No more opium, no more money for Afghan villagers

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by PartTimePongo, Aug 5, 2009.

Welcome to the Army Rumour Service, ARRSE

The UK's largest and busiest UNofficial military website.

The heart of the site is the forum area, including:

  2. So where is all the AID money that should be paying the locals NOT to grow opium going. CORRUPTION DOWN TO THE LOCAL AREA UNDER THE SUPERVISION OF British Forces>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>...

    Cost of aid and military action in Afghanistan. 2002 to 2009.

    British mil costs 8.5 billion.
    Ministry of Defence
    Main Estimates 2009–10
    Ninth Report of Session 2008–09

    USA mil costs 252.0 billion.

    EU mil costs: Down to individual country’s to supply and pay. Some info here.

    UK aid £600 Million.
    The £3m pledged by Mr Alexander brings the total amount of UK humanitarian aid to Afghanistan to £124m since 2001.
    Since 2001 the UK has also spent £490 million on reconstruction and development in the country.
    Last December, Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced a further commitment of £450 million to Afghanistan between 2009 and 2012.

    USA aid. Included in mil costs to adjust £ to $ exchange rate.

    EU aid 8 billion

    Total cost approx £270 BILLION.

    Population estimated 30 million.

    Cost per head of population Approx £10.000.

    £1 buys £20 worth of goods in Afghanistan so EACH and EVERY man woman and child has rec’d £200.000 between 2001 and 2009.

    Just think about a 5 member family? Equates to 1 MILLION POUNDS.

    This money is cash in the hand.

    If the locals were given this money as payment for fighting and killing ALL the AQ and Taleban would the UK have needed to send any troops to Afghoonistan?
  3. Oops, sorry I asked.
  4. The last I saw, most of the aid money we had was being ploughed into Sangin. The DC had become pretty benign, but on the outskirts wewere placing motion sensors in primary school yards to alert us if anyone was setting IEDs overnight. Not for us, but to kill/main children as it was a school that welcomed female students!

    You can throw tonnes of money at the problem, but unless you have a feck load of troops to prevent insane acts like this, you ain't going to solve the problem in a hurry.

    We were never directed to carry out counter narcotic operations of any kind against farmers, we would only confiscate opiates if a stash was found with a haul of weapons/explosives etc. Everyone is now well aware that to remove these farmers livelihoods without presenting them a viable alternative is preposterous.
  5. Biped

    Biped LE Book Reviewer

    He's got a point. Smackheads and the opium trade aside, if the government, in the middle of an insurgency impoverishes large sections of the population through sanctions on the principle trade, the people are going to get uppity and will see the government as the enemy, and the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

    If they remove the principle trade, they have to replace it with something of equal value to the general population, but which has little or no value for the insurgents.

    It's got to be one or the other. Legalise the opium trade through official, government-sanctioned routes for medicinal use, or replace it with something that allows the desperately poor people of Afghanistan to live.
  6. Biped, I think it's a case of both of your solutions working in harmony. Helmand province alone produces enough opiates from one year's crops to keep the NHS stocked at current levels of demand for 2,500 years!

    A viable alternative has to be found, be it wheat or expensive "Fair Trade" organic legumes for Waitrose. The only problem being that poppies are a particularly hardy crop and can grow in places other cash crops would struggle (the lads from the Mortars even tried growing some on the roof of their grot!).

    Another issue is the ease with which poppies can be cultivated. It is an easy crop to grow and maintain to harvest, once the stalks are above the bund lines, there is very little weeding required, and a four year old boy could keep the irrigation ditches working all season (because they do).

    Planting more troublesome/less hardy crops means that farmers will have to work harder (something they are reluctant to do in my experience) and, worse, the financial security of their family is placed at greater risk. Don't forget, there is no CAP and there are very few banks out there. If your crop goes tits up, some of your family will very probably die, no matter how much the rest of the village helps out.

    I can't see an easy answer to this one.
  7. Compensating the peasants for not growing the crop or even finding another crop for them to grow just isn't the answer because any subsequent reduction in the crop will increase the value of the Taliban's crop. The only way to eradicate the poppy as a crop is to either flood the market with a cheaper alternative or to make not growing the crop so financially rewarding that the peasants, even in Taliban controlled areas, make more money out of not growing the crop than they would out of growing it.
  8. OldSnowy

    OldSnowy LE Moderator Book Reviewer

    The Talibs are far from daft. If you coerce the locals into growing wheat or other crops the 'taxes' on those still get paid to the bad men. In the case of government-supplied wheat seed the tax last year was, I believe, twice that levied on poppy.

    Narcotics - and don't forget the enormous quantities of hashish as well as opium - are a sympton, not a cause. They are an opportunistic infection that comes with disorder and lack of good governance. this was and is the case in other areas - Burma, Thailand, Turkey, Columbia, you name it.

    Good governance = less narcotic production. Disorder and chaos = more.
  9. I totally agree with you but the only answer to that is to eradicate or render useless the Taliban throughout Afghanistan, or to make peace with them in which case we are back to square one.
  10. I reckon thats the best bet, using the money generated to build infrastructure and invest in the future. It'll also decrease the amount of aid we need to give and hit Terry's wallet. It's what they do best, growing poppies, and getting them to change to something else will be like ice-skating uphill. Kinda makes sense really..
  11. Ord_Sgt

    Ord_Sgt RIP

    Opium is merely a symptom, we need to treat the cause.

    Poppys are not the problem, but the presence of destabilising taliban fighters. Enough troops are needed to drive them out then dominate ALL the ground 24/7 and seal the borders to prevent more coming in. There are not nearly enough troops to do that, so on a tactical level we kick arrse, withdraw to bases and do the same a week later. On a strategic level its a road to nowhere.
  12. Whatever is done it's going to cost a loada dosh. A large part of what's going wrong, in my opinion, is that the US, UK and other nations are trying to solve uniquely Afghan problems with Western solutions and showing a marked reluctance to adapt. This was illustrated in a recent article I read in the following way: a project is drawn up that costs, say, USD 100 million. About 40 million of that sum will be swallowed direct in the US by planning etc. Then the project is sub-contracted to, more or less, local firms for 30 million and another 30 million earmarked for security carried out by private thug companies. The result is that the project is never finished because of lack of funds. Another point is that a lot of the Western "aid" and security folks are on the make themselves, since there's no joined-up military/civilian aid overall plan.

    However, I said that whatever happens is going to cost dosh, so why not use a chunk of it slated for Affers to train up a whole battalion (or two) of Ghurkas. They could be those who *almost* made it into the British Army, or retirees from the British or Indian Army. Brief the lads and then send them in to do their thing as a sort of semi-official security group with corresponding pay. The Afghans very much respect them, and even the Taleban know that if they try anything on, the Ghurkas will seriously fück them up. They'd certainly get the job done if they were given a reasonable timeframe of, say, six or seven years.

    But what do I know.

  13. Ord_Sgt

    Ord_Sgt RIP

    Nothing, clearly ;)
  14. That just wont work. To begin with there is already more than enough medicinal opium available so it would just be bought to rot away or be destroyed. The more legal opium is bought then the less illegal opium there is on the market so the price goes shooting up bringing in more revenue for the Taliban. If you relax controls on opium growing then there is a glut and the price goes down, producing less revenue for the Taliban but the effects would be felt throughout the western world as heroin became the 'drug of choice' due to it's low cost.
  15. Some of your post is factually incorrect, Markintime. There's actually a serious worldwide shortage of medicinal opiates.

    If the Septics, Brits and the rest really do want to make a difference and "win" in Affers, they should adopt realistic policies (and co-ordinate them in detail), rather than just relying on the same unworkable tactics of malletting the Taleban as often as they can. That's been proved to be a road to nowhere, unless they're prepared to commit at least 500,000 to 600,000 troops for the next ten years.

    Instead they could do much worse than adopt such policies as laid out here:

    With this, even at this late stage in the game, they could still genuinely win hearts and minds. At least it's worth a cabby.