The report that geologists have found $1 trillion in mineral wealth in Afghanistan is less important than it seems.. That Afghanistan has minerals is not in fact news. But none of the…
That Afghanistan has minerals is not in fact news. But none of the sort of research that would be necessary to place a value on them has been done, so no one actually knows what they are worth of if they are worth anything after expenses.
Then, for a country of 34 million, it isn’t that much money even if the minerals could easily be extracted and actually exist in the imagined quantities. If you mined $100 billion a year, that would be a lower middle class income for the country, but only for 10 years. And, then back to grinding poverty.
In contrast, the nominal gross domestic product of the United States is on the order of $14 trillion, year after year.
It is silly to say that $1 trillion in hard-to-mine minerals in a landlocked Afghanistan make it like Saudi Arabia. The latter has 267 billion barrels of petroleum that is fairly easy to get at and to export, which at today’s prices is worth over $18 trillion. Not to mention its natural gas.
The US will likely end up spending $1 trillion destroying things in Afghanistan.
So even if the whole benefit of the minerals went to the US, it would be in the hole.
See also The Atlantic and