January 8, 2013. Kabul. Throughout modern history, Mideast countries have been occupied by colonial powers that robbed them of their vast and valuable natural resources. While occupying Afghanistan, the US military hunted for and discovered $1 trillion in precious metal deposits – the largest in the world. Some now suspect the Obama administration has a secret agenda to strip the poverty-stricken nation of its mineral wealth and never end the occupation.
Pentagon map showing Afghanistan’s undiscovered precious metal deposits, possibly the largest in the world. Each square is a deposit of gold, silver, copper, cobalt, etc.
Obama’s broken promises
While campaigning for President in 2008, then Senator Obama used his unofficial opposition to the Iraq War to prove his ‘peace’ credentials over then Senator Hillary Clinton who voted to give war powers to then President George Bush. On the campaign trail, the Illinois Senator repeatedly appealed to the anti-war Democratic Party base by promising to end the wars and bring the troops home. It was one of the main reasons so many young voters and military personnel gave him their support.
As the President and his White House spokespeople now insist, the President never said he would bring home ‘all’ the troops and he never promised to end the war ‘in Afghanistan’. That legal argument may hold up in court, but the American people know he promised to end the wars, plural, as in two – Iraq and Afghanistan. They also know what it means to bring the troops home. It means all of them, not just some of them, while the rest remain behind to continue fighting.
In 2008, President Obama promised to end the wars and bring the troops home during his first term, which ended in 2012. In June 2011, he seemed to confirm his promise and announced that our troops occupying Afghanistan would finally be, “coming home”. The President went on to say, “By 2014, this process of transition will be complete and the Afghan people will be responsible for their own security.”
The new Afghanistan War strategy quietly, but officially, became an occupation strategy, an indefinite, unwanted, military occupation. White House spokesmen have since confirmed that the President’s 2011 policy shift targeting 2014 for completion made no mention of pulling out ‘all’ US combat forces from Afghanistan. The new Obama administration policy on Afghanistan is that of indefinite occupation. For the record, the 11-year war is long over and the US still has more than 66,000 troops there plus thousands of taxpayer-funded corporate mercenaries.
What could have happened mid-way through President Obama’s first term that would lead the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize to abandon his own campaign promises and make a 180-degree reversal of policy from peace to complete and total military occupation? Many suspect they know why. While occupying Afghanistan, the US military was simultaneously searching for mineral deposits and any other natural resources they could find.
Why would the US military be searching Afghanistan for energy and mineral deposits, you ask, when they’re supposed to be fighting insurgents and keeping America’s sons and daughters alive? Perhaps it’s for the same reason that President Bush never sent invading US troops to Iraq’s WMD sites, but only sent military forces to Iraq’s Ministry of Oil.
On July 30, 2012, the US Department of Defense organized a grand gala at the US Embassy in Afghanistan to make an announcement. Sharing the podium were James Bullion of the DoD’s Task Force for Business and Stability Operations, and Director of the US Geological Survey Marcia McNutt. Together, they first announced a breakthrough technology that’s been used by the US military during the Afghan occupation.
As detailed by a Defense Department release, McNutt described, ‘a new remote-sensing technology that has made it possible, for the first time, to map more than 70 percent of the country’s surface and identify potential high-value deposits of copper, gold, iron, and other minerals.’ The DoD statement goes on to confirm that the US military’s mineral-seeking operation has been going on since 2004. In 2007, NASA was brought into the project, contributing ‘long-range WB-57 aircraft to fly the USGS hyperspectral instrument over Afghanistan’. In 2009, the US military began fully funding the USGS’s work to find valuable mineral deposits.
The US ultimate goal in Afghanistan
Some are asking why the Dept. of Defense was spending so much time, energy, resources and government agencies in the effort to find treasure in Afghanistan at the same time US troops were losing the war and an average of 2 soldiers per day were finding themselves in body bags. For the record, 59 US soldiers died in Afghanistan in October 2009. Also for the record, on the last day of July 2012 when the DoD announced their $1 trillion dollar mineral discovery, 41 US troops were killed in Afghanistan. It was the deadliest month through all of 2012 for US personnel.
There’s no doubt many of the families of fallen US troops are wondering if futuristic, hyperspectral NASA resources could have saved their loved ones’ lives if they were deployed in support of our dying men and women instead of searching the Afghan mountains for gold mines. But that’s not what the Pentagon was worried about. As the DoD statement confirms, ‘In 2009, USGS and the DoD task force became partners and worked closely to help to get the hyperspectral data into a format that mining companies could use to evaluate opportunities in the mineral sector.’
Showing how eager the Dept. of Defense was to exploit the financial profits of the geological discoveries in Afghanistan, the entire July 30 gala at the US Embassy in Afghanistan was to celebrate the auction of mining rights to copper deposits in Balkhab. Bidding for the rights was opened just 6 days prior to the Embassy party organized to celebrate it. The US Geological Survey had its executives on hand, along with Pentagon and Afghani officials.
“We have identified somewhere between 10 and 12 world-class copper, gold, iron ore rare earth deposits that no one knew were there,” said the USGS Jack Medlin, regional specialist for the Asia-Pacific region, who attended the Embassy event. The DoD statement goes on to quote Medlin saying, “In our 2007 publication, we gave an estimate of undiscovered mineral resources for the country and…you can add up the tonnages of copper, lead, gold, iron, silver and so forth. But this country has many more world-class mineral deposits than most countries in the world, if not more than any country.”
The statement also reveals that Afghan forces have ‘mine protection units’ that are deployed not to fight insurgents, protect residents or defend against Taliban and al Qaeda attacks. They’re only mission is to protect the mines, mining companies and the mine’s employees. As outlined in the release, ‘A mine protection unit has 1,500 security personnel…and the Afghan government plans to increase the number of personnel to 7,000 for future mining projects’.
US vs. China over Afghanistan’s future, and their mines
To ease Afghani suspicion over America’s military control over mining operations in their country, the Afghan Ambassador to the US assured his government that, “The estimated direct revenue to be generated by royalties and taxes from the extractive industries could reach up to $1.5 billion by 2016 and exceed $3.7 billion by 2026.”
Two years before the US Defense Department confirmed the vast scale of Afghanistan’s gold, silver, copper and cobalt mines, the New York Times let the cat out of the bag by exposing the US military’s obsession with treasure hunting instead of fighting. ‘The United States has discovered nearly $1 trillion in untapped mineral deposits in Afghanistan,’ the first line of the 2010 breaking news story read.
The Times report also exposed a secret, internal Pentagon memo which states that ‘Afghanistan could become the Saudi Arabia of lithium’. Suspiciously, no mention whatsoever was made by DoD or Afghan officials at the Pentagon’s Embassy celebration and corresponding statements of lithium, or being “the Saudi Arabia of lithium”.
Showing that the US isn’t alone in its quest for control of Afghanistan’s immense mineral wealth, China was allegedly caught attempting to bribe its way into control of the country’s untapped precious metal deposits. According to the NY Times report, ‘Afghanistan’s minister of mines was accused by American officials of accepting a $30 million bribe to award China the rights to develop its copper mine. The minister has since been replaced.’
It seems the US invasion and occupation of Afghanistan wasn’t the only intuitive move the US has made in regard to the country’s sudden wealth. According to the same Times investigators, the US-backed Karzai regime, which only controls the major city of Kabul, enlisted the help of the US and the World Bank to draft a national mining law early on during the US-led occupation. Now, according to world law and enforced by the US military and its occupying forces, Karzai’s national government is laying legal claim to the vast mineral wealth over claims by provincial leaders who are supported by the Taliban.
That shows interesting foresight for an agency like the US Department of Defense at a time when they were supposed to be fighting a war and keeping US troops alive. The Times report also shines a spotlight on the shifting US military strategy in Afghanistan, ‘Instead of bringing peace, the newfound mineral wealth could lead the Taliban to battle even more fiercely to regain control of the country.’
So, while America’s sons, daughters, fathers and mothers die in Afghanistan to keep the Taliban and China from taking control of the country’s mines, does anyone even remember what the Afghan War was for? It was to kill or capture the perpetrators of the September 11 World Trade Center attacks. More curious than anything, the attackers were from Saudi Arabia, we invaded Iraq, and Osama bin Laden was found in Pakistan. And yet we’re still fighting and dying in Afghanistan? At least now we know why.
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