Wednesday, June 16, 2010

All that glitters is not gold...it could be lithium

When I read this I was excited!  Then nervous.

For decades and decades, the war-torn country of Afghanistan has had little substance to base any sort of restructuring on.  Politicians are ousted again and again, war is waged again and again, religious zealots wreak their havoc as they come and go, and the Taliban is fueled by the only lucrative business available- the drug trade.  Opium dominates the Afghan economy, leaving corruption and ruied lives everywhere it touches.  But what else has there been to do or develop?  Nothing; until now.

A literal gold mine of natural resources have been rediscovered throughout the country.  Interestingly, the Soviets were aware of the resources years ago, but since they left, the Afghan people have not had the means to develop them as they have been bombarded with war, corruption, and debt.  Now that they have been rediscovered, there is a great opportunity to restructure the Afghan economy, create jobs, have a viable (and legal) export, and rebuild upon a foundation that can help lead them out of poverty and into the future.

This vision, of course, is a long way off, considering the country's utter lack of mining structures and other pieces that will need to come into play before these resources, like lithium, actually make it overseas into American laptop batteries and make the Afghan people stable jobs and money.  But the hope of a realistic way for this country to end its economic reliance on narcotics is inspiring.

The worry I still have, however, is that, like so many other things, the Taliban will sieze this opportunity and capitalize, thereby making themselves richer and everyone else more desparate for their favor and leadership.  Or, we could have an oil/Saudi Arabia-type situation where a handful of spoiled wealthy upperclassmen control the whole enterprise and monopolize, thereby enslaving their own countrymen as well as international buyers.  Let's hope not.  If the government takes a slow, conscientious and fair approach to setting up a working mining system, this could be a great success and change the face of Afghanistan for the better- giving just the boost that they need to move into the realm of becoming an independent and developed nation.