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The now anachronistic ‘Department of Defense’ (DoD) recently released a commercial business assessment (see link) of Afghanistan's resource and mineral wealth, which has been measured in the hundreds of BILLIONS of DOLLARS -- a routine matter for Corporations BUT an extraordinary assessment by the Pentagon, which traditionally should be an arm of government charged with the responsibility of national security and defense! Perhaps a name change for the obsolete traditional military is warranted, how about the ‘Department of Greed and Invasion or Civilian Killing and Holocausts or Resource Plundering and Theft etc;’ I’m sure readers could offer hundreds more accurate titles for the obscenity that has occurred these past few days?
Whether this very revealing release was the result of ineptitude, laziness or just plain AMERICAN, ‘fuck you’ arrogance, the cat is well and truly out of the bag now!
So soon after the commercial financial sector held a ‘gun’ to ‘our’ government’s head and demanded that taxpayer’s bail out the THIEVING banks, corporatists arrogantly reveal their complete hold on our nation -- do they really imagine people (of the world) would wear this OUTRAGE while we all continue to suffer the consequences of the failed global economy? One may well wonder what these corporatist lunatics have for breakfast – but WE KNOW – two huge lines of blow (cocaine)! My rhetorical question is, should this latest revelation that Corporations rule government AND MILITARY, surprise anyone?
Hearken back for moment and remember the IRAQ invasion; wasn’t it all about ‘security issues’, such as weapons of mass deception and Disneyland mobile anthrax labs etc – that is what WE WERE LED TO BELIEVE by the lying, CORPORATE MEDIA. However, today we discover that it REALLY was about resource (OIL) THEFT by the greedy beyond measure, CORPORATISTS -- what’s a million dead civilians when it comes to the bottom line?
Do we really wish to be ruled by these reprehensible, lowest of the low, human cockroaches OR should we RESTORE REPRESENTATIVE GOVERNMENT in ALL our respective nations and hold those responsible for the calamity in which we now find ourselves, to ACCOUNT? Do not hesitate in your response, corporatists are a KNOWN quantity. WE HAVE SEEN WHAT A ‘GREAT JOB’ THESE VERMIN DO – what’s an oil spill or two between friends or a FAILED global economy or a few bungled wars and a civilian holocaust – real talent at work?
The solution is simple, NATIONALISE the banks and other failed criminal Corporations, return wealth to the people and restore our State institutions to their traditional roles. I speak with some authority, as an educated military officer I was commissioned to uphold very clear values and to defend against the enemy, DOMESTIC and foreign!
IT IS CLEAR the enemy today is located in boardrooms NOT deserts, jungles or mountains! Today it could well be said that the only good executive is a DEAD EXECUTIVE (after due process of course).
WASHINGTON, Jun 12, 2010 (IPS) - Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal confronts the spectre of a collapse of U.S. political support for the war in Afghanistan in coming months comparable to the one that occurred in the Iraq War in late 2006.
On Thursday, McChrystal's message that his strategy will weaken the Taliban in its heartland took its worst beating thus far, when he admitted that the planned offensive in Kandahar City and surrounding districts is being delayed until September at the earliest, because it does not have the support of the Kandahar population and leadership.
Equally damaging to the credibility of McChrystal's strategy was the Washington Post report published Thursday documenting in depth the failure of February's offensive in Marja.
The basic theme underlined in both stories - that the Afghan population in the Taliban heartland is not cooperating with U.S. and NATO forces - is likely to be repeated over and over again in media coverage in the coming months.
The Kandahar operation, which McChrystal's staff has touted as the pivotal campaign of the war, had previously been announced as beginning in June. But it is now clear that McChrystal has understood for weeks that the most basic premise of the operation turned out to be false.
"When you go to protect people, the people have to want you to protect them," said McChrystal, who was in Brussels for a NATO conference.
He didn't have to spell out the obvious implication: the people of Kandahar don't want the protection of foreign troops.
The Washington Post story on McChrystal's announcement reported "U.S. officials" had complained that "the support from Kandaharis that the United States was counting on [Afghan President Hamid] Karzai to deliver has not materialised."
That explanation hardly makes McChrystal's war plan more credible, because Karzai has made no secret of his preference for a negotiated settlement rather than continued efforts to weaken the Taliban by occupying key Taliban strongholds.
The report in the Post, written by National Editor Rajiv Chandrasekaran, provided the first detailed evidence of the systematic non-cooperation of the population of the district-sized area called Marja with U.S. troops.
Chandrasekaran reported that female U.S. Marines tried to get Afghan women to come to a meeting last week, but that not a single woman showed up. And despite a NATO offer to hire as many as 10,000 residents for labour projects on irrigation projects, only about 1,200 have signed up.
The U.S. officials in Marja are trying to convince local residents, in effect, that they should trust the foreign troops to protect them from the Taliban, but the Taliban are still able to threaten to credibly to punish those who collaborate with occupation forces.
About a dozen people have been killed for such collaboration already, and many more have been warned to stop, according to Chandrasekaran's report.
"You can't get beyond security when you talk to people," a civilian official working on development told the Post editor. "They don't want to entertain discussions about projects."
Chandrasekaran also reported that representatives of rural development and education projects came to Marja initially and then retreated to the province centre. They appear to be as convinced as the population that the Taliban will continue to be a powerful presence in the region.
That was not supposed to happen when the U.S.-NATO declared victory in Marja three months ago. To ensure that no Taliban would be able to operate in the area, McChrystal had deployed nearly 15,000 U.S., British and Afghan troops to control Marja's population.
Despite news media references before and during the offensive to Marja as a "city of 80,000", it was an agricultural area whose population of about 35,000 was spread over some 120 square kilometres, based on the fewer than 50 dwellings shown on the Google Earth map of a 1.2 kilometre segment of the area.
That means the 15,000 NATO and Afghan troops provide a ratio of one occupying soldier for every two members of the population. Counterinsurgency doctrine normally calls for one soldier for every 50 people in the target area.
The fact that the U.S.-NATO forces could not clear the Taliban from Marja despite such an unusually heavy concentration of troops is devastating evidence that the McChrystal strategy has failed.
Throughout 2009, media coverage of the war was focused on plans for a new offensive strategy that promised to turn the war around. But Thursday's double dose of bad news suggests a cascade of news stories to come that will reinforce the conclusion that the war is futile.
That in turn could lead to what might be an "Iraq 2006 moment" – the swift unraveling of political support for the war on the part of the elected and unelected political elite, as occurred in the Iraq War in the second half of 2006. The collapse of elite political support for the Iraq War followed months of coverage of sectarian violence showing the U.S. military had lost control of the war.
McChrystal is still hoping, however, to be given much more time to change the attitudes of the population in Helmand and Kandahar.
Chandrasekaran quoted "a senior U.S. military official in Afghanistan" - the term often used for McChrystal himself - as saying, "We're on an Afghan timetable, and the Afghan timetable is not the American timetable." The official added, "And that is the crux of the problem."
McChrystal and his boss, CENTCOM chief Gen. David Petraeus, may now be counting on pressure from the Republican Party to force President Barack Obama to reverse his present position that withdrawal of U.S. troops will begin next year.
That was the view expressed Thursday by retired Army lieutenant colonel and former Petraeus aide John Nagl, a leading specialist on counterinsurgency who is now president of the Centre for a New American Security.
After the organisation's annual conference, Nagle told IPS that Obama will have to shift policy next year to give more time to McChrystal, because he would otherwise be too vulnerable to Republican attacks on his Afghanistan policy going into the 2012 election campaign.
The 2001 bombing and invasion of Afghanistan has been presented to World public opinion as a "Just War", a war directed against the Taliban and Al Qaeda, a war to eliminate "Islamic terrorism" and instate Western style democracy.
The economic dimensions of the "Global War on Terrorism" (GWOT) are rarely mentioned. The post 9/11 "counter-terrorism campaign" has served to obfuscate the real objectives of the US-NATO war.
The war on Afghanistan is part of a profit driven agenda: a war of economic conquest and plunder, "a resource war".
While Afghanistan is acknowledged as a strategic hub in Central Asia, bordering on the former Soviet Union, China and Iran, at the crossroads of pipeline routes and major oil and gas reserves, its huge mineral wealth as well as its untapped natural gas reserves have remained, until June 2010, totally unknown to the American public.
According to a joint report by the Pentagon, the US Geological Survey (USGS) and USAID, Afghanistan is now said to possess "previously unknown" and untapped mineral reserves, estimated authoritatively to be of the order of one trillion dollars (New York Times, U.S. Identifies Vast Mineral Riches in Afghanistan - NYTimes.com, June 14, 2010, See also BBC, 14 June 2010).
"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, the United States officials believe.
An internal Pentagon memo, for example, states that Afghanistan could become the “Saudi Arabia of lithium,” a key raw material in the manufacture of batteries for laptops and BlackBerrys.
The vast scale of Afghanistan’s mineral wealth was discovered by a small team of Pentagon officials and American geologists. The Afghan government and President Hamid Karzai were recently briefed, American officials said.
While it could take many years to develop a mining industry, the potential is so great that officials and executives in the industry believe it could attract heavy investment even before mines are profitable, providing the possibility of jobs that could distract from generations of war.
“There is stunning potential here,” Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of the United States Central Command, said... “There are a lot of ifs, of course, but I think potentially it is hugely significant.”
The value of the newly discovered mineral deposits dwarfs the size of Afghanistan’s existing war-bedraggled economy, which is based largely on opium production and narcotics trafficking as well as aid from the United States and other industrialized countries. Afghanistan’s gross domestic product is only about $12 billion.
“This will become the backbone of the Afghan economy,” said Jalil Jumriany, an adviser to the Afghan minister of mines. (New York Times, op. cit.)
Afghanistan could become, according to The New York Times "the Saudi Arabia of lithium". "Lithium is an increasingly vital resource, used in batteries for everything from mobile phones to laptops and key to the future of the electric car." At present Chile, Australia, China and Argentina are the main suppliers of lithium to the world market. Bolivia and Chile are the countries with the largest known reserves of lithium. "The Pentagon has been conducting ground surveys in western Afghanistan. "Pentagon officials said that their initial analysis at one location in Ghazni province showed the potential for lithium deposits as large as those of Bolivia" (U.S. Identifies Vast Mineral Riches in Afghanistan - NYTimes.com, June 14, 2010, see also Lithium - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)
"Previously Unknown Deposits" of Minerals in Afghanistan
The Pentagon's near one trillion dollar "estimate" of previously "unknown deposits" is a useful smokescreen. The Pentagon one trillion dollar figure is more a trumped up number rather than an estimate: “We took a look at what we knew to be there, and asked what would it be worth now in terms of today’s dollars. The trillion dollar figure seemed to be newsworthy.” (The Sunday Times, London, June 15 2010, emphasis added)
Moreover, the results of a US Geological Survey study (quoted in the Pentagon memo) on Afghanistan's mineral wealth were revealed three years back, at a 2007 Conference organized by the Afghan-American Chamber of Commerce. The matter of Afghanistan's mineral riches, however, was not considered newsworthy at the time.
The US Administration's acknowledgment that it first took cognizance of Afghanistan's vast mineral wealth following the release of the USGS 2007 report is an obvious red herring. Afghanistan's mineral wealth and energy resources (including natural gas) were known to both America's business elites and the US government prior to the Soviet-Afghan war (1979-1988).
Geological surveys conducted by the Soviet Union in the 1970s and early 1980s confirm the existence of vast reserves of copper (among the largest in Eurasia), iron, high grade chrome ore, uranium, beryl, barite, lead, zinc, fluorspar, bauxite, lithium, tantalum, emeralds, gold and silver.(Afghanistan, Mining Annual Review, The Mining Journal, June, 1984). These surveys suggest that the actual value of these reserves could indeed be substantially larger than the one trillion dollars "estimate" intimated by the Pentagon-USCG-USAID study.
More recently, in a 2002 report, the Kremlin confirmed what was already known: "It's no secret that Afghanistan possesses rich reserves, in particular of copper at the Aynak deposit, iron ore in Khojagek, uranium, polymetalic ore, oil and gas," (RIA Novosti, January 6, 2002):
"Afghanistan has never been anyone's colony - no foreigner had ever "dug" here before the 1950s. The Hindu Kush mountains, stretching, together with their foothills, over a vast area in Afghanistan, are where the minerals lie. Over the past 40 years, several dozen deposits have been discovered in Afghanistan, and most of these discoveries were sensational. They were kept secret, however, but even so certain facts have recently become known.
It turns out that Afghanistan possesses reserves of nonferrous and ferrous metals and precious stones, and, if exploited, they would possibly be able to cover even the earnings from the drug industry. The copper deposit in Aynak in the southern Afghan Helmand Province is said to be the largest in the Eurasian continent, and its location (40 km from Kabul) makes it cheap to develop. The iron ore deposit at Hajigak in the central Bamian Province yields ore of an extraordinarily high quality, the reserves of which are estimated to be 500m tonnes. A coal deposit has also been discovered not far from there.
Afghanistan is spoken of as a transit country for oil and gas. However, only a very few people know that Soviet specialists discovered huge gas reserves there in the 1960s and built the first gas pipeline in the country to supply gas to Uzbekistan. At that time, the Soviet Union used to receive 2.5 bn cubic metres of Afghan gas annually. During the same period, large deposits of gold, fluorite, barytes and marble onyxes that have a very rare pattern were found.
However, the pegmatite fields discovered to the east of Kabul are a real sensation. Rubies, beryllium, emeralds and kunzites and hiddenites that cannot be found anywhere else - the deposits of these precious stones stretch for hundreds of kilometres. Also, the rocks containing the rare metals beryllium, thorium, lithium and tantalum are of strategic importance (they are used in air and spacecraft construction).
The war is worth waging. ... (Olga Borisova, "Afghanistan - the Emerald Country", Karavan, Almaty, original Russian, translated by BBC News Services, Apr 26, 2002. p. 10, emphasis added.)
While public opinion was fed images of a war torn resourceless developing country, the realities are otherwise: Afghanstan is a rich country as confirmed by Soviet era geological surveys.
The issue of "previously unknown deposits" sustains a falsehood. It excludes Afghanstan's vast mineral wealth as a justifiable casus belli. It says that the Pentagon only recently became aware that Afghanistan was among the World's most wealthy mineral economies, comparable to The Democratic Republic of the Congo or former Zaire of the Mobutu era. The Soviet geopolitical reports were known. During the Cold War, all this information was known in minute detail:
... Extensive Soviet exploration produced superb geological maps and reports that listed more than 1,400 mineral outcroppings, along with about 70 commercially viable deposits ... The Soviet Union subsequently committed more than $650 million for resource exploration and development in Afghanistan, with proposed projects including an oil refinery capable of producing a half-million tons per annum, as well as a smelting complex for the Ainak deposit that was to have produced 1.5 million tons of copper per year. In the wake of the Soviet withdrawal a subsequent World Bank analysis projected that the Ainak copper production alone could eventually capture as much as 2 percent of the annual world market. The country is also blessed with massive coal deposits, one of which, the Hajigak iron deposit, in the Hindu Kush mountain range west of Kabul, is assessed as one of the largest high-grade deposits in the world. (John C. K. Daly, Analysis: Afghanistan's untapped energy, UPI Energy, October 24, 2008, emphasis added)
Afghanistan's Natural Gas
Afghanistan is a land bridge. The 2001 U.S. led invasion and occupation of Afghanistan has been analysed by critics of US foreign policy as a means to securing control over the strategic trans-Afghan transport corridor which links the Caspian sea basin to the Arabian sea.
Several trans-Afghan oil and gas pipeline projects have been contemplated including the planned $8.0 billion TAPI pipeline project (Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India) of 1900 km., which would transport Turkmen natural gas across Afghanistan in what is described as a "crucial transit corridor". (See Gary Olson, Afghanistan has never been the 'good and necessary' war; it's about control of oil, The Morning Call, October 1, 2009). Military escalation under the extended Af-Pak war bears a relationship to TAPI. Turkmenistan possesses third largest natural gas reserves after Russia and Iran. Strategic control over the transport routes out of Turkmenistan have been part of Washington's agenda since the collapse of the Soviet union in 1991.
What was rarely contemplated in pipeline geopolitics, however, is that Afghanistan is not only adjacent to countries which are rich in oil and natural gas (e.g Turkmenistan), it also possesses within its territory sizeable untapped reserves of natural gas, coal and oil. Soviet estimates of the 1970s placed "Afghanistan's 'explored' (proved plus probable) gas reserves at about 5 trillion cubic feet. The Hodja-Gugerdag's initial reserves were placed at slightly more than 2 tcf." (See, The Soviet Union to retain influence in Afghanistan, Oil & Gas Journal, May 2, 1988).
The US.Energy Information Administration (EIA) acknowledged in 2008 that Afghanistan's natural gas reserves are "substantial":
"As northern Afghanistan is a 'southward extension of Central Asia's highly prolific, natural gas-prone Amu Darya Basin,' Afghanistan 'has proven, probable and possible natural gas reserves of about 5 trillion cubic feet.' (UPI, John C.K. Daly, Analysis: Afghanistan's untapped energy, October 24, 2008)
From the outset of the Soviet-Afghan war in 1979, Washington's objective has been to sustain a geopolitical foothold in Central Asia.
The Golden Crescent Drug Trade
America's covert war, namely its support to the Mujahideen "Freedom fighters" (aka Al Qaeda) was also geared towards the development of the Golden Crescent trade in opiates, which was used by US intelligence to fund the insurgency directed against the Soviets.1
Instated at the outset of the Soviet-Afghan war and protected by the CIA, the drug trade developed over the years into a highly lucrative multibillion undertaking. It was the cornerstone of America's covert war in the 1980s. Today, under US-NATO military occupation, the drug trade generates cash earnings in Western markets in excess of $200 billion dollars a year. (See Michel Chossudovsky, America's War on Terrorism, Global Research, Montreal, 2005, see also Michel Chossudovsky, Heroin is "Good for Your Health": Occupation Forces support Afghan Narcotics Trade, Global Research, April 29, 2007)
Towards an Economy of Plunder
The US media, in chorus, has upheld the "recent discovery" of Afghanistan's mineral wealth as "a solution" to the development of the country's war torn economy as well as a means to eliminating poverty. The 2001 US-NATO invasion and occupation has set the stage for their appropriation by Western mining and energy conglomerates.
The war on Afghanistan is a profit driven "resource war".
Under US and allied occupation, this mineral wealth is slated to be plundered, once the country has been pacified, by a handful of multinational mining conglomerates. According to Olga Borisova, writing in the months following the October 2001 invasion, the US-led "war on terrorism [will be transformed] into a colonial policy of influencing a fabulously wealthy country." (Borisova, op cit).
Part of the US-NATO agenda is also to eventually take possession of Afghanistan's reserves of natural gas, as well as prevent the development of competing Russian, Iranian and Chinese energy interests in Afghanistan.
1. The Golden Crescent trade in opiates constitutes, at present, the centerpiece of Afghanistan's export economy. The heroin trade, instated at the outset of the Soviet-Afghan war in 1979 and protected by the CIA, generates cash earnings in Western markets in excess of $200 billion dollars a year. Since the 2001 invasion, narcotics production in Afghanistan has increased more than 35 times. In 2009, opium production stood at 6900 tons, compared to less than 200 tons in 2001. In this regard, the multibillion dollar earnings resulting from the Afghan opium production largely occur outside Afghanistan. According to United Nations data, the revenues of the drug trade accruing to the local economy are of the order of 2-3 billion annually. In contrast with the Worldwide sales of heroin resultring from the trade in Afghan opiates, in excess of $200 billion. (See Michel Chossudovsky, America's War on Terrorism", Global Research, Montreal, 2005)