I kept having to check the date on this article
to make sure it wasn’t published April 1.
The gist of it is that the US government say they discovered about a Trillion dollars worth of mineral deposits in Afghanistan. There is so much valuable minerals there that Afghanistan could turn into the biggest mining center in the world.
On some level, I suppose this shouldn’t be entirely unexpected. Afghanistan is, on one level, just a bunch of rocks, so it shouldn’t be too surprising that some of them are valuable.
What’s worrysome is how the US government seems to be reacting to this find. They seem to be under the impression that money, for lack of a better word, is good, money is right, and that money will solve all your problems, whatever they might be. They act as if winning the lottery is a guaranteed good thing.
And I just thought I’d point out that about a third of all lottery winners declare bankruptcy within five years.
I’d also point out that one country famous for its mineral deposits is South Africa and much of those riches helped keep the unjust apartheid system in place there. The Shah ruled Iran from 1953 to 1979 while his country was one of the biggest oil producers in the world. The Shah’s government was also considered one of the most cruel governments in the world. His secret police snatched people off the street and might torture a person for years without any kind of due process.
Meanwhile power in Afghanistan is currently split between a weak and ineffectual central government that may very well win the award for “Most Corrupt 2001-2011″ on one side, numerous local warlords who make all their money growing opium on another side, and a group of religiously motivated war lords also known as the Taliban on the third side.
Throw a trillion dollar lottery ticket into that totally dysfunctional family and, really, what could possibly go wrong?
There are two main problems associated with the central government in Afghanistan: It is totally corrupt and it is totally useless.
One of the reasons the locals do not support the central government is simply because supporting the central government offers them nothing in return. The government is too poor and ineffectual to provide infrastructure like roads, schools, medical care, what have you. And on top of that, the central government is corrupt, so supporting them means you’ve got to support a corrupt system. So most locals just keep to their own.
A trillion dollar lottery ticket could change at least one part of the dynamic. It could give the central government enough cash that they could start paying for infrastructure throughout the rest of the country. Roads. Schools. Hospitals. Water. What have you.
The problem though is that for that to happen, you’ve got to get rid of the corruption in the central government. If you don’t, what’s more likely to happen is that the locals will see a corrupt central government taking an unfair piece of the pie to enrich themselves, and the locals might just decide to try and take it back.
Before, there really wasn’t anything to fight over. Most warlords simply wanted to maintain whatever power they had, and they funded their military by growing opium.
Now, there’s a huge chunk of money to fight over, and apparently its spread throughought several different regions of Afghanistan, meaning the locals aren’t going to be too happy if they see the central government come in, take all their minerals and keep the money for themselves.
At which point, the warlords might decide there’s something worth fighting over.
I would hope that the US government sees that giving a Trillion dollar lottery ticket to such a dysfunctional family as Afghanistan may only make things much worse.
And since the central government is seen as a puppet of the US, any abuses and misuses committed by the central government over this money will be seen as abuse and misuse by the US.
We can either let a corrupt government abuse its power and take all the wealth for itself while screwing the locals and possibly have an Afghanistan Revolution like the Iranian Revolution of 1979 that overthrew the Shah, or we can clean up our puppet government in Afghanistan and maybe, just maybe, this wealth will transform Afghanistan into a peaceful family.