29 April 2009

Afghanistan Update

A number of links today, courtesy of Abu Muqawama. The majority of these concern NATO's new offensive, attempting to cut the Taliban off from their opium, and thus, their funding.

We've talked about the difficulties of counter-narcotics missions in Third World countries--namely, that farmers are often not only intimidated into growing narcotics by terror networks (e.g., the FARC or the Taliban), and that farmers often resort to growing narcotics as it's the only viable cash crop that they can grow.

Abu Muqawama's readers weighed in on NATO's recent campaign. Fortunately, NATO is not waging an all-out eradication effort--similar efforts in Colombia have actually been counter-productive. When you attempt to burn something that reportedly makes up 60% of a country's GDP, you tend to alienate the population just a tad. Instead, NATO forces are attempting to root out Taliban forces (excellent NYT article) in the poppy fields and establish programs similiar to farm subsidies in the US. The local government will provide subsidies for farmers attempting to grow legitimate crops like wheat.

Another interesting Afghanistan update comes from Captain Carl Thompson, who wrote a piece entitled "Winning in Afghanistan". There's too much great stuff in this article to quote directly, but a lot of it deals with the corruption in the Afghan military and police. Some of it is outright laughable, until you realize that it's our tax money at work. Then again, it doesn't really surprise me that much.

(What that last link from Jason Sigger taught me is that if you lose one rifle, you and your entire battalion will play "hands across Fort Bragg", looking for the rifle for hours on end. You lose 100,000 rifles, eh, that's a statistic)

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