Tuesday, April 6, 2010

"Our Man" in Afghanistan

Maybe.  But for how long?

One of my friends sent us this story from AP/Washington Post, along with an open-ended question about what to do with the dapper corruptocrat:

My response earlier was:

From everything I've heard, Karzai's up to his fez in corruption, especially since he's sitting on top of 90% of the world's opium. I'm not sure what the best course would be since all the options suck. Some sort of containment strategy maybe?

Comrade Karla then responded:

He may still remain the best of a bunch of bad options. I think we should have perhaps known this going in--maybe we did, I'm not really sure based on what I've been seeing.

Then his dad had this to say:

The price of opium, said to be the principal crop of the farmers in Kandahar, seems to be of critical economical importance. Important to the farmers and to Karzai himself. As long as that remains so, even if it applies only in Kandahar, I see no prospect of changing anything. Does the economic factor apply throughout the country? If it does, then the UN/US have two simple choices for military success in Afghanistan. Find a suitable replacement for Karzai or nuke the entire country back to the Stone Age and live with the consequences. Of course, the US/UN could also opt to forgo military success and withdraw in disgust, but the situation and the threat would persist. Another option might be artificially boosting the price of coffee or other suitable crop so the farmers would not lose a significant part of their livelihood if given a choice between that and the very profitable opium industry. But that doesn’t seem to stand up under much scrutiny. How does the US government deal with the narcotic industry as it applies in the US? Brute force? No, that doesn’t seem to be working. Ignore it? That seems, essentially to be what is happening at present. Has that been successful? Who benefits from the situation at present? Who would benefit in Afghanistan if there were no opium?

More questions than answers swirl around about what to do with "our ally."

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