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Q. What is the new definition of "Taliban"?

A. Anyone who lives above a lithium deposit

On Monday we learned something that the Pentagon has known for years: Afghanistan is sitting on a trillion dollars worth of valuable minerals.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/14/world/asia/14minerals.html?ref=world

I have literally never seen a news story more interesting than this one. I barely know where to begin. For starters, why were Americans looking for mineral resources in Afghanistan in 2007? I try so hard to NOT become a conspiracy theorist, but COME ON! Give me a frickin' chance!!!

If you're wondering when the U.S. will withdraw its forces from Afghanistan, you now have your answer: Never. Our worst case scenario is peace. If war ends in Afghanistan, some subset of the Taliban would eventually become fantastically wealthy with the help of foreign mining operations. Nothing good can come from Taliban billionaires. That's the strategic risk that will keep us there forever.

Of all the mineral riches that Afghanistan could have, why oh why did it have to include lithium? Just when I was getting all hopeful about electric cars, which require batteries, which will probably require lithium, we find out that lithium is located where the Taliban poop. What were the odds of that? It's like the plot of a poorly written movie. Meanwhile, the friendly Swiss are being completely useless and producing nothing but chocolate and lederhosen. I will only say this once: I CAN'T RUN MY CAR ON CHOCOLATE!

Strategy-wise, these valuable deposits in Afghanistan are a major problem for U.S. defense. It makes leaving impossible and staying even harder. Any sense of military legitimacy will soon be smothered by talk of economics. If there's one argument that you can be sure will never fly with the American voting public, it goes like this: "Those vast mineral deposits are a total coincidence."

The moral questions in Afghanistan are fascinating. If a country harbors terrorists that attack your country, creating the necessity of invasion at great expense, do you get to keep some of the minerals you find? Or is it fairer that some goat herder or war lord who happens to live above a copper deposit by pure chance gets to become a billionaire while his neighbors starve? Is it moral to establish a thoroughly corrupt Afghan government, which might be the only kind possible, and then leave? I contend that all paths are thoroughly immoral.

If every option is equally immoral, maybe the next filter should be practicality. I say we turn Afghanistan into a corporation, with all of the citizens owning equal shares after the U.S. Treasury carves out its 25% stake of preferred stock. Our military would stay there in a paid security arrangement, transitioning over time to a private operation. The corporate bylaws would require American security personnel for at least 100 years. Sort of like the Swiss Guard and the Vatican.

Afghanistan might never work as a country, but maybe it could work as a corporation. Arguably, the corporate model is what makes China work so well. The Chinese Communist Party reminds me of a corporate structure, where the CEO serves at the pleasure of the board of directors, and building wealth is the main goal. In China, the head guy doesn't have dictator powers. He serves at the pleasure of the Communist Party leaders, and he needs to perform well or they replace him. Some version of that model would probably work a lot better than democracy for Afghanistan.

Yes, I do realize that nothing I write in this blog is factually accurate or remotely practical. Thank you in advance for pointing that out.

 
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Dec 23, 2010
Y'know, that could actually work - but where would it be, nationally speaking? Other countries could simply declare it a vassal state, since it isn't in any country. And what about taxes?!
 
 
Jul 6, 2010
I live in China, and conversations similar too (though much more flippant than) the above happen quite often here.

For example, I was chatting with two of the richest people in Israel (I'm a journalist so that happens sometimes):

Rich person 1: I hear that China might invade North Korea, and set that whole country straight.
Me: Yea, I hear the army is fed up, but I don't think its going to happen.
Rich Person 2: China should invade Israel, we need straightening out.

And on this exact subject:

Friend of mine: You know maybe these minerals are a good thing, because China will go in there and straighten everything out. America can't commit war crimes, but China doesn't care.

Luckily none of the things said in any of those conversations had anything to do with reality, just a sense of how fed up everyone is.
 
 
Jul 6, 2010
I live in China, and conversations similar too (though much more flippant than) the above happen quite often here.

For example, I was chatting with two of the richest people in Israel (I'm a journalist so that happens sometimes):

Rich person 1: I hear that China might invade North Korea, and set that whole country straight.
Me: Yea, I hear the army is fed up, but I don't think its going to happen.
Rich Person 2: They should do that in Israel.

And on this exact subject:

Friend of mine: You know maybe these minerals are a good thing, because China will go in there and straighten everything out. America can't commit war crimes, but China doesn't care.

Luckily none of the things said in any of those conversations had anything to do with reality, just a sense of how fed up everyone is.
 
 
0 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 20, 2010
Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power.
Benito Mussolini
 
 
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 19, 2010
Nobody has ever liked hearing this, but some evidence says the Taliban had nothing to do with 9-11. One day my newspaper said the Taliban wanted the paper work on who did 9-11 so they could be shipped out. The next day was about Bush bombing them. Years later I read a writer for the Wall St. Jon. saying they had a office over looking OBL's people, and the laptop they all used. After the start of the bombing they paid a thief to steal the laptop and bought all the laptops for sale in town. They found OBL's people were fearful of the Taliban finding out too much and putting them out of Afghanistan or worse. The Taliban found them to be big pains and the 9-11ers looked down on the Taliban. Is there prove the Taliban knew anything about 9-11. Not that I've seen. It's the same pre-war Iraqi bs. If, and I say if. there is anything going on there, the gang that started this mess hasn't the brains to pull it off.
 
 
Jun 18, 2010
Talibans sitting on lithium or any other deposits is analogous to middle easterners sitting on top of oil deposits.

Saudi Arabia was established by the British following WWl to assure England of having oil. Iran was set up by the U.S. who supported the Shah for the same reason.
 
 
Jun 17, 2010
I say bleed 'em dry. They did things. Those things had consequences. Just to be nice, we can take a lot of the money we make from those minerals and rebuild schools and hospitals for Afghanistan. Besides that, we keep every bit of all the money we can scrape from that damn country.
 
 
Jun 17, 2010
come on guys this is the US we're talking about here, they are probably looking for all this lithium in the wrong country. How am i expected to believe that Afgans are sitting on a zillion dollars of lithium whent the Pentagon couldnt find America on a map of America.

Hey anyone seen Osama lately... what ... too soon???

~ on a more serious note, what ever the armies, (of all nations) were sent to afgan / iraq to do, The Boys and Girls that put their lives on the line for us, on a daily basis, deserve serious recognition. I know i wouldnt want to be out there.

 
 
+3 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 17, 2010
And the Canadian west is sitting on trillions of dollars of oil, except that it's all mixed up with sand and crap and therefore costs too much to extract. The price of oil would have to top $100/barrel before it was economically viable to tap the oil sands. Mineral wealth doesn't mean anything if it can't be mined cost-effectively. I suspect that mining lithium in Afghanistan would have huge issues for security and transport at the very least. Diamonds or gold might be worthwhile, but lithium is too cheap to bother with.

Wait...don't they use lithium to treat depression?
 
 
Jun 17, 2010
Hey Scott, the actual definition of Taliban is "Two students". I know because I'm an Arabic Linguist currently serving in Iraq.

First of all, I just wanted to say that our government is not perfect and I too believe that they very often don't have the American public's best interests at heart, but it's still the best thing going. Most Americans couldn't possibly believe the level of corruption that exist in the middle eastern governments, armies, and police forces. It's beyond our comprehension because we have the freedom to monitor our government, voice our concerns, and vote the rascals out if we have the notion. Democracy in these countries to the common man is a mystery of gargantuan proportions. It's the soldier who is explaining this to the masses.

Everyone I speak too has one comment and one question.

The comment is that the American soldiers are so different from what the people expected. They thought we'd be the drug-addled, corrupt, Paris Hilton types they saw on TV. They've come to love and respect us here, and if the liberals want to paint us as rapists and bullies, they should see how the children flock to our armored vehicles fearlessly, as if they were chasing an ice-cream truck.

The question; how can I become an American citizen/how do I get a visa/how can I go to America. Different forms, same question. How can I get what you've got?

Our presence in the Middle East is having a profound effect and the men and women of our armed forces are leading the way... as always.

As far as the mineral wealth of Afganistan, the locals won't be able to do it themselves. They will require outside companies and experts to mine they're wealth and the outsiders will bring with them new ideas and modern techniques. The current bosses who try to stand in the way of foreign influence, will find that the majority of Afganis want a better life and will fight for it. God willing, Afganistan will become a new creature, rising out of the war-torn ashes of its past.

What can I say, I'm an optimist.

Scott, one last thing. I love your strip because I've worked with all of the characters, but I don't see one very important one. How about the worker, who drops everything and leaves his family to go to a foreign country to fight for what he believes in. The optimist, the unbreakable rock, the man who does what's right, because it's right. Guardbert.
 
 
+3 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 17, 2010
Actually, you *can* run a car on chocolate: http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/newsandevents/pressreleases/racing_car/

The only presumption is that there is unconsumed chocolate to spare.
 
 
+10 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 16, 2010
As far as Lithium goes, Chile and Bolivia currently possess almost 80% of the world lithium reserves and Bolivia hasn't even bothered to start mining their deposits yet. Even if we figured out fusion power (which requires lithium in the reactors) and demand suddenly skyrocketed to 300% of the current production rate, it would be decades before we could exhaust current reserves enough for us to even consider starting a mining operation in a country that can't even guarantee whether a lamppost will still be standing there next week.

Unless the US decides to start installing nationalist nut-jobs in Latin American governments again, it will be a long time before lithium demand gets anywhere close to the political significance of oil.

Oh and does anyone realize that lithium batteries (along with almost any mineral) are recyclable?
 
 
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 16, 2010
Arguably, a parliamentary system resembles a corporation. The MPs are the board, and the Prime Minister serves at Parliament's pleasure. The goal of the government is, ideally, the will of the people, as it is communicated to the MPs. Similiarly, a corporation doesn't necessarily have to be structured around creating wealth, they just mostly are because that's how things worked out. Craigslist is a corporation though, and there's tons of stuff they could do to create more wealth, but don't.

I think the corporation idea is not bad actually, so long as the corporation just owns the resources and isn't the entire government. You could even justify giving the US some share by saying they'll help more sure it's managed properly, and the other shares belong to Afghan citizens.

I'm thinking of something like this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alaska_Permanent_Fund
 
 
0 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 16, 2010
Arguably, a parliamentary system resembles a corporation. The MPs are the board, and the Prime Minister serves at Parliament's pleasure. The goal of the government is, ideally, the will of the people, as it is communicated to the MPs. Similiarly, a corporation doesn't necessarily have to be structured around creating wealth, they just mostly are because that's how things worked out. Craigslist is a corporation though, and there's tons of stuff they could do to create more wealth, but don't.

I think the corporation idea is not bad actually, so long as the corporation just owns the resources and isn't the entire government. You could even justify giving the US some share by saying they'll help more sure it's managed properly, and the other shares belong to Afghan citizens.

I'm thinking of something like this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alaska_Permanent_Fund
 
 
Jun 16, 2010
Darren re: Hey Barney, stick to teaching the ABCs, or sewing your dinosaur costume... if you honestly think that because Joe Taxpayer has not seen one cent out of the war in Afghanistan, that this also means US interests have not made significant hand-over-fist style profits out of the whole affair, you're the one who is naive.

That was not the point. The point was whether we were going to benefit from the mineral deposits, and that is highly highly doubtful.
 
 
Jun 16, 2010
!$%*!$%*!$%* it. China actually has a boarder with Afghanistan, China needs the lithium and all that other good stuff, and Chinese companies have no qualms about using bribery (aka SOP) to get what they want. They could care less about 911, Christian v Muslim and all that. Money talks even to a bunch of venal losers like they have running Afghanistan, Taliban or "Pro Western".

I don't see any cautious Board of Directors in the USA putting big bucks into a hell hole like Afghanistan, but Chinese companies are investing in Africa and Easter Europe and Central Asia. They have to do something with all the money they make selling us cheap poison crap.

Just spent a week talking to a Canadian who lives half the year in China, and his major insight was that the 60 year old Chinese are the equivalent of our "Depression Babies" They are coming from poverty and total lack of opportunity, under Mao, and now they see the world as their oyster. Their kids may be decedent, but the current bosses are self made hard chargers, who have no real need for luxury, they want power and wealth points. Everybody used to live on ten kilos of rice a month, and now some people can run whole countries. Yee haw.
 
 
Jun 16, 2010
so instead of being slaves to foreign countries for their oil, we're switching to hybrid/electric cars so we can be slaves to foreign countries for their lithium.

wait, what?
 
 
+5 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 16, 2010
Mr. Adams;

Fantastic blog. Keep it going. Your blog so reminds me of other "wars to Free the People". The 'Nam, Gulf war number 1, Gulf war number 2 and now Afganistan. All of those wars were fundamentally driven by the gray, shapeless forms behind USA power brokers. Haliburton is merely on of many gray, shapeless forms. These gray forms contend that securing the mineral wealth (oil, lithium, etc) was a strategic necessity. The cost for their wars is borne in the broken bodies, tortured minds & staring eyes of the military and civilian participants. Taxpayers, you are also not off the hook. Consider how your dollar buys less but you pay more in taxes. Consider the bogus stats regarding the unemployment situation and the so-called lack of inflation. In truth, we are paying for horror and financial ruin while the shapeless gray forms gain more wealth. Sorry for the rant, but this is from a mislead 'Nam vet who now sees the light.

JAXID
 
 
+3 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 16, 2010
Mr. Adams;

Fantastic blog. Keep it going. Your blog so reminds me of other "wars to Free the People". The 'Nam, Gulf war number 1, Gulf war number 2 and now Afganistan. All of those wars were fundamentally driven by the gray, shapeless forms behind USA power brokers. Haliburton is merely on of many gray, shapeless forms. These gray forms contend that securing the mineral wealth (oil, lithium, etc) was a strategic necessity. The cost for their wars is borne in the broken bodies, tortured minds & staring eyes of the military and civilian participants. Taxpayers, you are also not off the hook. Consider how your dollar buys less but you pay more in taxes. Consider the bogus stats regarding the unemployment situation and the so-called lack of inflation. In truth, we are paying for horror and financial ruin while the shapeless gray forms gain more wealth. Sorry for the rant, but this is from a mislead 'Nam vet who now sees the light.

JAXID
 
 
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Jun 16, 2010
Ha, I read this story IN 2007. Funny how old news can become the news. Also, arguably Afghanistan never attacked America. Or if they did (Kinda was the Saudis) they did it with a green light from your elected fun boys at home.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=19420

Check out this link and, if you can disprove the argument it's essentially making via this blog, I will send you TEN DOLLARS. Through paypal or something.
 
 
 
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