Patrick Doherty is the director of the Smart Strategy Initiative at the New America Foundation, a think tank that seeks innovative solutions across the political spectrum.
The news that Afghanistan's mineral wealth could exceed $1 trillion is an important opportunity for both Kabul and Washington to change the narrative from counterinsurgency to locally controlled sustainable development.
By doing so, the government of Hamid Karzai and the Obama administration can leverage a range of converging interests in South and Central Asia to put Afghanistan and the region finally on the only viable path to security - rising economic prosperity in the larger region.
Natural resources are both a blessing and a curse.
Geologists working with the Pentagon have found vast reserves of untapped minerals in Afghanistan that could be worth $1 trillion, according to reports.
But there are a lot of questions about just how hard it would be to actually get the minerals out of there and even some questions about the timing of the announcement. The military didn't just discover it. In fact, even though there was a lot of reporting about it on Monday, the report apparently was done years ago.
CNN talked with Joe Klein, a columnist at Time magazine and frequent reporter from Afghanistan, and Jack Medlin, a geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, who also just returned from Afghanistan about two weeks ago. The following is an edited version of the transcript. FULL POST
WASHINGTON — Gen. David Petraeus, the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, was escorted from a congressional hearing room after apparently choking during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing Tuesday. He later returned to applause, but the hearing was called off for the day.
Sen. Carl Levin, the committee's chairman, said Petraeus "appears to be doing very well" after the incident. "He's eating," Levin said. "He probably didn't have enough water to drink coming in here this morning."
WASHINGTON — Key senators questioned on Tuesday the progress and planning for U.S. efforts in Afghanistan.
Opening a hearing on Afghanistan, Sen. Carl Levin (D-Michigan), the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, questioned the ratio of U.S. and NATO troops to Afghanstan troops, urging for a faster ramping up of Afghan security forces.
"Progress towards the goal of Afghans taking the lead in operations has been unsatisfactory. Today operations in Afghanistan are excessively dependent on coaltion forces," Levin said. FULL POST
A 52-year-old American citizen who said he was searching for Osama bin Laden was detained in Pakistan near the border with Afghanistan this week, Pakistani police said Tuesday.
The Californian named Gary Faulkner was carrying a pistol, a sword, night-vision equipment and Christian religious books, said Mumtaz Ahmed, a police chief in the area. FULL POST