As the Americans and British pull out of Afghanistan, the Chinese and Indians are standing by to move in and extract its mineral wealth. But:

Dr Richard Weitz, Senior Fellow and Director of the Center for Political-Military Analysis at Hudson Institute said: “From our perspective, China should have done more in terms of security. From their perspective, they didn’t need to; they could free-ride, we were going to do it anyway. They didn’t see any point because all they would do is incur a lot of sacrifice and antagonise the Taliban and the global terrorist movement, and they’d rather let us incur that.”

Why aren’t Western countries going in there themselves?

Peter Galbraith, former deputy head of the UN mission in Afghanistan, said: “Western companies are exceptionally timid when it comes to operating in places where there is even the remotest hint that it might be a little risky, and the Chinese are not and are willing to go to these places. And the Chinese have business practices that Western countries … let’s just say that Chinese generosity towards local officials exceeds that of what Western companies are capable.”

I guess some might argue trade is good for Afghanistan and hence for us if trade leads to a stable prosperous economy. But as I have made it to Chapter 4 of Acemoglu and Robinson’s Why Nations Fail, I worry that Afghanistan will adopt “extractive political institutions” and all this trading will lead nowhere except a Swiss bank account.

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