Friday, June 18, 2010

Will the big risk-takers be the real winners in Afghanistan?

The US may be stabilizing Afghanistan on behalf of Indian and Chinese mining interests. Or should we say the Americans may be keeping Afghanistan just unstable enough to give their Asian competitors the upper hand.

Last week the New York Times reported on a Pentagon study that found Afghanistan may have mineral resources worth $1 trillion.   Apparently, some sources estimate the actual figure may be closer to $3 trillion.  The story wasn't exactly news to mining industry insiders, but the coverage did get a lot more people talking.   Mineweb (h/t Sanjuro) reports on the Afghan government's efforts to attract foreign investors to mining:
Many international mining firms are cautious over bidding on Afghan tenders and Jawad conceded it could be a tough sell.

"We have had a hard time convincing U.S. companies, despite my personal hard lobbying to consider this. One has to be realistic," he added.

"Practically speaking, the two countries in our neighborhood -- China and India -- are in need of these resources and they may be more forthcoming ... Companies from developing countries are less risk averse," he said.
The irony of course, is that the United States far and away the biggest risk-taker in Afghanistan today.   Whether Americans will emerge from the war the real winners remains to be seen.  I think that the longer these kinds of open-ended military engagements drag on, the worse their odds look.

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