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Was the NYT story on Afghan minerals sincere or Pentagon PR?

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posted on Jun, 18 2010 @ 09:13 AM
Before the story broke about the mineral deposits "found" in Afghanistan, many Americans were losing interest in the war in Afghanistan, also known as OEF. Could the New York Times have had a sincere and honest reason to report on the story or was this a carefully orchestrated instrument to make Americans feel as if there is something to fight for in the region.

Lets face it, the Al Qaeda threat in the country has been reduced to little more than a few fighters, if that and Americans were increasingly losing confidence and interest in the war. After all, the Taliban wasn't our real enemy as it wasn't the Taliban that allegedly attacked us on 9/11. Many Americans and westerners whose countries are involved in the war effort did not have a positive outlook for the country and it seemed as if not much progress could be made, as far as bringing hope to the country... That is until this "find". This "find" actually gives us some hope that Afghanistan just may be able to prosper, as there is something to look forward to. An actual economic goal to bring the citizens of this country into the 21st Century. This actually crossed my mind a day or two after I heard the actual news of the minerals so I decided to research a little. My research brought me to this article, where apparently, I'm not the only one with these same thoughts. The article titled "Analysis: Did the 'gray lady' get played?", is basically postulating the same thoughts.

KABUL, Afghanistan — The New York Times' lead story Monday about “nearly $1 trillion in untapped mineral deposits in Afghanistan” was the kind of journalism that seemed at first glance to be a game changer.

Suddenly, there was something worth fighting for in Afghanistan beyond an ill-defined counterinsurgency campaign: the lithium batteries that power our cell phones. The story even quoted an internal Pentagon memo that Afghanistan could become the “Saudi Arabia of lithium.” And the article went further, trumpeting United States officials' belief that Afghanistan could eventually be “transformed into one of the most important mining centers in the world.”

It seems the Times’ reporter, James Risen, a Pulitzer Prize-winner, did what a lot of great reporters do: He picked up on a story that had been floating around for weeks, months, years, or maybe even back to the Soviet era, depending on which geological surveys you choose to reference, and he made it relevant in the current context.

A question that many media watchers, military analysts and pundits are now wondering is whether The New York Times gave that story shape or whether it was somehow played by the U.S. military to see the value of the mineral deposits at a moment in time when Washington appears to be increasingly concerned about the public losing confidence in the war in Afghanistan.

Was it part of a concerted media campaign to make certain Pentagon memos available and have CENTCOM commander Gen. David Petraeus weigh in with quotes for the New York Times? Risen has been defending his story, and not always in the most attractive manner.

In an interview with Yahoo’s Newsroom blog, Risen got a bit testy, saying, “Bloggers should do their own reporting instead of sitting around in their pajamas.”

Here in Kabul, I must confess that I guess I’ve been sitting on this major story for several years now. The truth is that those of us who have been here a while knew about Afghanistan’s untapped mineral wealth.

To find out, I did not go under cover or hack into secret Pentagon files — I just happened to bump into a very nice man in the Kabul line at the Dubai airport, sometime in 2008. He proudly told me (in what I frankly thought was a bit too much detail) about the marble mines his organization was helping to open in western Afghanistan.

“This is the wave of the future,” he said enthusiastically. “The U.S. Geological Survey has determined that Afghanistan has more non-fuel mineral deposits than almost anyplace else on earth.”

I was actually motivated to look up the survey, which is readily available online.

The report did not exactly make for fascinating reading — unless section designators such as “Proterozoic Ultramafic Rock Area of Interest” or “Deposits related to felsic phanerocrystalline intrusive rocks” spark one’s interest. Minerals, I decided, were not my thing. I filed it away at the back of my mind as a story to follow up on some day, when Afghanistan’s political morass and security nightmare eased, giving geologists space to explore and journalists time to report.

But The New York Times beat me to it: It “revealed” that Afghanistan was sitting on, for want of a better term, a veritable gold mine. Once the Pentagon packaged the data by tacking on a speculative price tag — $1 trillion — and adding a snappy sound bite here and there, a three-year-old report based partially on decades-old data collected by the Soviets became the biggest story on the planet.

Please visit the link provided for the complete story.

There is actually a second page so clicking on the link and reading the actual article is recommended. What do other members think?


posted on Jun, 18 2010 @ 08:00 PM
The Pentagon lies, a LOT.

in any event i think this story is largely an irrelevancy.

We have spent half a trillion there already.

Sounds like lottery advertising.
They inspire baseless dreams of fabulous wealth so they can steadily rob you blind of REAL money.

posted on Jun, 18 2010 @ 08:38 PM

Originally posted by airspoon
Before the story broke about the mineral deposits "found" in Afghanistan, many Americans were losing interest in the war in Afghanistan, also known as OEF. Could the New York Times have had a sincere and honest reason to report on the story or was this a carefully orchestrated instrument to make Americans feel as if there is something to fight for in the region.

Isn't it funny how different people can have such different perspectives. When I first saw that story in the NY Times, I thought just the opposite! The mineral deposits are why the government wants to fight the war, like the oil in Iraq. For the most part, I don't think that American citizens want to fight a war soley for resources, and if found out that that was the reason, I think that a war for those reasons would become very unpopular, very fast.

posted on Jun, 19 2010 @ 01:49 AM
reply to post by Iamonlyhuman

This thread was only about the motives for publishing the article, not for going to war in the first place. Regardless of why the US invaded Afghanistan, why did the NYT publish the story when this has been known for a very long time. Could it have been published to drum up support for a war that is very unpopular back home.

I doesn't doubt for a minute that Afghanistan's minerals were one of the reasons for invading the country, however the UNOCAL pipeline was the biggest reason and here is why. You can corrupt any government to allow them to let you rape their natural resources. However, you need to be in control of the entire nation for that pipeline to be successful and stay in tact. I suspect that the Taliban said "no" to the pipeline because it would not give them any claim on the oil running through the pipeline, only revenues from the leased lands. With minerals mined within the countries, those minerals would *belong to Afghanistan, only sold extremely cheaply to western corporations.

Remember, without that pipeline, the natural gas reserves in the Caspian couldn't reach lucrative markets for a viable price. Afghanistan is the only country to run the pipeline through besides the nations that already agreed because the alternatives would have been Russia, China and Iran which all were a "no-go". China and Russia want their own claims to the Caspian and Iran for obvious reasons. When American boots first landed in Afghanistan back in 2001, part of their mission was to escort civilian contractors to survey a route for the pipeline. This was before the Taliban and Al Qaeda were even engaged or at least at the same time.

So, while I agree that the minerals were a factor, I do not think they were the sole factor. Regardless, this thread was about the motives of the NYT article, not the motives for going to war.


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