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Published:June 15th, 2010 22:28 EST
Who Believes We're in Afghanistan to Bring Democracy?

Who Believes We're in Afghanistan to Bring Democracy?

By Djelloul (Del) Marbrook (Editor/Mentor)

It seems the United States has known for a long time that Afghanistan is loaded with mineral wealth, and the Russians have known even longer. It explains a lot. Who really thought we were there to bring democracy to warring tribes who practice their own version?

The Obama Administration, hard put to explain why it has persevered in George W. Bush`s misadventures in the Middle East and Central Asia, and harder on leaks to the press than the Bush-Cheney people, has now leaked to the press an account of Afghanistan`s fabulous mineral wealth.

Fancy that. It`s not so much a leak as sleight of hand. There have been previous stories. But the Administration is under the gun to explain why we can afford a war in Afghanistan but can`t afford decent services for our people.

So now we know, if we didn`t before, that Afghanistan has emeralds and sapphires and gold and copper and more lithium than Bolivia, our main source. But there`s a little problem. The Afghans are considerably more corrupt than we are and considerably better at it. So that mineral wealth and efforts to extract it might just intensify the war and give rise to more corruption than Afghanistan`s poppies have.

But them`s the breaks. The Administration needed to justify its loony policies. The generals needed to justify their grandiose strategies. So now we risk making Hamid Karzai KIng Midas and handing over a bonanza to the Taliban or China or both, just as we bankrupted ourselves in Iraq to hand it over to Iran`s influence.

It gets worse. Much worse. The Administration confesses to The New York Times, which broke " the somewhat tainted story, that it`s worried about Afghanistan`s culture of corruption. More than it`s worried about our own Minerals Management Service in the Interior Department, which has been serving as a handmaiden to the offshore drillers? The Administration has done little to nothing to reform MMS, but it`s worried about corruption in Afghanistan.

I say give each of our soldiers an emerald and get the hell out of there.

Oh, but the point, you see, Mr. Marbrook, is that we can`t get out of there now because we want those minerals. Oh yeah, I see. So how many more thousands of soldiers do we need to guard the corporations that plan to exploit all that mineral wealth? And what will the Taliban and their Pakistani pals be doing while we rationalize another surge?

But did you see, sir, that the Russians just declined Kyrgystan`s plea for help to quell ethnic violence? The Russians said, We`ve been watching events in Iraq and Afghanistan closely and we conclude it`s not in our interests to send troops. Seems like the Russians are learning the lessons we have inoculated ourselves against.

It`s all too pat, this revelation " about Afghanistan`s mineral riches. The Russians knew about them and took their geological surveys with them when they pulled out. That means the Taliban knew about them, too. So by pulling this rabbit out of the hat who does the Administration seek to fool? Certainly not our enemies. No, it must be us our Administration is trying to fool.

And what does it want, besides all that tax money we seem willing to spend on war but not on peace? It wants more of our children, more blood to spill, more flag-waving, more coffins, and an Arlington National Cemetery that cannot even bury our heroes decently.

Djelloul (jeh-lool) Marbrook was born in 1934 in Algiers to a Bedouin father and an American painter. He grew up in Brooklyn, West Islip and Manhattan, New York, where he attended Dwight Preparatory School and Columbia. He then served in the U.S. Navy.

His book of poems, Far From Algiers, won the Stan and Tom Wick Poetry Prize from Kent State University in 2007 and was published in 2008. His story, Artists Hill, adapted from the second novel of an unpublished trilogy, won the Literal Latté first prize in fiction in 2008. His poems have been published in The American Poetry Review, Barrow Street, poemeleon, The Same, and other journals. The pioneering e-book publisher, Online Originals (UK), published his novella, Alice MIller`s Room, in 1999.

He worked as a reporter for The Providence Journal and as an editor for The Elmira (NY) Star-Gazette, The Baltimore Sun, The Winston-Salem Journal & Sentinel and The Washington Star. Later he worked as executive editor of four small dailies in northeast Ohio and two medium-size dailies in northern New Jersey.

Del`s book, Far From Algiers:

New review of Far from Algiers:

Artists Hill, Literal Latté`s fiction first prize:

His blog:

His mother`s art:

His aunt`s art:


Far From Algiers Video Trailer #1 from Brent Robison on Vimeo.