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News of Afghanistan's mineral wealth deepens suspicion of US aims

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The Pentagon’s announcement that Afghanistan possesses $1 trillion worth of unexploited minerals will have the unintended consequence of confirming one of the most deeply entrenched conspiracy theories among Afghans.

Many Afghans I have spoken with believe firmly that America wants to permanently occupy the country in order to take Afghan land and resources. Even educated Afghan friends who generally support a temporary US presence have told me the same. I had to laugh when one suggested that Americans would want to move to Afghanistan to snatch up Afghan land for homes.

This fear has flourished despite – not because of – American rhetoric. Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld famously dismissed the country, saying there weren't any good bombing targets in Afghanistan. President Obama has set a timeline for troops to begin withdrawing.

But Afghans are proud of their country. And, for many Afghans, it makes no sense that the United States cannot wrap up the Taliban – so an imperialist land grab becomes a plausible explanation.

Having the Pentagon announce a quiet survey of Afghanistan's is just the "evidence" that will confirm deep suspicions that the US is really there looking for war booty. And that won't help American troops trying to win the trust of a population famous for tiring of invaders.

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