Soldiers from the United States Armed Forces on patrol in Iraq; 2012

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You joke (and I agree that the commenter above you’s an asshat) but Afghan is actually [sitting on top of a shit-ton of rare-earth elements](http://www.livescience.com/47682-rare-earth-minerals-found-under-afghanistan.html), which are desperately needed for the production of a lot of modern technology. Of course they didn’t influence the decision to invade – I’m not sure that demand for REEs was so high or that people even knew Afghanistan *had* them in 2001.

All that said, if Afghanistan can develop these resources independently (i.e. without their leaders pawning them off to the Americans, the Europeans, or, more realistically, the Chinese) they could have a surprisingly not-bleak economic future for the next half-century.

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