Here’s a facet of the whole Afghanistan calamity that a lot of folks may not have yet considered; the place is full of valuable and strategically important rare-earth metals, and China is in a great position to take advantage of this. Pakistan and Russia have plans for the area, too. None of these things are to the United States’ advantage. Excerpt:
China is clearly positioning itself to be a major international partner to the Taliban. They could care less about human or gender rights in Afghanistan, and will only want to consolidate a dominant position in regard to the $1-2 trillion worth of rare earths — most notably lithium. As China seeks to consolidate as much control as they can over strategic supply chains for everything from microchips to electric car batteries, they want primacy in Kabul — and will be the first major nation to recognize the new regime.
For Pakistan, this is a moment of triumph. They have assiduously supported the Taliban for the past two decades, both to control terrorist groups that occasionally threaten Pakistan and to deny India a foothold in a country on the other side of their border. Closely aligned with China internationally, they will seek to partner with the Chinese in exploiting the mineral wealth and blocking India from a role with the Taliban regime. Pakistan also wants a certain level of stability to avoid mass illegal migration, something they have dealt with repeatedly from Afghanistan.
Russia has a different set of interests than the China-Pakistan axis. They seek first and foremost a stable situation that can reduce the propensity for radical Islamic terrorism exported north through the former republics of the old Soviet Union.
And while Putin is always happy to see the U.S. receive a black eye, the Russians are also hopeful that the Taliban can be encouraged to exert a higher level of control over the massive heroin production — much of which ends up in the arms of young Russians and other Europeans. Look for Russia to quickly recognize the Taliban, ignore any human or gender rights violations, and offer modest assistance in return for stability and at least some level of reduction in the narcotics trade.
Not only is this the biggest screw-up in American military history since Pickett’s Charge (which was, arguably, Lee’s charge, as he ordered it) but it’s a screw-up on the international trade scene as well.
Even without the rare-earth metals, Afghanistan is in kind of a key position; it’s nowhere, but it’s on the way to everywhere in central Asia. And now that America, the UK and the EU nations are out of the picture, that leaves the door open for China and Russia to swing a big economic bat in the region, and believe you me, neither nation has any warm-fuzzies for the United States.
And Pakistan? Ostensibly a U.S. “ally,” Pakistan has watched America’s disorganized assholes-and-elbows retreat from Afghanistan and is now in the position of still having a traditional enemy on one side (India) and the Taliban, who they have long supported, on the other. And Pakistan has nuclear weapons.
The world is now looking at the United States and seeing it as the image of its “leader” – weak, feckless, incoherent and doddering. And nothing good for us will come of that.