THE NEGOCE OF AFGHANISTAN IS OPIATES, SO NEGOTIATE.
(Ten French paratroopers died on August 19, 2008, in an ambush by 150 heavily armed Talibans, an hour east of Kabul. Another 21 got wounded. French troops and Taliban were so close, air strikes could not be conducted. This is typical of the deterioration in Afghanistan, where the West has pursued a mostly purely military strategy. Three days later, in just one NATO aerial strike, seventy six Afghan civilians were killed.)
The current Western strategy in Afghanistan is erroneous. That is why the West cannot win. Bombs from planes and terror from Western stormtroopers examining villages (but not inside the houses) don’t work. To throw more troops in without the correct strategy will only insure a greater defeat (to Moscow’s delight).
The Taliban fights with support from the unenlightened population. As the Taliban liberates terrain, the natives are allowed to enjoy more income from opiates (and that, in turn finances the Taliban).
Euro-America wants the Afghans more enlightened. But that would be a gigantic effort for the Afghan population. So the Afghans need to be given something in exchange for this effort they are begged to engage in.
The only bargaining chip the West has is to legalize the drug trade in the areas NATO controls, because that is the only thing the Afghan population can get that it wants. Legalization of opiates means command and control, and support of the population. One can put pressure on Pakistan, and encourage it to come to its senses. But this forgets a not-so-little detail: Pakistan is a fundamentalist Muslim State. Given this, it’s unlikely that it will deeply change. The same holds for Afghanistan.
Schools are not everything: the rot has to be extricated from the fruit first.
The war between obscurantism (so called “terrorism”) and the West is deep down a war between the West and the literal interpretation of the Qur’an. In 1300 CE Egypt, one could go to jail for “literalism”. Now the West supports fundamentalist Muslim regimes in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Why not Iran, as we are at it?
Instead, the West should make offers to tribal chiefs that they cannot refuse. That should include the drug trade, because that’s the only fast source of cash. The opiate production, once flooding the West could be directed to the pharmaceutical industry (or stored meanwhile, as the legal production of opiates in the West is reduced to compensate for the influx from Afghanistan). In the long run, of course, a half enlightened Afghanistan could grow other things.
(By the way, in case somebody asks, I don’t do drugs, not even alcohol or tobacco, never did. This proposition is purely to help the mentally challenged West in Afghanistan reorient itself according to the most basic common sense: short of exterminating people, one has to negotiate with them; the negoce of Afghanistan is opiates, so that’s it.)
P/S: Some say: “Just make peace, those people are defending themselves, they never hurt a fly, except among themselves, and, besides, they were never conquered, so it’s hopeless, etc.” Then those moralists feel noble, and good about themselves. But are they right? That’s what we mostly want to know.
We will answer some deeper questions connected to this pacifist point of view in another essay, but let’s point out this:
0) I view my point of view as pacifist, simply the timescale I use is very large.
1) Alexander the Great’s Macedonians (33O BCE), Islam and the Mongols conquered Afghanistan durably.
2) We are not after the Afghans, but after a system of thought, literal Quranist Islam.
3) That system of thought is intrinsically fascist, and fascism is best killed in the egg, and far away.
4) JUST AS WAR CAN MAKE PEACE, PEACE CAN MAKE WAR. Peace at all cost is another word for war.
5) Licit opiates production occurs in Spain, Australia, France, Turkey and India.
6) After writing the preceding, I came across the article on the drug trade in Afghanistan in Wikipedia. It concurs with my views. Here is an extract: “A licensing system would bring farmers and villages into a supportive relationship with the Afghan government, instead of alienating the population by destroying their livelihood, and provide the economic diversification that could help cultivators break ties with the illicit opium trade.
The International Narcotics Control Board states that an over production in licit opiates since 2000 has led to stockpiles in producing countries ‘that could cover demand for two years’. Thus, some say Afghan opium would contribute to an already oversupplied market and would potentially cause the supply and demand imbalance that the UN control system was designed. However, the World Health Organisation points out that there is an acute global shortage of poppy-based medicines such as morphine and codeine.”
7) Pashtuns are on both sides of the frontier with Pakistan. Maybe a process towards a Kosovo like solution could be implemented, as an other bargaining chip for the 42 million Pashtuns?