Motivations Unearthed: Re-Contextualizing the War in Afghanistan

Motivations Unearthed: Re-Contextualizing the War in Afghanistan

Source: Georgetown Public Policy Review, 2018

Author(s): Derrek Chung

Countries: Afghanistan

Topics: Conflict Causes, Extractive Resources

Added: 11/02/2018


The terror attacks on September 11, 2001, fundamentally reshaped our nation. The American psyche was left bruised and battered, leading United States foreign policy to take a decisive turn. As sadness turned to scorn, Congress passed the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF), providing legislative authorization for the War on Terror. On October 7, 2001, with the AUMF in hand, George W. Bush announced Operation Enduring Freedom, propelling the United States into a new theater of war: Afghanistan.

Sixteen years later, the War in Afghanistan has become the United States’ longest running conflict, and it’s most unpopular. By 2013, 82% of Americans opposed United States involvement in the country, a higher disapproval rate than the Vietnam War. However, a new administration is hoping to change the tides of public opinion by introducing a new selling point: the War in Afghanistan is an economic opportunity.


The $841 billion price tag the war has accumulated over the past sixteen years would say otherwise, but the administration’s proposition has nothing to do with war. It has everything to do with mining. Specifically, mining the estimated $1 trillion in mineral deposits hidden beneath Afghanistan’s soil that includes the world’s largest deposit of lithium60 million metric tons of copper, and 1.4 million tons of rare earth elements (REEs).


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