Are Taliban a Washington Proxy to Give US the Exclusive Rights to Extract Highly Valued Minerals in Afghanistan or Will They Pursue a Win-Win Policy with China, Russia, and US?
Allow me to start off with a disclaimer: The material in this paper may cause original thoughts to develop and have you question your programmed and indoctrinated thinking.
Having said that, I want to preface this paper by telling you that you are who your ancestors sang about in their ceremonies. You are the revolutionary prayer. You are their sacred gift to the world. You are the seeds of those they tried to bury. They fear love because it creates a world they can’t control. The deeper you look, the more you’ll find that we’re on a war with a different kind. Not guns and bombs, but a war of the mind. Once weapons were manufactured to fight wars. Now wars are manufactured to sell weapons. But in the kingdom of the insane, the rational man is not celebrated. He’s lynched.
To begin with, the organizing principle of any society is for war. The basic authority of a modern state [over its people] resides in its war powers. War readiness accounts for approximately 10% of the output of the world's total economy. History is shaped by how information is managed and made available to the masses. At least those who are still paying attention. Regardless, things are changing. Here in America, for most part, people are tired of sending their sons & daughters to endless wars. Therefore, the authority of the state is corroding because people are finally realizing that the wasted trillions of dollars in humdrum wars around the world could provide them social services here at home especially due to all the difficulties that the Covid-19 pandemic has presented during the past two years.
Secondly, a society that separates its scholars from its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards and its fighting done by fools. And isn’t that the case with America. There’s an African proverb that says, “When the elephants fight, it’s the grass that suffers.” And that is precisely why I am an anti-war activist. Regardless, ideals are peaceful. History is violent. Nations don’t have friends. They either have mutual animosity or mutual interests.
I am in the business of rhetoric and oratory. But I have learned to become distrustful of words and language because it can easily be massaged and manipulated. Luckily, truth doesn’t mind being questioned. But a lie doesn’t like being challenged. Gandhi taught us that, “An error does not become truth by reason of multiplied propagation or human perception. Nor does truth become error because nobody sees it.”
As such, there are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true. The other is to refuse to accept what is true which leads me to the topic of this paper: Afghanistan. A country of around 38-39 million people, 50% of which is under 20 years of age. The Pashtuns make up the largest ethnic group in Afghanistan, comprising 42% of the country's population followed by Tajiks (27%), Hazara (9%). Uzbek (9%) and so forth and so on. Across the border, Pashtuns are one of the largest ethnic minorities in Pakistan, making up over 25% of the total population of Pakistan.
Let me bring your attention to this very relevant quotation which is about the genocide against the Pashtun people in the 1890s:
“We proceeded systematically, village by village, and destroyed their houses, filled up their water wells, blew down their towers, cut down their great shady trees, burned the crops & broke the reservoirs in punitive devastation.”
That was Winston Churchill describing the British as “the dominant race” in his own words in 1897.
After the Second World War, the declared policy of American imperialism, the principle of "resistance to communism", created a world of bipolar geopolitical arrangement. Military alliances as well as religious fundamentalism, terrorism, and clashes of civilizations and cultures have ultimately tarnished not only democracy, but humanity itself. There has been a carrousel of American imperialism in Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Cuba, Chile, Colombia, Bolivia, the Caribbean countries, and Afghanistan which is what I’ll be extensively discussing in this paper. The world's so-called “intellectuals” call this American Imperialism a “democracy”. Drunk in hubris, they sing the songs of “American exceptionalism” and the most conceited and loathsome of them all: “The American Way of Life”.
The pseudo-intellectual class of the world have been supporting [in some shape or form] parasitism, status quote-ism, right-wing fascism, reaction-ism, and imperialism vis-à-vis the regimes that implement exploitative and oppressive policies, decisions, and plans of action against the majority of the working people in their respective countries. Every time Washington “saves” a country, it turns it into an insane asylum or a cemetery. Did you know the Pentagon never gets audited even though the tax payers fund it over $720 billion a year?
As it pertains to Afghanistan, the goal is to use that country to wash money out of the tax base in the US as well as in Europe and project it back into the hands of a transnational security elite. The goal is an endless war, not a successful war, as if there’s anything “successful” about any war in history. Their intent is to accumulate as much wealth as possible by stealing it from me and you: the American and the European taxpayers!
In the case of Afghanistan [as elsewhere] the Washington war machine is unleashed. The essence of their strategy is knowing what not to do. And that would be establishing peace. The military industrial complex makes sure that the incentive for war surpasses the incentive for peace. And therein lies all the problems of every hot zone in the world since time immortal. For them war is very profitable. After all, the taxpayers are footing the bill and passing it to the next generations while the war machine maximizes its profits.
For the people of the world, peace is the incentive. Imagine all the social services that could have been created with the $2.26 trillion that we wasted in Afghanistan alone during the past 20 years! That comes out to $113 billion per year. In the US, 40 million people live below the poverty line. A whopping 50 million people rely on food stamp just to have something to eat. 23 million people depend on ACA (Affordable Care Act). They didn’t call the trillion-dollar Wall Street bailouts socialism. They don’t call nearly $1 trillion in oil and gas subsidies “socialism”. They don’t call the billions in big agro bailouts “socialism”. But healthcare, better wages, and healthy food for the poor people? They call that “socialism”.
As every soldier has known since the beginning of time, in the battlefield, willpower is just as important as the technical might of a military force. Afghanistan is a lesson which no empire seems to learn [or doesn’t want to learn] and in comes the insanity: Doing the same thing but expecting a different outcome. In the 4th century BC, Alexander the Great was defeated in the mountains of Hindukush. The British Empire was defeated in Afghanistan in the 1890s. The Soviet Union was bankrupted [by the US] in its war against the Mujahidin from 1979 to 1989. And now, we the United States, from 2001-2021 except for the fact that Washington has a long-term nefarious POA (Plan of Action) for Afghanistan and that’s where it gets complicated
By the way, as a side note, here’s the etymology of the word Hindu Kush. The earliest known usage of the name Hindu Kush occurs on a map published around 1000 AD. Hindu Kush is generally translated as "Killer of Hindu" or "Hindu-Killer". Boyle's Persian-English dictionary indicates that the suffix “kush” is the present stem of the verb “to kill” (koshtan in Persian). According to linguist Francis Joseph Steingass, the suffix “kush” means a killer, one who kills, slays, murders, and oppresses. The name may be a reminder of the days when slaves from the Indian subcontinent and Afghanistan died in the harsh weather typical of the Afghan mountains while being taken from India to Turkestan, today’s Xinxiang Province of China where ironically the Uyghurs Muslims have been under tremendous persecution by the Chinese.
Mountainous, landlocked, and multi-ethnic, Afghanistan is a prisoner of its geography. And yet, these same mountains may hold the answer to its misfortunes. Underneath the surface, the geology of Afghanistan holds masses of untapped mineral wealth valued at around $3 trillion, making it one of the richest mining regions in the world. Rare earth elements which are of strategic importance to disruptive technologies such as laptops and mobile phones to electric vehicles, wind turbines, lithium-ion batteries, satellites, aerial drones, guidance systems, and hypersonic weapons. Rare earth elements are indispensable to modern nations, economies, and militaries. The demand for rare-earth elements is expected to rise exponentially in the coming decade especially as nations switch to renewable innovations. All this gives rare earth elements disproportional strategic relevance. High-tech driven economies rely on rare earth elements and minerals to dominate the economic and military playing field. As such, whoever controls the supply and distribution of these resources will possess a powerful bargaining chip in global affairs and negotiations.
Afghanistan though far from an industrial powerhouse holds trillions of dollars of mineral deposits. The geological findings date back to the Soviet presence in Afghanistan in the 1980s. At the peak of the conflict with mojaheds, the Soviets commissioned secret geological surveys to determine the extent of Afghanistan’s mineral wealth. The objective was to find an upside in the costly and drawn-out war. What they found was a treasure trove in precious metals and rare earths worth up to one trillion dollars at that time. It was an astounding discovery, one that gave new meaning to Kremlin’s strategy in Afghanistan. So the Soviets got to work. Infrastructure was reinforced, power grids were modernized, and mining deposits were commissioned. But before the resources could be extracted, the Soviets packed up and left the country in 1989.
The decision was so sudden that it caught the government in Kabul off-guard. A band of Afghan geologists took the initiative and hid the Soviet documents in their homes only returning them to public domain after the ousting of Taliban in 2001. American geologists used the Soviet charts in their own surveys and since then, owing to more extensive research, Afghanistan’s mineral wealth has grown to an estimated $3 trillion. That is a groundbreaking number for rare earth elements, a market monopolized by China.
It is therefore not by accident that Former US President Donald Trump spoke of mineral extraction with his Afghan counterpart in 2017. For the US, Afghanistan presents an opportunity to reshape the market for rare earth minerals and shift production dependency away from China. The Pentagon in particular is apprehensive of its defense technology relying heavily on Chinese minerals. As such, American policy makers have been trying to secure new suppliers to preserve their domestic supply chains.
In 2015, the US won a case against China at the World Trade Organization which forced China to remove its export quotas on rare earth minerals. It was a victory but a minor one. The US still needs to find alternative sources for its long term needs and Afghanistan might just be the key.
Another American motive relates to the economics of the Afghan battle space. Since 2001, the conflict in Afghanistan has become the longest war in American history costing over $2.26 trillion and costing the lives of over 2300 US troops. Although resource exploitation is a dangerous selling point for military engagement, it is the only appealing thing about Afghanistan.
Meanwhile China is highly interested in Afghanistan’s resources to maintain its market share in rare earth metals. Currently, China is the top supplier in the market but its own growing domestic demands owing to renewable consumptions have reduced its total exports. Thus, to supply its domestic and foreign associates, China seeks to find alternative sources and bring them online.
Afghanistan presents not only a new market but new opportunities. But its proximity overlaps with China’s Belt and Road Initiative, making it the perfect partner for China. In 2007, Kabul signed a $3.4 billion deal with two Chinese state-owned entities to mine Afghanistan’s largest copper deposit. The Chinese companies plan to extract about $100 billion worth of copper over the 30-year terms of the lease and a railroad was to be constructed to the site. The deal marked an opening for a hunt for Afghanistan’s riches even though it failed later on.
For Afghanistan, it was a minor setback. Its mineral wealth represents a way out whether the partner is China or America or both. The situation at large present a win-win. Even a tiny slice of the $3 trillion pie is enough to restore the basic functions of the now Taliban government in Kabul. A functional mining industry would generate billions of dollars each year. Enough to make the difference between success and failure. But this is Afghanistan we are talking about: the graveyard of empires. A land torn by conflict, corruption, and geography.
One of the barriers to prosperity in Afghanistan or even stability is the lack of infrastructure which is difficult to accomplish in the unforgiving Hindu Kush Mountains. If Afghanistan is to make use of its mineral deposits, it needs to construct the infrastructure first. A rail network is a must. One that needs to connect to either of its neighbors. Iran or Pakistan. Ultimately, it all comes down to Pakistan. Perhaps the most cost effective way of improving Afghanistan’s infrastructure would be to integrate the country into the China-Pakistan economic corridor which is part of China’s BRI. The trouble beyond Afghanistan-Pakistan rivalry is that any significant move by China into Afghanistan could provoke a reaction for the US. This is a game Afghanistan does not want to play. The last time it found itself stuck between two great powers, it broke the country.
The Kabul government never had real control of the countryside. The mountainous terrain is tormented with ethnic disputes while non-state actors such as Taliban used it to roam freely before they officially took over in late August of 2021. For private investors, the lack of security raises the costs and risks of doing business. The overall conditions discourage private investment.
Solution: Afghanistan needs to find a formula that considers the interests of US, China, Pakistan, Turkey, Iran, and Russia while also considering its domestic factors such as corruption and internal conflicts. So everything needs to be synchronized and that is difficult to do for a decentralized government in Kabul even with Taliban at the helm. The need for rare earth elements is sincere and Afghanistan’s mineral wealth holds the answer to its current predicaments. However, while Afghanistan may sit on a gold mine, it needs to remain vigilant. The wealthy and powerful nations of the world are built because of gold mines. But they are rarely built on top of them. In Afghanistan and elsewhere, the problem of conquering the world is that the world is going to want its revenge!
If all else fails, would Washington aim to create another civil war in Afghanistan by pulling out in a sense that some in Washington, i.e. the establishment party of war elites, Democrat and Republican alike, wish an ongoing perpetual war between various Afghan Jihadi groups? Crazed ideological religious gangs, Wahhabi in orientation, supported by Saudi Arabia and the US. By pulling out, President Biden aimed to create a vacuum in which the Chinese national interest in Afghanistan would be jeopardized mainly due to extracting just about every useful precious metal, minerals and natural resource even fossil fuel that are quite strategic in expanding our high-tech revolution. What we call the 4th Industrial Revolution. Would installing Taliban be a part of the US foreign policy in having control of these tremendous resources? Or would re-installing the embezzler Ashraf Ghani, now the former president of Afghanistan who escaped to U.A.E. with nearly $170 million, be an option if Taliban becomes too uppity for Washington’s taste? I believe the US is too vested in Taliban in the long term, short of a major faux pas by Taliban to side with China.
Either way, in doing so, the technological growth of the Chinese economy could be slowed down if the US doubles down. This might be one of the long-term US geopolitical strategies in the region and of course completely intentional and to some point possibly successful. But I believe creating this controlled chaos is an unsustainable strategy because there are many state and non-state actors in this war-torn region, not to mention the fact that the Chinese will not be sitting idle.
Everyone will try to have a piece of the pie by "negotiating" with the Taliban because as I mentioned before, the estimated worth of the aforementioned Afghan rare earth minerals is around $3 trillion. Precious metals and minerals such as tellurium, cobalt, iron, copper, Tungsten, Manganese, Lithium, etc.
During the past 20 years, the government in Kabul, albeit a Washington puppet, signed decades long contracts with China to sell them the highly valuable minerals. I believe Taliban was brought in by Washington to reverse and renege these contracts with China. Does US want exclusive right to Afghan’s highly-valued mineral resources by snatching them away from China while from behind the scene protecting Taliban militarily to bolster and solidify Taliban’s takeover? It’s now fully apparent to everyone that the US left behind a vast array of weapons and armory for Taliban.
Again, if Taliban chooses to pursue their own foreign policy, they will be replaced and the US will cause another civil war, possibly throwing ISIS into the mix as we saw with the recent suicide bombing in which over 170 people were killed. We have had intelligence reports that ISIS had established and maintained limited presence in Afghanistan during the past few years. We believe this was facilitated by the US in order to be used against Taliban, if need be, not to mention destabilizing Iran in its eastern borders since Iran couldn’t be defeated in its western borders vis-à-vis ISIS terrorists in Iraq and Syria.
This is the grand game, the grand bargain if you may. Meanwhile, if need be, US may be using Islamist Jihadis to destabilize some Central Asian countries that are bordering Afghanistan, what I call the “stan’ countries: Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kirgizstan, in order to create chaos with the goal of destabilizing the EAEU and ultimately southern Russia. Some argue that these Islamist might be let loose to create chaos in Western China, especially the Xingian Province where the Ethnic Muslim Uyghurs happen to live. Through the Afghan Wakhan Corridor, China and Afghanistan actually have a common border. But this scenario is highly unlikely due to China’s stern response. Regardless, such managed chaos strategies may slow down the growth and advancement of the BRI, i.e. the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative. These are all possible future scenarios, although they’re unlikely.
With Jihadism, you’re fighting an idea. Terrorism is a function of religious extremism which is born out of poverty and hardship, giving people a reason to believe in something about their lives which too often is animus. The group(s) are almost irrelevant.
Unfortunately, such destructive ways and means have become Washington’s modus operandi for decades. But their narratives have been exposed. However, when exposing a crime is treated as committing a crime, you are ruled by criminals and isn’t that what this decaying republic has degenerated into. As Malcolm X best put it, “If you aren’t ready or willing to die for it, put the word freedom out of your vocabulary.” Those who are able to see beyond the shadows and lies of their society will never be understood, let alone believed by the masses. And war is a construct of the greedy enabled by the stupidity of the masses.
The overall sentiment of anti-war activists around the world is this: Go home Yankee Imperialists and take your so-called “democracy” with you. You died as invaders of foreign lands just to make the global arms dealers and international drug lords richer. But you're too stupid to understand that. And we’re supposed to "thank you for your service"?! We don't think so. You don't save lives. You endanger lives. You take lives. You create new enemies so Pentagon can keep raising the “defense” budget and create new enemies to justify their outrageous expenditures. The anti-war activists have zero respect for you. Go back home Yankee Doodle. You make our country (America) unsafe and hated.
The cover of a recent issue of UK’s Daily Mail newspaper stated, “After 20 years, Afghanistan is abandoned in days. Fears grow for our brave translators, mounting panic in rush to flee the Taliban. Now families of 457 British heroes who sacrificed their lives ask: What the hell did they die for?”
The answer is this: Nothing! They died for nothing! Truth hurts for those who delude themselves. Yes, they died for nothing while wanting to get their hands on Afghanistan’s rare earth minerals. Face it. More reason to NEVER JOIN THE ARMY OF ANY IMPERIALIST POWER. All of them. The entire NATO apparatus. In a nutshell, these soldiers wasted their lives and died as foolish temporary conquerors of a distant land that’s never been defeated. That's it. The rest is window dressing. Many of them were willing pawns for the empire and its war criminals. Our tears are only for their victims. War itself is a form of madness. It’s hardly a civilized pursuit. It’s amazing how we spend so much time inventing devices to kill each other and so little time working on how to achieve peace. War is hell.
Meanwhile, the enormous gap between what our so-called “leaders” do in the world and what we think our leaders are doing is one of the great propaganda accomplishments of the dominant political mythology. Che Guevara was right when he said, “The United States is not the champion of freedom but rather the perpetrator of exploitation and oppression against the people of the world and against a large part of its own population.” Because capitalism cannot exist without waste. The profit motive, when it is the sole basis of an economic system, encourages a cut-throat competition and selfish ambition that inspires men to be more concerned about making a living than making a life.
When a country has 5% of the world’s population but has 50% of the world’s military spending, then the persuasive power of that country are on the decline. Rather than a wall, America needs to build a giant mirror to reflect on that we have become. Our foreign policy hubris in Afghanistan and our never-ending delusional arrogance in spreading ourselves too thin all over the world will produce nothing but financial bankruptcy and massive loss of respect. The policy of, “Si vis pacem para bellum” meaning, “If you want peace, prepare for war" has got to go. It’s a contradiction in terms and is taking us to the edge of hell.
In conclusion, United States is a spent force in the Middle East. There’s a new game in town. Even the Saudis are turning towards Russia and China as the US global petrodollar power is declining as we will be shifting to new rare earth minerals and renewable innovations even though petroleum and natural gas will be with us for a long lone time. Washington feels the pressure [and incapacity] to compete with Russia and China in the region. Substituting our military power as a way of intimidating others is doomed to fail. Perhaps it already has.
But with Taliban, the bottom line is this: They want legitimacy from the “international community” - one of the most abused concepts which universalizes the interests of a handful of western powers. It is used as a cudgel for Washington to isolate its enemies as a call for military intervention every time it invokes the term. Taliban claims they have reformed. But their fundamental beliefs have not changed. The world will have a tough time legitimizing and dealing with men who want to run the 21st century Afghanistan with a warped interpretation of the 7th century Islam.