Local Stories, Events
Ref. : Civic Events
Ref. : Arts & Education Events
Ref. : Public Service Notices
Books, Films, Arts & Education
Ref. : Letters to the editor
Health Care & Environment
11.16 How pesticide bans can prevent tens of thousands of suicides a year [how many thousands more die early from eating pesticide-laced food?]
11.15 The long read: The plastic backlash: what's behind our sudden rage – and will it make a difference? [the world wants to throw-up...]
11.15 Claws out: crab fishermen sue 30 oil firms over climate change [workers are waking-up...]
11.12 This Land is Your Land: The Zinke effect: how the US interior department became a tool of industry [behaving ignorantly again...]
11.11 Trump responds to worst fires in California’s history by threatening to withhold federal aid [behaving ignorantly again...]
11.11 Interior department sued for ‘secretive process’ in at-risk species assessment [behaving ignorantly again...]
11.11 Keystone XL pipeline: judge rules government 'jumped the gun' and orders halt [behaving ignorantly again...]
News Media Matters
US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'
11.16 As 'Green New Deal' Demand Grows, Democrats Have Choice: Confront and Defeat Fossil Fuel Industry or Take Credit for 'Doomed' Planet [Two choices: Save life-on-Earth or help Republicans let it die?]
11.15 Democrats Won Big. Can They Go Bold, Too? [it's about suppressing the influence and leadership by Republican-like Democrats who counsel 'íncremental' (no) change, such as Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, Hillary Clinton, Chuck Shumer and Joe Biden]
11.15 Pentagon Officials Forced to Make Fewer Public Appearances to Avoid Provoking Trump [...by revealing Trump's huuuge ignorance]
11.15 REPUBLICANS USED A BILL ABOUT WOLVES TO AVOID A VOTE ON YEMEN WAR [if there are 'defense industry' profits to be made—including congress-critter insider-trading—and political 'donations' to be had, we mustn't stop killing innocent civilians!]
11.14 The Guardian view on Yemen’s misery: the west is complicit [WAR CRIMES]
Economics, Crony Capitalism
11.16 Amazon’s HQ2 Will Get a Tax Break Designed to Help the Poor [a Republican program that directly helps participating wealthy companies—but only helps workers if and when 'trickle-down' occurs.]
11.16 Trump doesn’t want to punish Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi. His new sanctions prove it. [George W. Bush made a similar immoral decision for the same oily reasons after 9-11, protecting Saudi defense contracts while facilitating the slaughter of poorer Arab "terrorists" in the region.]
11.15 The Earth is in a death spiral. It will take radical action to save us [fossil fuel burning, un-recyclable plastic production/use and methane gas release must cease ASAP.]
International & Futurism
11.15 Cuba to pull doctors out of Brazil after President-elect Bolsonaro comments [terms must be negotiated for fairness to Cuba's health professionals without disruption of healthcare for Brazil's poor]
11.14 'Appalling' Khashoggi audio shocked Saudi intelligence – Erdogan [Exposing a psychopath?]
But the Devil Sends the Cooks
Wednesday, 16 June 2010
It all boils down to this for the good old US of A. Cut and run and be damned, or stay and fight and be damned but have your pockets full by the time the bullhorn is sounded.
Despite incessant interludes of chaos, Afghanistan was not always this rough, blood splattered land of wild hordes charging their steeds in its desolate stretches. When Europe was backwards, impoverished and irrelevant territory, the region today called Central Asia, with Afghanistan at its southern tip and ancient trade routes interweaving it, was a land of much wealth, culture, scholarly attainment and prized international trade.
Writing way back in the year 1900, poet James Elroy Flecker summed up the view the Western world held of the region at the time;
Sweet to ride forth at evening from the wells,
Dating back over 6000 years, some of the earliest indications of mining anywhere in the world come from Afghanistan. Afghanistan, for example, has always been a well-known source of precious and semi-precious stones and above all its lapis lazuli. The blue lapis lazuli stone in the famous funeral mask of the Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamen was reportedly exported from Badakhshan in Afghanistan to Egypt in 1300 BC.
During the Russian occupation of Afghanistan, geological investigations were closed to the Western world. The Soviets, however, did carry out sporadic mining surveys in the country neatly cataloguing these on charts and maps. Though much of this record was destroyed during the armed resistance to the Soviet occupation, and later during the messy Taliban rule, some did survive.
It was thus that in 2004, when the Americans undertook the so called reconstruction effort in Afghanistan, some geologists came across fascinating sets of old Soviet charts and data at the library of the Afghan Geological Survey in Kabul. The information more than hinted at major mineral deposits in the country.
That got the US Geological Survey team’s antennae up. They promptly got an old Orion P-3 aircraft, configured it with advanced gravity and magnetic measuring equipment, loaded it up with the Russian survey charts and maps and began a series of aerial surveys of Afghanistan’s mineral resources. They flew well over 70 per cent of the country in the year 2006. The data they put together was so promising that they returned in 2007, this time with instruments that offered a 3-D contour of mineral deposits deep below the surface. In the end, what was started as a hunch turned out to be the most wide-ranging geological survey ever conducted in Afghanistan. The results, not shared internationally till then, were breathtaking.
Due to the universally slow pace of bureaucracy, however, files containing this astonishing array of records kept gathering dust for next the two years in US filing cabinets. It was only in 2009 that a Pentagon task force called ‘Business Development Task Force’ (whatever it stands for) stumbled upon this wealth of information. Not very much later the Pentagon task force brought in teams of American mining experts and had them poring over the survey’s findings. Eureka!, the experts shouted to themselves at the end of the study, with their head honchos reaching for the nearest telephones simultaneously.
The Times broke the story in a screaming headline on June 13, 2010. Reportedly, the deposits are so rich in quality and quantity that according to the NYT “Afghanistan could eventually be transformed into one of the most important mining centers in the world.” Having a worth of approximately one trillion US dollars, Afghanistan is said to be loaded with bulging veins of gold, copper, iron, cobalt and critical industrial metals like Lithium. The country’s present gross domestic product stands at a puny $12 billion.
The biggest mineral deposits discovered so far are of iron and copper. Other finds include large deposits of niobium, a soft metal used in producing superconducting steel, and some rare earth elements. An internal Pentagon memo, according to the same report, states that “Afghanistan could become the ‘Saudi Arabia of lithium’.” Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of the United States Central Command called it a ‘stunning potential’. Jalil Jumriany, an adviser to the Afghan minister of mines, said, “this will become the backbone of the Afghan economy.”
Intriguingly, the Times slipped in another interesting report the very next day i.e. on June 14th. According to this one, the bidding for rights to explore the reserves could begin in as little as six months and that Afghan officials believed that there was even more wealth than announced so far. According to these officials, it was so because, “in part the surveyors did not examine closely the entire country and at least 30 percent of it has yet to be fully investigated.”
The NYT articles of the 13th and 14th June surreptitiously raise two other issues. One, the Taliban could now fight ever more viciously for their country’s untapped wealth. And two, regional actors like China are likely to warm up to the idea of having these untold riches just in their backyard.
Well!!! One could let the two stories go by as straightforward reporting but for one other report. In this report of 14th June, the viability of President Obama’s plan to begin pulling out by July 2011 has been questioned. Ever ready regional specialist Bruce Reidel of Brookings Institution, who helped formulate the administration’s first Afghan strategy in early 2009 has been reported as saying, “things are not looking good, there’s not much sign of the turnaround that people were hoping for.” While Mr. Reidel did say that pouring in more troops was politically infeasible, he also added, “pulling out altogether would make the United States vulnerable to a terrorist attack organized by Al Qaeda and originating in a Taliban-dominated Afghanistan.”
Now the scribe could have simply said ‘eat your heart out Dick Cheney’ and let the news slip by as sensational but routine, or draw certain not so routine conclusions from the reportage. Just some of these are;
Essentially, then, it all boils down to this for the good old US of A. Cut and run and be damned, or stay and fight and be damned but have your pockets full by the time the bullhorn is sounded.
So yes, eat your heart out Dick Cheney for you missed it by a click but urge Dubya’s successors to start building the world’s second largest embassy in Kabul, the first one having been already built in the other colony.
To the grand strategic thinkers of Pakistani variety especially, therefore, one has this to say; start getting your danders up, but make haste slowly this time for no one is going any where any time too soon. Let the grand masters have their fill of the Manna first.
And to the poor Afghans unable to extract from the bowels of the earth what is rightfully theirs, this, “God sends the meat but the devil sends the cooks.”
Copyright 2010 by Anwaar Hussain. The writer, a former officer of the Pakistan Air Force, is now based in Canada. This story was originally published in Truth Spring, Mr. Hussain's blog, and is republished in the Baltimore Chronicle with the author's permission. Mr. Hussain may be reached by email at email@example.com.
Copyright © 2010 The Baltimore News Network. All rights reserved.
Republication or redistribution of Baltimore Chronicle content is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.
Baltimore News Network, Inc., sponsor of this web site, is a nonprofit organization and does not make political endorsements. The opinions expressed in stories posted on this web site are the authors' own.This story was published on June 16, 2010.