Skip to main content

Common Dreams. Journalism funded by people, not corporations.

There has never been—and never will be—an advertisement on our site except for this one: without readers like you supporting our work, we wouldn't exist.

No corporate influence. No pay-wall. Independent news and opinion 365 days a year that is freely available to all and funded by those who support our mission: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good.

Our mission is clear. Our model is simple. If you can, please support our Fall Campaign today.

Support Our Work -- No corporate influence. No pay-wall. Independent news funded by those who support our mission: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. Please support our Fall Campaign today.

Trump appears committed to the belief that mineral extraction "could be one justification for the United States to stay engaged in" Afghanistan, the New York Times reported. (Photo: DVIDSHUB/Flickr/cc)

Colonialism and Greed: Trump Considers Afghan War Expansion to Exploit Minerals

Trump is reportedly being encouraged by corporate executives to take advantage of Afghanistan's mineral wealth

Jake Johnson

As the 16th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan approaches, President Donald Trump is reportedly being pressured by a billionaire financier and a chemical executive to extend the scope of the conflict for one simple, greedy reason: to exploit Afghanistan's mineral reserves.

"This is like free PR for the Taliban about U.S. intentions under Trump."
—Laura Rozen, AI Monitor

According to James Risen and Mark Landler of the New York Times, the Trump administration is "considering sending an envoy to Afghanistan to meet with mining officials" as the president is receiving encouragement from Stephen Feinberg, the billionaire head of DynCorp, and Michael Silver, the head of American Elements, a firm that specializes in "extracting rare-earth minerals."

"In 2010, American officials estimated that Afghanistan had untapped mineral deposits worth nearly $1 trillion," Risen and Landler note. This large figure reportedly "caught the attention of" the president, who has in the past argued that the biggest failure of the U.S. in Iraq was not"taking" the country's oil.

Trump is hardly the first president to notice and eagerly examine Afghanistan's mineral reserves.

"In 2006, the George W. Bush administration conducted aerial surveys of the country to map its mineral resources," Risen and Landler note. "Under President Barack Obama, the Pentagon set up a task force to try to build a mining industry in Afghanistan—a challenge that was stymied by rampant corruption, as well as security problems and the lack of roads, bridges or railroads."

Nonetheless, Trump appears to be committed to the belief that mineral extraction "could be one justification for the United States to stay engaged in the country," despite warnings from security analysts that such a strategy could risk further deadly confrontations with the Taliban.

"That sort of habit makes some people rich in the business world, at the expense of making others poor. When you're talking about global politics and terrorism, however, people die, and nations fail." 
—Adam Clark Estes, Gizmodo

If Trump moves forward with a mineral extraction plan, Eric Levitz of New York Magazine adds, there is a serious "danger of feeding the Taliban top-notch propaganda. It's hard to win hearts and minds, when you're also trying to win minerals and mines."

But as Gizmodo's Adam Clark Estes observes, such concerns are unlikely to move Trump, whose "greed has led the man to leave a path of destruction behind him on his pursuit of profit and glory."

"That sort of habit makes some people rich in the business world, at the expense of making others poor," Estes writes. "When you're talking about global politics and terrorism, however, people die, and nations fail."

As Common Dreams reported earlier this month, the Trump White House has been consulting with high-profile war profiteers who have argued that the way forward in Afghanistan is to further privatize military operations in the country. White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon and senior advisor Jared Kushner reportedly "recruited" both Feinberg and Blackwater founder Erik Prince to lay out a war plan for the president.

Critics denounced this development as a step toward "colonialism," and commentators had similar words for Trump's apparent attraction to Afghanistan's mineral wealth.

Law professor and former White House lawyer Andy Wright concluded that the Times report lays bare Trump's "British Empire thinking," which places plunder over "threat-based security."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Watch: Bernie Sanders Argues 'We Must End the Greed of Big Pharma'

The live address comes as the Senate Budget Committee chair continues to push for including Medicare expansion and drug pricing reforms in the Build Back Better package.

Common Dreams staff ·


Reconciliation Framework 'Not Enough' to Push Through Infrastructure Bill, Progressives Warn

"We need to have a vote ready for the Build Back Better plan, not a framework," insisted Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. "We want to have both of these votes together."

Brett Wilkins ·


McDonald's Workers Join 'Striketober' and Walk Out Over Sexual Harassment

One striker participated because "McDonald's still refuses to take responsibility for the countless women and teenagers who face harassment on the job at its stores across the globe."

Jessica Corbett ·


Breaking: FDA Panel Recommends Pfizer Covid-19 Vaccine for Kids 5 to 11

With just one abstention, the advisory panel voted 17-0 to approve the vaccine for younger children which scientific review has deemed both safe and effective against the deadly virus.

Common Dreams staff ·


Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo