President Trump has been uninterested in sending troops to Afghanistan. He has been at odds with Defense Secretary Mattis and National Security Adviser General McMaster who have suggested we send troops. Trump begrudgingly authorized Mattis to send roughly 4,000 troops to Afghanistan, but Mattis has yet to send them, perhaps acknowledging the President’s hesitation.
Adviser’s Find a New Approach
Advisers have recently found a new approach that is proving more successful in swaying the President. President Trump is reportedly quite interested in the prospect of Afghanistan’s vast mineral wealth.
The country is full of rare minerals that offer the potential for profitable mining. The President has expressed the possibility of mineral wealth as a justification for sending more troops and continuing the US presence in Afghanistan.
In order to further explore the possibility of exploiting the countries mineral riches, the President is reportedly considering sending an envoy to Afghanistan to meet with mining officials. In 2010 officials estimated Afghanistan’s minerals were worth roughly $1 trillion.
That estimate was debated at the time and has since dropped, however, that is the number that has caught the attention of the President.
The People In The President’s Ear
The President’s senior advisers recently met with Michael N. Silver to discuss the possibility of mining in Afghanistan. Silver’s company, American Elements, specializes in the extraction of the rare-earth minerals found in abundance in Afghanistan.
President Trump is also being advised informally on the subject by Stephen A. Feinberg. Feinberg is a billionaire who owns a large military contracting firm, DynCorp International. Feinberg’s company could be involved largely to exploit the mineral wealth in Afghanistan.
DynCorp could be involved in guarding the mines. This will be a significant job as much of the countries mineral wealth lies in Taliban controlled areas of the country.
Laurel Miller is a senior analyst at RAND who also served until last month as the State Department’s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan warned, “It would be dangerous to use the potential for resource exploitation as a selling point for military engagement.” Miller continued, “The barriers to entry are really quite considerable, and that kind of argument could fuel suspicion about America’s real intentions in Afghanistan.”