Here’s an important message to CounterPunch readers from
Here at CounterPunch we love Barbara Ehrenreich for many reasons: her courage, her intelligence and her untarnished optimism. Ehrenreich knows what’s important in life; she knows how hard most Americans have to work just to get by, and she knows what it’s going to take to forge radical change in this country. We’re proud to fight along side her in this long struggle. We hope you agree with Barbara that CounterPunch plays a unique role on the Left. Our future is in your hands. Please donate.
Yes, these are dire political times. Many who optimistically hoped for real change have spent nearly five years under the cold downpour of political reality. Here at CounterPunch we’ve always aimed to tell it like it is, without illusions or despair. That’s why so many of you have found a refuge at CounterPunch and made us your homepage. You tell us that you love CounterPunch because the quality of the writing you find here in the original articles we offer every day and because we never flinch under fire. We appreciate the support and are prepared for the fierce battles to come.
Unlike other outfits, we don’t hit you up for money every month … or even every quarter. We ask only once a year. But when we ask, we mean it.
CounterPunch’s website is supported almost entirely by subscribers to the print edition of our magazine. We aren’t on the receiving end of six-figure grants from big foundations. George Soros doesn’t have us on retainer. We don’t sell tickets on cruise liners. We don’t clog our site with deceptive corporate ads.
The continued existence of CounterPunch depends solely on the support and dedication of our readers. We know there are a lot of you. We get thousands of emails from you every day. Our website receives millions of hits and nearly 100,000 readers each day. And we don’t charge you a dime.
Please, use our brand new secure shopping cart to make a tax-deductible donation to CounterPunch today or purchase a subscription our monthly magazine and a gift sub for someone or one of our explosive books, including the ground-breaking Killing Trayvons. Show a little affection for subversion: consider an automated monthly donation. (We accept checks, credit cards, PayPal and cold-hard cash….)
To contribute by phone you can call Becky or Deva toll free at: 1-800-840-3683
Thank you for your support,
Jeffrey, Joshua, Becky, Deva, and Nathaniel
CounterPunch PO Box 228, Petrolia, CA 95558
Afghanistan, the Saudi Arabia of Lithium?
It seems that Afghanistan is a never ending font of surprises. For decades U.S. officials took the position that Afghanistan held nothing of value for the United States, especially in the form of vital strategic resources. That assumption was a major reason for America’s consistently dismissive attitude towards Afghanistan up until the Soviet invasion of 1979 and why the U.S. was content to turn the country over to Pakistan and Saudi Arabian interests following the Soviet departure. Then on June 13, 2010 the New York Times in a front-page story reported how a small team of Pentagon officials and American geologists had suddenly discovered a vast treasure of Afghanistan’s mineral wealth worth nearly $1 trillion dollars.
But the story of Afghanistan’s mineral wealth isn’t a new one nor did the Pentagon just “discover” it. According to a Reuters report of March 16, 2009, over a year ago, Afghanistan’s minister of mines Mohammed Ibrahim Adel cited U.S. Geological Survey Data in declaring that “In the field of minerals, Afghanistan is the richest country in the region, much more, hundreds of times more.”
Even the New York Times’ story admits that the survey information, on which the Pentagon assessment was based, came from data collected by Soviet mining experts nearly 30 years ago. American geologists became aware of it in 2004, but the data languished until 2009.
But the most revealing quote in the Pentagon report wasn’t so much that Afghanistan did indeed contain a vast wealth of minerals or even that the U.S. had carelessly overlooked a vast source of wealth for an impoverished nation. No. The key to understanding the report was framed by the reference that “Afghanistan could become the ‘Saudi Arabia of lithium,’” and Saudi Arabia is where the real story behind the headlines begins.
This is not the first time that Saudi Arabia has been used to as a model for Afghanistan’s future. One might go so far as to say today’s Afghanistan and its Taliban scourge already bears the stamp of being made in Saudi Arabia.
According to author, Gerald Posner in his book, Secrets of the Kingdom, the anti-Soviet Afghan war was as much a godsend for the Saudi Royal family as it was for the Afghan Islamists. “Some prominent Saudi officials, like Prince Bandar, as well as his father, defense minister Prince Sultan, saw the Soviet aggression as a chance to form a closer bond with Washington. It was a rare chance, they argued to other Saudi ministers, to replace Israel as America’s strategic partner in the Middle East. And as far as the Americans were concerned, the Saudis had suddenly become a cash cow.”
The term “Taliban” and the movement itself were unheard of in Afghanistan until 1994. Prior to the Soviet invasion, the Taliban mentality and the madrassa structure did not exist. As an invention of Pakistan’s military intelligence with outside help, the Taliban were not recruited from inside Afghanistan but from Pakistani madrassas. This process was funded, not by Afghans, but by the Saudis and other Arab countries who continue to seek the long term goal of a political and religious transformation of South Asia combined with the dissolution of Afghanistan as a nation state.
The Taliban version of Deobandi Islam practiced in Pakistan and the Wahhabism practiced in Saudi Arabia were both alien to Afghan practice. Suicide bombings did not exist in Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation nor even when the Taliban took control in 1996. The Afghan people never willingly embraced extremist Islam. These ideas were forced upon them under circumstances beyond their control.
From the very beginning, the United States really had no conception of what to do in Afghanistan except to follow the lead of the Saudis, with some American diplomats benignly visualizing that a Taliban victory would simply turn Afghanistan into a miniature Saudi Arabia. In his book, Taliban, Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid quotes one diplomat as saying, “The Taliban will probably develop like the Saudis did. There will be Aramco, pipelines, an emir, no parliament and lots of Sharia law. We can live with that.”
The Obama administration has nothing good to report to the American people on Afghanistan. New revelations of the hopelessness of government corruption arrive daily. Afghanistan’s president Hamid Karzai is in open confrontation with Washington on dozens of issues. Not only is reconstruction dead and the war failing, but so far, General McChrystal’s application of Counter Insurgency (COIN) has failed miserably. The heralded U.S. assault on Marja and the establishment of government control has come to a dead stop. According to the Washington Post, the failure at Marja has now caused the summer assault on Kandahar to be postponed indefinitely and threatens the Obama administration’s plans for a July 2011 drawdown of U.S. troops.
So, without a legitimate rationale for staying in Afghanistan and no conceivable way of justifying countless more billions of dollars or American lives – Washington has finally admitted that the country is not only important, but is vital to the future of America’s strategic mineral interests. But even now as the Obama administration dredges up a new reason for staying in Afghanistan past the 2011 deadline, it appears that the old motivation of transforming Afghanistan into a Central Asian Saudi Arabia remains the real motivation underlying America’s war.