Belle of Liberty

Letting Freedom Ring

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Here's Our Hat; What's Our Hurry?

Obama has set a deadline of Dec. 31st, this year, to withdraw all our troops out of Iraq. He hasn’t said anything about the troops in Bosnia, Germany, Japan, or any of the other countries in which our troops were stationed.

One country he isn’t in as much of a hurry to leave is Afghanistan. Even though he got the Gold Ring – Osama Bin Laden, our troops still there. One reason is that the Taliban hasn’t quite been routed. But there’s another reason: there’s gold in them thar Afghanistan hills.

That had to figure, being so mountainous and otherwise worthless, except for growing opium, that Afghanistan had to have some redeeming value. According to Scientific American’s contributing editor, Sarah Simpson, “An astounding variety of minerals is liked buried in Afghanistan, including seven world-class mineral deposits. Based on recent science, senior officials think mining could make the country economically stable and cut its heavy dependence on foreign aid and illicit opium trade. Outside nations have already invested in two site, and six more are scheduled for auction; infranstructure will have to be improved, however. Production at a single large mine could provide jobs for tens of thousands of Afghans.

“China currently provides 97 percent of the world’s rare-earth supply [of critical elements for such industries as the electronics industry], which makes other industrial countries nervous.”

But who were the first bidders for gold and these rare-earth mineral despoits were confirmed, way back in 2007? China Metallurgical Group was one and China’s Aynak was close behind. “Afghanistan’s most potentially lucrative stash: iron concentrated in Haji-Gak, mountainous terrain about 130 kilometers west of Kabul (and conveniently close to the planned railroad northward from Aynak). Estimated at a whopping $420 billion, the source could bring in $300 million in government revenue each year and employ 30,000 people, according to the Afghan ministry.”

Thanks to the 2001 U.S. “invasion”, the Afghanistan Geological Survey got the authorization, the funds – and the protection – to develop the sites. Chasing out the Tablian is critical to the mission. When the U.S. Geological Survey visited the site of the AGS’ offices in Kabul, they found a bombed-out office. Their scientists needed to be brought up to speed on computer technology, though. According to Simpson, “one Afghan chemist recoiled when someone pulled out a laptop. She wouldn’t touch it because she was afraid she’d be electrocuted.”

Nor were they educated on plate tectonics. But they learned quickly. Thanks to the $8.7 million dollars, to say nothing of the U.S. military personnel assigned to make sure they succeed. At the beginning of the article, we’re told: “The scene at first resembles many that play out daily in the war-torn Red Zone of southern Afghanistan: a pair of Black Hawk helicopters descend on a hillside nearly the country’s border with Pakistan. As the chopper lands, U.S. Marines leap out, assault rifles ready. But then geologists sporting helmets and heavy ceramic vests jump out, too. The researchers are virtually indistinguishable from the soldiers except that they carry rock hammers instead of guns. A human chain of soldiers encircles the scientists as they step forward on the dusty ground.

“’The minute you get off, you go into geologist mode,’ says Jack H. Medlin, director of the U.S. Geological Survey’s activities in Afghanistan. ‘You forget, basically, that these guys are around – unless you try to get out of the circle.’

Medlin’s team has flown many missions, each one limited to an hour so that hostile forces do not have time to organize and descend. Sixty minutes is a stressful, fleeting instant to geologists who would typically take days to carefully sample and map a site.”

“The latest of these gutsy excursions revealed a superlative cache of rare-earth elements – a coveted subset of critical minerals that have become essential to high-tech manufacturing and yet are in short supply in the U.S. and many nations. The prized Afghan deposit is comparable to the premier site mined in China.”

Yet, a major Chinese major mining company has laid claim to a huge copper despoit, while U.S. interests have invested in gold, while India and are nations are eying Afghanistan’s iron mines.

So it seems U.S. aid and military might are paving the way for China – which already has 97 percent of the world’s known rare-earth to deposits – to claim a complete monopoly on all rare-earth deposits. Does anyone want to bet that China will sit on these rare-earth deposits, while raising the price on its own? Yes, the mining operations could drive out the need for opium growers – and create another communist colony for China.

China is everywhere – up in space, toying with a new space station, out at sea, creating a brand new shiny naval fleet, spying on our industries, manufacturing everything the West goes into red ink consuming, sucking up the world's oil supplies, cheating the international firms that try to do business in China, and buying up the debt of every insolvent nation, including the United States.

Mineral deposits, particularly gold and silver, have always been a thorn of contention between China and the West. The trade imbalance is as old as the Opium Wars of the 17th Century. Meanwhile, for the past 40 years, we’ve been playing the Zero Population game, reducing our population and our future workforce. Honestly. Hasn’t anyone ever read Adam Smith and his theory on the importance of growing a working force?

Instead of a native-born population with a vested interest in the welfare of the country, we’re importing an illegal population with a vested interest in the welfare state, and exporting our skilled jobs to foreign shores. The temptation of cheap labor and lower Corporate tax rates are just too great for any company to be inveigled to remain here.

Don’t start packing your bags for that slow boat to China just yet, though. Keep in mind that their daily newspaper, The Beijing People’s Daily, has a daily section on its web page called “New of Communist Party of China.” Everyone is looking to China right now with starry eyes, but it would do well to remember the Wendy’s hamburger chain’s tv spot from the 1980s, depicting a Russian fashion show. In their hearts, the Communists don’t believe in product differentiation; they consider it inefficient. They seem to have taken up – or at least stolen – Western ways. In the commercial, Russian communist models come out in their plain grey suit. In one take, the model has a flashlight. “Evening wear,” the announcer says. Another model appears wearing the same jumpsuit and a rubber ducky. “Swimwear.”

When we were young, we used to laugh that everything we bought bore the label, “Made in China.” Nothing has changed in 40 years – except American attitudes about success. Oh we have posters about achieving success on our office walls.

But they’re made in China.


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