Erik Prince, founder of Blackwater and brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, wants to be viceroy of Afghanistan and extract its valuable minerals.
Given his family connections to a member of President Trump’s cabinet, and his closeness to former White House strategist Steve Bannon, Erik Prince has an unprecedented level of access to the president, making his pitch to privatize the war in Afghanistan all the more likely. BuzzFeed News obtained Prince’s slide presentation and published it on Thursday.
In the 19-page presentation, Prince lays out his vision for Afghanistan, which has been occupied by U.S. forces since 2001, to transition to a privatized effort under the guise of saving U.S. troops and taxpayer dollars. A spokesperson for Prince told BuzzFeed News that Frontier Services Group — Prince’s security and logistics company in China — would play a key role in the implementation of the plan, meaning Prince would profit tremendously from such an arrangement.
Instead of being funded by the federal defense budget, Prince’s effort would be “a strategic mineral resource extraction funded effort that breaks the negative security economic cycle.” Prince’s “phase one” mentions the mining of lithium and rare earth element deposits:
The presentation is the latest effort by Prince to launch an “East India Company approach” to Afghanistan, which he also called for in a Wall Street Journal op-ed. The East India Tea Company, at its peak, had a private army of 260,000 soldiers which were used to colonize South Asian territories and subjugate locals in the 18th and 19th centuries.
“[The East India Company] almost certainly remains the supreme act of corporate violence in world history,” wrote The Guardian’s William Dalrymple in 2015. “For all the power wielded today by the world’s largest corporations – whether ExxonMobil, Walmart or Google – they are tame beasts compared with the ravaging territorial appetites of the militarised East India Company.”
A spokesman for the Department of Defense told BuzzFeed News that Secretary of Defense James Mattis heard Prince’s presentation earlier this year. However, The Atlantic reported that the Pentagon has so far remained opposed to the idea of privatizing the Afghan war effort.
Jordan Shaw is a New Jersey-based freelancer specializing in national and state government issues. When he’s not writing, you can find him volunteering in Camden, New Jersey, or hiking the Wissahickon Valley Park.