Monday, June 14, 2010

The Left's Reaction to Afghanistan's New Mineral Riches‎

Okay, NYT's got what's apparently a big deal, "U.S. Identifies Vast Riches of Minerals in Afghanistan." I'm just now checking Memeorandum, and boy folks are excited. The Times' story is sensational. The mineral find is estimated at $1 trillion, and "Afghanistan could eventually be transformed into one of the most important mining centers in the world..."

The U.S. does not fight wars for treasure, of course (which is actually kinda dumb, when you think about it, considering how
China's reaping the strategic-economic gains from America's military sacrifices). But my first thought upon seeing the headline is "Great, now all the netroots neo-communists will be attacking the Afghan deployment as an imperialist boondoggle all along, blah, blah, blah ..."

It's not, but that won't deter a new round of unhinged attacks from folks on the left who just a few short years ago argued that Iraq was distracting the U.S. from our real, more important war in Afghanistan.
Michael J.W. Stickings pretty well sums up the left's cravenly antiwar political opportunism:
I will admit that, like many, I was an early supporter of the Afghan War. But I was a supporter specifically of the effort to topple the Taliban government and to remove al Qaeda from its safe haven. Since then, though, it has been a badly mismanaged war, largely because Bush shifted focus to Iraq, but also because the war, with the Taliban overthrown and al Qaeda pushed back into the mountains and the Pakistani border regions, lacks a compelling purpose, let alone any sort of realistic objective.
So, let's take a look around the 'sphere. What do we find?

At:
* AmericaBlog, "Without a strong environmental protection organization, chances are high that the dash for cash will lead to grabbing minerals in the fastest way possible without considering the environmental impact."

* Attackerman, "
And now, naturally, someone’s telling [NYT'S James] Risen about the specter of great-power resource competition that just so perfectly implies a new rationale for extended war and post-war foreign influence."

* Balloon Juice, "
Maybe it’s just my sour nature and dim view of humanity, but I fail to see why the discovery of trillions of dollars of minerals in Afghanistan is Good News for America®."

* Daily Kos, "
We have no need to worry that Afghanistan is suddenly going to transform itself in a stable, China-friendly minerals exporter any time soon. After we leave, it will probably collapse into civil war, which is none of our business. These discoveries are no reason to stay in Afghanistan."

* Democracy Arsenal, "
The only thing this story shows is the desperation of the Pentagon in planting pie-in-the-sky news stories about Afghanistan and trying to salvage the lost cause that is our current mission there."

* Digby's Hullabaloo, "
As if people and nations never fought to the death to possess humongous mineral resources."

* Kevin Drum, "
I have a very bad feeling about this. It could quickly turn into a toxic combination of stupendous wealth, superpower conflict, oligarchs run wild, entire new levels of corruption, and a trillion new reasons for the Taliban to fight even harder."

* Matthew Yglesias, "
In general, though, waging war for control of natural resources makes a lot of sense for third world bandits & militias or would-be coup leaders, but doesn’t cost out for citizens of a developed market oriented democracy."

* Marc Ambinder, "
The general perception about the war here and overseas is that the counterinsurgency strategy has failed to prop up Hamid Karzai's government in critical areas, and is destined to ultimately fail. This is not how the war was supposed to be going, according to the theorists and policy planners in the Pentagon's policy shop ... What better way to remind people about the country's potential bright future -- and by people I mean the Chinese, the Russians, the Pakistanis, and the Americans -- than by publicizing or re-publicizing valid (but already public) information about the region's potential wealth?"

* Melissa McEwan, "
I don't know what the perfect word is to describe the reserved happiness I feel on behalf of the many average people of Afghanistan who just want a functional country with a modern infrastructure bought by a stable economy, shot through with a steely bolt of panic that the very discovery which might allow that very thing will instead bring a whole new fresh hell for them as colonialists and warlords and corrupt members of their own government stake out positions around the vast reserves of minerals which have been discovered in Afghanistan by Pentagon officials and US geologists."

* Naked Capitalism, "
This vastly ups the stakes. It now isn’t hard to see that we will continue to pour resources and young men’s lives into Afghanistan to make sure we control these riches, just as we continue to throw money and personnel into Iraq to hold the prize of the second largest oil reserves in the world."

* Newshoggers, "
When the NYT published Risen's story to the web last night, I tweeted "What a convenient time to find $1 trillion, eh?" and "Just as McChrystal's in big trouble, liberal thinktanks starting to shift anti-war, Pentagon publicizes $1 trillion Afghan treasure trove," because this is a zombie story, resurrected yet again for political purposes."

* No More Mister Nice Blog, "
If anything, this will further alienate Obama's onetime supporters from the anti-war left, just in time for 2010 -- blood-for-treasure is a recognizable narrative -- and it means Ralph Nader will have to do very little rewriting of his old campaign speeches when he runs in 2012. (An Obama defeat in 2012 isn't going to reverse this course, however -- do you really think Mitt Romney or Sarah Palin will reject the opportunity to get sanctimoniously choked up at the noble sacrifice of young men and women dying in Afghanistan for niobium?)"

* Political Carnival, "
We’re never leaving now, never..."

* Prairie Weather, "
You can forget about socially-awkward burqas and Taliban insurgents as viable reasons for war and occupation. The capitalist market demands Afghanistan's mineral deposits. Who does mining better than the US?"

* Steve Benen, "
As a growing number of observers, here and around the world, raise questions anew about whether Afghanistan's future offers any hope at all, along comes a carefully leaked story about nearly $1 trillion in untapped mineral deposits, which could fundamentally improve the country's economy, stability, and long-term prospects."

* Talking Points Memo, "
Afghanistan's a pretty out of the way place. But it's not like it hasn't gotten a good bit of attention from great powers in the past. First the Brits, then the Russians, now us. So no one else ever looked or they didn't find anything ... And with so much in play right now about the future of the US mission in the country, the timing of the revelation is enough to raise some suspicions in my mind."

* Taylor Marsh, "
Instead of pushing for people to help Afghanistan and offer troops, Afghanistan could end up being the poor girl at the prom who just won the lottery. And we all know where most lottery winners end up."

* Unqualified Offerings, "
For my part, I would be content to leave Afghanistan alone and say that if somebody there somehow finds himself in control of minerals and manages to dig them out of the ground, we are willing to pay cash on delivery. We are NOT, however, willing to do our own pick-up or provide armed escorts for those who do the pick-up or the mining. The terms are cash on delivery ... Some will say that it is ruthlessly amoral to not do anything to ensure that the extraction is done by “good guys” rather than “bad guys” but I say that going in with force to ensure that the mining is done by (and profits are received by) some particular government, company, warlord, or whoever is by far a greater evil in practice than simply paying cash on delivery to whoever manages to show up with the minerals."

* Wonkette, "
If you thought Afghanistan was only profitable for opium wholesalers and the defense industry, think again! According to some convenient new geological study of the mountainous, wild land that has broken the backs of so many empires, the whole place is chock full of precious metals..."
BONUS: Steve Saideman offer a thoughtful political science take on the story, "Resources in Afghanistan!?"

**********

UPDATE: Linked at Andrew Bolt, Instapundit, Shout First, and Where Are My Keys. Plus, at Right Truth, "Problems With Afghan Mineral Deposits."

Thanks!

13 comments:

Tom Royce said...

Funny how a trillion dollars is a lot of money now. We seem to be going through that much every couple of months these days.

jmatt said...

Now wrap your brain around this: even if Obama found TEN Afghanistans that he could loot for free, it still would not cover the costs of his budgetary deficits over the next ten years.

Let that sink in for a minute.

Rosie O'Donnell said...

NO BLOOD FOR LITHIUM
NO BLOOD FOR LITHIUM
AMNESTY AMNESTY
ATTICA ATTICA
FREE MUMIYA

peter said...

Oh, great!

The wing-nutty Left will use this as a way to condemn our work in Afghanistan and the neocons will build the mines and then turn them over to Afghanistan, which in turn will cede them to the Taliban or China. Either way, we're screwed.

sprx said...

so the world is running out of resources, but if it's not, then it should be

Anonymous said...

Afghan silver is still occasionally found in Viking burial cairns, coins used to buy slaves from the British Isles and Normandy, and of course, the "Slavic" nations.

It was used to buy Chinese silks and to fund the "Golden age" of Islam. Once the silver petered out, so did the opulence. They have resented its loss ever since.

Anonymous said...

My first thought was, "Good. Now they can transition off their opium economy and possibly become a unitary nation."

MarkJ said...

Easy way to permanently shut up leftoid whiners:

Simply announce that the
EPA and the Department of the Interior will henceforth assume full control over any new mineral resources found in Afghanistan.

Impossible, you say? Well, remember, if anybody had told me 10years ago that Congress would be collectively so stupid as to give the EPA dictatorial powers to regulate carbon as a pollutant, I'd have thought that was impossible too.

Anonymous said...

Given the terrain in Afghanistan it would be a tremendous shock if there were NOT significant mineral resources. I'm glad someone has come around to noticing this. It will be a challenge to manage the extraction of these resources so that their wealth benefits the country.

JBW said...

Why would they transition off of an opium based economy when so many people want to buy and use opium, heroin and Ecstasy? It's simple economic theory.

hmi said...

"the war, with the Taliban overthrown and al Qaeda pushed back... lacks a compelling purpose, let alone any sort of realistic objective."

Not just the left. This was also Angelo Codevilla's thesis in the Winter issue of the Claremont Review of Books, an article called "Why We Don't Win." Don't know if the link gives non-subscribers access, but here goes: http://www.claremont.org/publications/crb/id.1678/article_detail.asp

Anonymous said...

And here all this time I thought we were there to build an oil pipeline?

Minicapt said...

You might wish to revise the link to Steve's comments: http://saideman.blogspot.com/2010/06/resources-in-afghanistan.html

Cheers