Mineral wealth is a blessing to rich, well-governed countries. To poor, ill-governed countries, it’s a curse, reinforcing the culture of corruption. Worst of all is mineral wealth in the midst of civil war: it can both finance and motivate insurgency.
So the claimed discovery of a trillion dollars’ worth of minerals in Afghanistan is the opposite of good news. What puzzles me is who in the U.S. government thought it advantageous to get this story out now, and why.
Update Marc Ambinder thinks the Obama Administration is playing Wag the Dog, using the alleged bonanza (which Ambinder says isn’t new news) to distract attention from a failing counter-insurgency effort. Weirdly, Ambinder credits Jared Diamond with the thought that mineral wealth tends to geneate political stability.