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« 3 QD Science Prizes | Main | "The Chinese Cemetery" »

June 23, 2010


Have current developments and technologies made it any more easy to logistically transport the 'mined treasure' out of the region? Has the US military infrastructure with gazillion daily flights in and out now provided an efficient route for them?
This would imply that the US will remain in Afghanistan for years to come, with American companies jostling with the Chinese and others to set up and exploit the 'mineral riches' that were considered unprofitable to extract and transport 30 years ago.

I think this is a much bigger political minefield than it is an economic one. I wonder what Petraeus means by "stunning potential" though. Economic potential for countries that come in or potential for the development of Afghanistan? But I wonder who is going to swoop in and fund it? Maybe The Good Club?

Yes, this dynamic of resource-rich countries getting looted is very sad. Isn't that why they call "black gold" a curse?

Are there any historical examples of outside countries going in and "helping" a country extract and exploit its natural resources and actually engaging in non-harmful nation-building? Having commercially valuable rubber and ivory didn't do much good for the Congo.

Joe, I can't think of any. In fact, a politically and culturally bedraggled nation with rich natural resources has historically been like a mouse before a hawk.

Neither can I.

I wish I could convince myself that one reason to be optimistic, at least, is the Afghan situation -- the importance of nation-building and prosperity due to the widely recognized centrality of Afghanistan to the "war on terror." But even though Afghanistan is distinguishable in this regard, the way we've gone about trying to combat terrorism over the past nine years makes pretty clear that military policy makers don't take seriously that approach.

May we hope for another Guano Islands Act ?

That is hilarious, Narayan but also apt. I bet, by stirring up enough tensions among the Karzai govt., the Taliban and the northern Afghanistan tribes, the US will be able to technically create zones that will qualify as

island, rock, or key, not within the lawful jurisdiction of any other Government, and not occupied by the citizens of any other Government, and takes peaceable possession thereof, and occupies the same, such island, rock, or key may, at the discretion of the President, be considered as appertaining to the United States.

And if that "rock" (in that region without "islands" or "keys") just happens to contain a rich vein of lithium, so be it.

An Afghani view, via rose-colored glasses of a brave new Afghanistan. One wonders how much of this will come to pass, or whether our dystopian views of the situation will prevail.

I donot know what the future might hold for the People Afghania .Of one thing I am sure .In the Town of Rawelpindi ,in a small basement office of the ISI (INTER SERVICES INTEL) BUILDING ,a young Captain has already been given the task to gather and analyze ways to benefit from Afghan find ,if not benefit then to disrupt and destroy any effort by any other players in the region.

This is probably done with full knowledge of the Pak Armys keepers in D.C.
seems fantastic but it is how our region operates ....

China is already in

It's not just foreign meddling, though that's a big part of it. At least going by the Arab example, being able to dig up money from the ground doesn't do much for human resource development, so to speak. Maybe that's the state-level analogue of the damage often caused by winning a lottery.

Opium was used with poison hemlock to put people quickly and painlessly to death, but it was also used in medicine. The Ebers Papyrus, ca. 1500 BCE, describes a way to "stop a crying child" using grains of the poppy-plant strained to a pulp.

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