General Question

windex's avatar

How long has the U.S. known about the masstive mineral deposits in Afghanistan?

Asked by windex (2926points) June 16th, 2011

Maybe this information is so top secret that we’ll never find out. But I just thought one of the smart jellys might know.

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17 Answers

obvek's avatar

My experience was reading about this 6–12 months ago. Other reading I did at that time talked about how this “discovery” is as old as the British occupation of Afghanistan. I see the recent hubbub merely as PR to offset public discontent over the wartime budget.

tedd's avatar

Meh…. I’m guessing you’re suggesting or wondering/asking if the government may have known about these deposits before our initial invasion of Afghanistan, or sometime shortly thereafter…. and we either went in, or stayed as long as we have, thanks to said mineral deposits.

But if I’m not mistaken the deposits only total several billion dollars worth, hardly worth the money we’ve thrown into the country…. especially considering it doesn’t even look like the country will stay stable after we leave.

flutherother's avatar

The Soviets knew about it even before their invasion of the country in 1979.

Qingu's avatar

Here’s the article:

It’s not clear when exactly “The United States” first became aware. The article suggests that some American geologists may have had some idea, in 2004—based in part by old Soviet surveys of the area. In 2006, Americans started doing aerial surveys based on that information.

windex's avatar

Thanks everyone.
@flutherother Would you happen to know where I can find an article on that?

flutherother's avatar

Well there is this but I am sure there must be lots of other sources.

Linda_Owl's avatar

The US government has known about the vast mineral wealth in Afghanistan for a very long time & the US invasion was simply waiting for the “proper time & circumstances” to ‘happen’. You should try reading any of the books by Michel Chossudovsky. Mr. Chossudovsky is a Professor of Economics at the University of Ottawa & also the Director of the Center for Research on Globalization. Try reading his “Globalization of Poverty”, or “War and Globalization”. If you read either of these, you will have a much greater understanding of when & what the US government knows/has known. His books give you ample information & how to find the sources from which the information came so you can do your own research.

Qingu's avatar

@Linda_Owl, are you suggesting that the US invaded Afghanistan simply to steal its somewhat precious but largely unexactractable mineral wealth?

Russell_D_SpacePoet's avatar

I would imagine we had a pretty good idea before we ever put boots on the ground.

Qingu's avatar

If we had some idea you’d think we would have made, you know, more than ZERO effort over the past 10 years to actually extract this mineral wealth.

Russell_D_SpacePoet's avatar

@Qingu I think they they knew we would be there for a while. Even when we pull out, we will still be there. Besides the fact, if we didn’t know, why was the army looking for minerals? That is not generally in their job description I don’t believe.

bkcunningham's avatar

Here is a 2007 article from the USGS that gives some more details:

And additional info if you are interested:

Qingu's avatar

1. The Army technically didn’t find them, geologists did.

2. Our mission there has always verged on nation building, so it’s not really surprising that our military presence there would support surveys that could help build up the country’s wealth and infrastructure.

Linda_Owl's avatar

Do you think, Qinqu, that the military does not include geologists? If this is what you think, then you are mistaken. The US is not “into” nation building, but we have a long history of imperialism in that we tend to take out governments that do not welcome our intrusion into their affairs, & replace them with governments that are willing to do whatever the US wants so long as they get to remain in power. We will never be totally out of Afghanistan, any more than we will ever be totally out of Iraq. Our military used to be a relatively honorable profession, but now the young people in the military have been sold a bill of goods & are facilitating our expansion at the cost of their own lives & bodies, & the untold suffering of the people in these countries. And now we are also “assisting” in Libya (which, of course, has oil).

Qingu's avatar

I don’t disagree with your assessment of America’s imperialist tendencies, but I think it’s naive and simplistic to reduce those tendencies to a mere desire to extract resources from other countries. There are several reasons we are in Afghanistan, of varying moral justification—but I doubt the existence of mineral wealth is one of them. There’s no evidence whatsoever that Bush admin even knew about the minerals when they decided to invade. The invasion was clearly a direct response to 9/11. And as far as our continuing presence there, ask yourself if we’d still be there if there weren’t any minerals (the answer is yes).

As for the military once being more honorable than today, I just think that’s a load of horseshit. You can argue that World War 2 was fought for more honorable reasons, and I’d agree. But our military firebombed civilian centers and killed hundreds of thousands, probably millions, of innocent people in that war. In Vietnam, our military’s rules of engagement allowed them to dump napalm on villages; we killed perhaps 3 million innocent Vietnamese civilians in that war. Talk about honorable.

I was completely opposed to the Iraq War, and I think Bush’s handling of the Afghanistan war has been utterly abysmal. But compare the number of civilians killed by our military in these conflicts to earlier ones. I don’t see a decline in military honor, I see a military slowly but surely getting more careful about excessive use of force—though they still have a long way to go.

flutherother's avatar

Afghanistan mineral deposits weren’t relevant when the decision was made to invade the country. The Taliban regime at the time was supporting the people who planned 9/11 and so it had to be removed. Those deposits are becoming increasingly significant as the world depletes its raw materials and I wouldn’t be surprised if they now feature in discussions with the President of Afganistan.

dabbler's avatar

If we’d taken the money we spent there on military operations and instead just gave them stuff like wells and schools and electricity they might be happy to talk about scraping it out of the ground for us.

As it is they are mad at us now.

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