Did ‘WMDs’ really stand for ‘wealthy mineral deposits?’

Published 11:18 am Thursday, June 24, 2010

The United States has discovered that Afghanistan has mineral reserves, including copper, gold and lithium, worth an estimated $1 trillion.

That revelation makes it an all-new war. …

Teams of mining experts, some from American companies, are looking at Afghanistan’s deposits with an eye to eventual exploitation and marketing. Such activity casts new light on what the United States is doing in Afghanistan, and the likelihood that it will stay if the Kabul government agrees and the security situation can be made tenable.

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There are dollars to be made and critical minerals to be mined, by U.S. companies if possible. Lithium is used in batteries. Rare earths are used in missiles, cell phones, laptop computers, and green technologies such as wind turbines. …

For Americans, the first question is whether the knowledge of Afghanistan’s mineral wealth has played a part in the Bush and Obama administrations’ decisions to maintain and increase the U.S. military presence there.

The second question is why this information is emerging now. …

This big news for Afghanistan also raises big questions for America — giving new meaning to the term “military-industrial complex.”