Lately some thoughts have been troubling me, so of course I choose to share them. Our war in Afghanistan has gone on far too long. It is the longest war we have ever chosen to start, 11 years and counting, and on the surface one of the most futile and stupid. The American public is fed up with it, President Obama pledged to end it, yet it goes on. To date we have squandered 228 billion dollars and hundreds of American lives. What’s going on here?
We are all aware, to some degree at least, that the Afghans, like us, are fierce defenders of their country. In the late 1970s and 80s they kicked out the Soviets after a nine year war and prior to that they drove out the British who attempted to rule them. Why then do we persist in this folly when it is increasingly clear we too are almost certain to be driven out? To try to discover why we are there, and continue to squander American lives and taxpayer dollars, we have to start at the beginning, the source of our aggression.
We all recognize that in order to run our 21st century lives we need energy. We Americans love our cars and automakers are scrambling to make more efficient vehicles as the price of gas rises. One glaring problem for the car makers has surfaced. These new vehicles will need highly efficient batteries. Currently the best batteries envisioned require an element called lithium. Lithium batteries are used in everything from cell phones and pacemakers to clocks and cameras. The latest use us in hybrid and electric cars. Lithium is fairly rare and currently very expensive. You can probably already see the connection between lithium and our involvement in Afghanistan. It happens that the barren hills and mountainous terrain are where Americans are killing and being killed contain- you guessed it- lithium.
You can be sure that the battery producers will obtain the lithium they require, and you can be equally sure that whoever ends up supplying the lithium to them will make huge fortunes. True to form, once again human greed has determined world events. In the end I cannot see that it makes a great deal of difference who ends up as the world lithium supplier.
Our puppet Afghan president Karzai, and his relatives, have managed to divert millions of US dollars for themselves. Whether they and their ilk develop the lithium resource, or whether it is one of the Afghan warlords who decides that there is more profit in lithium than in heroin, or whether an American or international warlord exploits this resource makes little difference in the end.
Meanwhile we continue to display our common sense and intelligence by squandering American lives, and taxes from our hard earned paychecks, in Afghanistan.
Charles O. Smith