Timing of Afghan Mineral Story Wealth Evokes Skepticism
by Jim Lobe, June 15, 2010
The timing of the publication of a major New York Times story on the vast untapped mineral wealth that lies beneath Afghanistan’s soil is raising major questions about the intent of the Pentagon, which released the information.
Given the increasingly negative news that has come out of Afghanistan – and of U.S. strategy there – some analysts believe the front-page article is designed to reverse growing public sentiment that the war is not worth the cost.
“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?” wrote Marc Ambinder, the political editor of The Atlantic magazine, on his blog.
The nearly 1,500-word article, based almost entirely on Pentagon sources and featured as the lead story in Monday’s “Early Bird,” a compilation of major national security stories that the Pentagon distributes each morning, asserted that Afghanistan may have close to $1 trillion in untapped mineral deposits. These include “huge veins of iron, copper, cobalt, gold, and critical industrial metals like lithium,” the story said.
Afghanistan’s total annual gross domestic product (GDP) last year came to about $13 billion.