Heralded by General David Petraeus as news that may have "stunning potential," the New York Times reported that the "United States has discovered nearly $1 trillion in untapped mineral deposits in Afghanistan, far beyond any previously known reserve, and enough to fundamentally alter the Afghan economy and perhaps the Afghan war itself, according to senior American government officials."
One could take the story at face value and believe that this was actually, for once, a positive development in an increasingly unpopular and seemingly unnecessary war, but then "the real news" about the news came out. On the same day, after doing a bit of his own research, Paul Jay, CEO and Senior Editor of The Real News Network revealed that indeed, because "news" is supposed to be about a new development, this wasn't news at all, but merely well-timed strategic propaganda on the part of the U.S. government.
In his article titled U.S. Knew About Afghan Mineral Bonanza in 2007, Jay asks, "Did a 2007 report of massive mineral deposits in Afghanistan affect President Obama's 2009 decision to widen the scope of the Afghan war? Is a recent New York Times article omitting that possibility?"
He goes on to answer his own question, stating, "One did not need to read an "internal Pentagon memo" to find about the discovery. Just visit the public web site of the U.S. Geological Survey and read the press release titled "Significant Potential for Undiscovered Resources in Afghanistan," released 11/13/2007 at 10:00:00 AM, which declares the following:
Afghanistan has significant amounts of undiscovered non-fuel mineral resources according to the U.S. Geological Survey's 2007 assessment ... Estimates for copper and iron ore resources were found to have the most potential for extraction in Afghanistan. Scientists also found indications of abundant deposits of colored stones and gemstones, including emerald, ruby, sapphire, garnet, lapis, kunzite, spinel, tourmaline and peridot. Other examples of mineral resources available for extraction in Afghanistan include gold, mercury, sulfur, chromite, talc-magnesite, potash, graphite and sand and gravel.
So Why Dredge it Up Again Now?
Jay continues, "Why the story broke in the NYT on Monday could be linked to a desire by the Pentagon to create a reason why U.S. troops might want to stick around in Afghanistan for some time to come. Things are not going very well on the ground and the promise of vast mineral riches would sound enticing."
With the war quickly approaching its decade anniversary with no end in sight, and the Pentagon struggling to come up with a convincing rationale for why the U.S. should remain in Afghanistan into the future, this example shows just how desperate the U.S. is becoming to justify its exploits abroad, while neglecting the numerous problems it faces domestically.