celestial value. Unless the market for bloated orbs of turquoise proves itself impervious to such challenges, of course.

    If so, well, how about placing a couple of those big orbs atop a sacrificial altar to blue balls?

    It would help this to end with self-undercutting doublespeak, at least.

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    * Citation from _The Adventures of Marco Polo, As Dictated in Prison to a Scribe in the Year 1298_, cross-referenced in _Color_, by Victoria Finlay, New York, Random House, 2002, p. 282.