Now that American forces in Afghanistan are commemorating the longest period of any war that America has been involved in, including the 1965-73 Vietnam War, the recent discoveries of large and extremely valuable mineral and metal deposits may finally bring to light a reason to continue the presence of US fighting forces in this war torn and backward country.
As we pointed out in the Afghan lithium piece top US Government officials are estimating that these mineral deposits may be worth between $1 and 3 trillion USD, and that they may change the market of electric cars.
The minerals include iron ore, copper, cobalt, gold and what may be the world’s largest deposits of lithium; a metal used to produce the new long-life batteries that are used in everything from digital cameras and cell phones to hybrid and electric cars.
The lithium ion batteries that will provide the power for the new generation of electric cars have been noted many times on Green Prophet; especially those being developed by Israeli entrepreneur Shai Agassi and his Better Place Company, where I recently took a test drive at their Tel Aviv education center.
Finding this immense potential mineral wealth in a backward country, where the main source of income still comes from growing opium poppies, makes one wonder just how large scale mining operations are going to be established in a country still partially under the control of the ultra conservative and fanatical Taliban; as well as by numerous warlords who wield control of remote tribal regions where much of this new-found mineral wealth is said to be located.
Mineral wealth, remote tribal areas – doesn’t this remind you of the recent hit Hollywood movie, Avatar, where a futuristic need for a rare energy producing mineral unobtainiumis being mined on a far away moon named Pandora, which is inhabited by an indigenous tribal people called Navis?
Mind you, this is certainly not the first time that exploitation of “primitive” and “savage” people has been done in order to acquire what they claim is rightfully theirs. This has been going on virtually since civilization began, and is still occurring in many parts of the world, including the Amazon rain forests of Brazil, and numerous other locations in Asia, Africa, and elsewhere.
Afghanistan is a far cry from Pandora; and the various indigenous Afghan tribes in no way resemble the cat-faced and tailed Navis.
The idea is similar, however, and it doesn’t take a big twist of the imagination to figure out that maintaining a substantial military force in Afghanistan bears a similar resemblance to the Avatar movie, where Space Marines are sent to provide security for the mining company employees who are working on Pandora.
And while large quantities of lithium and other minerals may not be present in the ground under the “Tree of Life” that the Navis in Avatar called home, it probably is present in areas where tribal villages will have to be “relocated” in order for the mining companies to come and extract these minerals.
Prior to these mineral discoveries being made public, the US Presidential Administration had announced a time table to begin pulling troops out of Afghanistan in the summer of 2011 – just one year from now.
How these mineral discoveries will affect these plans is too early to tell. Even if the mining operations do eventually get under way, it probably won’t require large numbers of US and other foreign military forces to provide security for these mining companies as “deals” will undoubtedly be made with various tribal warlords, and even with the Taliban themselves, who already have a big stake in the illicit opium growing and processing operations.
And one more thing; you can forget about young mining company or security personnel falling in love with indigenous Afghan women, as what occurred in Avatar. This rarely happens in a country where women have to abide by the strictest of Sharia Islamic Law and must go about covered from head to toe in traditional burqa garb.
For my part, I’d rather go to Pandora.
Read more about environmental exploitation:
Dumping by Construction Crews is Killing Bahrain Coral
Who’s Testing Environmental Impact of Drilling for Oil at the Dead Sea?
Iran Needs a “Green Revolution” in More Ways Than One