Afghanistan - A solution?

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by PartTimePongo, Nov 15, 2005.

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  1. Sorry , fairly lazy topic starter , but follows on from a post made in ST's Afghanistan thread.

    Is the key to solving the Afghanistan problem , controlling the production and distribution of opiates in the region?

    Could this problem be solved, and the locals enriched, by bringing opiate production under our auspices , protecting the farmers and their livelihood , as well as having secondary and tertiary benefits as regards medicine production and our own domestic drug problems?

    I envisage a situation where we control opiates. Now the warlords will want to move in on the action , so it means reaching an agreement with them to set up contolled farms from which we buy the produce, and sell to pharmaceutical companies at an agreed price.

    As regards historical precedent , didn't we do this before the first Afghan war , and only got kicked out after Elphinstone tried to diddle the warlords on their money? Didn't we actually gain Hong Kong in a similar initative?

    As I say , lazy topic starter, but I think some of you had some views on the subject , especially Mr. PVR'd.

    Is it a possible solution?

  2. msr

    msr LE

  3. The Economist has had a couple of articles about this over the last few months...

    This article reviews the Senlis idea which MSR referred to.

    Incidently, this article discusses why farmers like to grow poppies....
    1. Price!!! (at 2002 prices you could earn 60 dollars/hectare growing wheat or a whopping 15,000 dollars/hectare growing poppies)
    2. Poppies require less water than wheat and their irrigation systems are stuffed.
    3. Roads are stuffed and they can't transport bulky wheat to market (heroin goes on motorbikes).
    4. Once harvested you can store resin for years before processing to heroin.

  4. RTFQ


    The responsibility for implementing such an idea would likely fall on one of 2 organisations: the UN or the EU. It's certainly not in NATOs remit and the US could have tried something similar in S America years ago and didn't. The fact that those two are the only ones in line to take this on raises one major problem.

    They'll make a pig's ear of it.

    The EU won't concur on the way forward, and doesn't have the financial will to fight the supply/demand battle with the illegal trade. The UN...well, it's the UN - I'm not being flippant, I just balk at describing how unsuitable that corrupt, inept gang of bipedal primates would be at administering the global heroin trade.

    Next, and without donning my tinfoil tricorn, the Pharmaceutical industry will be slavering at the fangs over getting a piece of that particular cake. Their influence would scupper any EU attempt to agree on a solution. They would also be trying hard to prevent anyone controlling that crop without including them, it could cause some serious damage the industry, not to mention adversely affect the economies of the legal opiate-producing countries (who can ill afford to be muscled out of a multi billion $ trade). In short, an agreement would never leave Turtle Bay alive.

    It would also take much more than ARRC to persuade the bad guys to give up their raison d'etre and become nice, missunderstood islamic freedom fighters instead (like what their supposed to be). They'll fight, hard. I don't know how organised the global heroin trade is, but if they've got their act together to any degree, they could persue a worldwide assymetric conflict with greater reach and resources that AQ could ever muster.

    They'll also fight an economic battle. we won't be able to dominate the ground with the forces available in afghanistan. The illicit trade will just up what they're willing to pay, and the farmers will comply. Or the bad guys will be old fashioned and just make them deliver under pain of death. the illicit trade has the advantage in that its customers are willing to pay whatever it takes. A legal trade will be subservant to an industry that will not pay above the odds for afghan opium when they know they can go to their already established suppliers.

    I've not thought much into it, but my initial thoughts of an ideal solution would be to provide a permissive environment and let the big companies divvy up the afghan plains for themselves. The days of us being able to provide permissive environemnts anywhere other than small Sierra Leonian villages, however, are long gone. I also doubt that the overheads involved in operating from afghanistan would make business viable for the pharmaceutical industry.

    We could think outside the box and nuke the existing legal opium fields outside afghanistan. It would provide the aim, incentive and reason why for the pharm companies to sort out afghanistan for us - we just make ARRC a PMC and hey presto, job jobbed.
  5. The Afghan adventure is fcuked before it even starts.

    ARRC will be sucked into combat operations in the south against the Taleban, as the Yanks withdraw. The rest of NATO will say "fcuk that for a game of soldiers" and it will be brown envelopes all round as TCR scrabbles to fill the ranks in another attempt to maintain the Dear Leader's flagging libido and self-esteem.

    The chances of a drawdown in Iraq over the next 12 months? Hah!

    Torching the poppy fields will only generate unemployed farmers with no money and some time on their hands, and a few RPGs in the back of the hut. It is easy to see where that will lead....unless you live in No 10 or Whitehall.

    The most powerful weapon is money - we could pay the farmers to grow opium or beans or anything, as long as they were getting more cash to behave than they would otherwise. It would be cheaper than a long gruelling troop deployment, an argument that might move HMG in a way that the cost in lives obviously does not.
  6. "The Afghan adventure is fcuked before it even starts."

    Yes PVRd I agree on that.
  7. This problem is all about money - and needs to be considered as a whole. Tackling one part in isolation cannot succeed.

    Why are drugs big business - because people will pay money for them. The drug lords will fight back at any effort to stop opium production reaching them as long as they have a market for the product. That market funds their resistance. If they do fight back we're screwed because they can field larger forces then we plan to, they can afford better kit and have a more rapid procurement cycle. They can also lean on the locals.

    (As an aside try reading up on Colombia - the druggies tapped into the local telephone firm, plugged in their computers and got the tel no and address of everyone who rang the Govt anti-drugs hot line. Then they shot them. Think the MoD could react as fast and innovatively ?)

    So the only way - the only way - we can neutralise the drug lords is to cut off their money supply. That means supplying addicts free of charge at state expense.
  8. ...or neutralise the effect of the drug lords money by spending more than they can on the product.
  9. The drug lords can then up the price themselves - they just raise the price it's sold at to compensate. This causes more disruption over here as addicts have to rob more stuff to pay for their fix. As they are still getting an income they can afford to lean on the farmers to supply them using violence. Then we're into a shooting war. Unpalatable as it seems, I feel the only way to cut them out of the game is to cut off their income. Addicts are addicts, they're still going to want their fix so this leads inexorably back to the state providing said fix for them free of charge.
  10. It is obvious that USA+NATO are unable to solve the problem. So answer is an obvious one. Others should be involved, Russia for example. Significant part of Afghani drugs goes in Russian direction. And of course, Afghans themselves (not only tiny group of American puppets) should be involved in solution of the problem.

    Btw, Russia delivered military aid to Afghani government - $100 mln. - tanks, helicopters, planes and so on (including Kalashnikovs). But recently it was declared that the aid will be stopped in 2006. What is the reason to feed pro-American regime? And what are options for influental Nothern leaders (ethnically Uzbeks and Tdjiks)? They haven't power in Kabul. Why should they do anything for pro-American government? Only they, local leaders are able to stop drugs traffic.

    So only new Afghani government that would inlude representatives from all regions whould be able to solve tha task with help from USA, NATO, with Russian military aid. Yes, in this case it would not be openly pro-American government. So probably this variant will be never realised.
  11. "Afghans fight each other for pleasure but they fight a foreigner with fury" Given the late Soviet Union's experiences in Afghanistan, do you really think any Russian intervention in the Kingdom of Light is goint to be tolerated?!
  12. Yes Sergey , but what would you do as regards the Drugs issue? Don't forget , it funds terrorism and criminality in Russia as well..
  13. You are absolutely right. Look at my logic:

    1. Only Afghans are able to stop drug traffic.
    2. So strong army, police, special forces should be created.
    3. It require involvements of all non-Taleban factions in power-keeping.
    4. It require military aid (for many reasons mainly Russian made arms).

    So practical steps are obvious:

    1. New government should be established on multi-region, multi-ethnical basis.
    2. Local militias should be parts of Afghani army (Uzbeks led by general Dustum formed 10th(?) division in 80's).
    3. Russia should be invited as one of decision maker in Afghanistan.

    Btw, Taleban nearly stopped drug traffic, so the task is not unrealistic. Taleban used tough measures (including capital punishment). It is impossible for USA-NATO to repeat them but effective Afghani govermnet could do it and Western democracies would rather close eyes in this case.

    Economical measure could work in the future but unlikely. The only realistic way is a brutal force.
  14. "Afghans fight each other for pleasure but they fight a foreigner with fury" Given the late Soviet Union's experiences in Afghanistan, do you really think any Russian intervention in the Kingdom of Light is goint to be tolerated?![/quote]

    No of course. Russian intervention in Afghanistan? What is a possible reason? Drug traffic? Not too serious cause. Establishing pro-Russian government? Senseless idea. To help Americans? For what?
  15. msr

    msr LE

    And that didn't get your mob very far the last time they tried it... but then again it didn't us very far either.

    I'll wager sending soldiers to try to reduce drugs production will have two effects: 1) More dead soldiers 2) No impact whatsoever on the street price of drugs.