There's a whole ocean of metal under our feet!

And no one can get at it but us!

Who knew? There's something valuable—other than opium—in Afghanistan on the order of a trillion dollars. It's roughly been known since the 80's, but only confirmed a few years ago, and now known publicly for the first time.

Immediate thoughts:
  • We're never going to be leaving Afghanistan now—we're set, economically and geopolitically with Iraq for oil and Afghanistan for metals.
  • I remember hearing that China was shifting money into acquiring raw materials the last few years, looks like we've really one-upped them.
  • If the wealth from the resources is going to end up in the hands of a few warlords, this seems like a case where nationalizing them seems positive, or at least less bad in comparison for the people of Afghanistan.
  • If what follows below is true, then the Bin Ladin/Taliban crowd played right into our hands by giving us a cover to lodge ourselves deep into the region.
Bigger thoughts:

The topic of an interventionist versus non-interventionist foreign policy has been brought up before here and I've usually been stridently non-interventionist. However in having conversations with people in the lab, some foreign some native, I've realized that everything the country does abroad is for the country's benefit.

I mean, of course, that statement is obvious, but what I realized is the view having re-framed everything in that light.

We made NATO not because we particularly cared that the Western Europeans weren't communist, but because Western Europe was our buffer economically and geographically. Same in Asia with Japan and So Ko. If someone wanted to attack the U.S., I think Americans would rather have Seoulites take it than Seattleites. Likewise with why we always unquestionably support Israel.

Advancing the nation's interests is the goal. Militarily that means creating buffer and spreading out to make it difficult to damage us. Economically that means securing resources and markets, with force if necessary.

Perhaps this is a naked emperor situation and I just entered into the big people club by realizing there aren't any clothes. Or perhaps it's that rule number one is don't talk about the real rules lest we blow our cover to the other countries and lose the optimal position.

So then, what I'm mulling is whether to accept the flow and have a comfortable suburban life supplied by the empire or to want to do away with the empire which would be significantly less expensive but significantly more uncertain. The second option would allow the rest of the world to go its own way, hopefully forward in several ways, but it would reduce our advantage in the long run. I suppose one can always fall back on "if we don't get it, someone else will and I'd rather we have it than someone else."

To wrap back around to Afghanistan, if Afghanistan were it's own country, it could sell to the US, or China, or Russia, or Europe. The winner in that long run is the people of Afghanistan. With us there, we get the employee discount ensuring cheap resources in the US and the guarantee of the preservation of our high standard of living instead of having some of it dissipate out to the people who we'd have to buy from instead. I feel both ways. Well, I guess I can assuage myself for now by supposing it's dog-eat-dog—if we didn't do it, somebody else would.