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Posted: 10/8/2007 5:28:51 PM EST
The US is pushing hard to be allowed to aerially spray herbicide on poppy fields in Afghanistan, especially in the Helmand province. Karzai is wisely resisting.

Atlantic article

The newish US ambassador to A-stan, William Wood, has no experience in Central Asia, South Asia, the Islamic or Arabic world. But he was last posted in Colombia.

A-stan is too important to be treated as a War on Drug problem, even if it could work. But it won't.

After thinking a lot about this, it is a very, very bad idea. I know the opium poppies, and the heroin that is increasing being produced in A-stan, is essentially an ATM for the Taliban. But aerial spraying, and crop destruction generally, is bound to failure.

We've been doing this for years in Colombia, and the price of cocaine on the street is down, and the quality is up.

Innocent crops are destroyed. If farmers can't make money from their poppies, they're going to work for whoever pays. In the Helmand province, that's being a Taliban soldier.

Aerial glyposphate will contaminate the open ditch drinking water sources of the locals in this arid region.

Plus, I can only image the conspiracy theories that will be spawned in a population prone to them.

In sum, impoverishing people already on the brink of starvation in a war-wrecked, hostile, agriculturally marginal and weird country is a bad idea and won't work anyway.
Link Posted: 10/8/2007 7:04:01 PM EST
Since the Taliban is being financed by the sale of the poppy, I don't agree. Regards
Link Posted: 10/9/2007 5:39:28 AM EST
First of all, eliminating some (or even most) of the crops will do nothing to very little for the Taliban's bottom line. It will just make what survives more expensive, and profitable. That's supply/demand stuff. And the demand isn't gonna change.

As to not feeling any sympathy for the poppy farmers, well that's just irrelevant. These are people living on the margins of subsistance. It's not like your neighbor deciding to grow pot for kicks, or for big money.

On this agriculturally marginal land, there are very few choices. This is exacerbated by the fact that A-stan is unsafe, and therefore no markets exist for alternative crops, even if they could be grown.

The reality is that people are gonna feed their families one way or another. If we remove the cash flow poppies are providing, many will likely join the Taliban as soldiers.

Further more, we will be alienating that part of A-stan society, the southern Pashtun people who are most likely to be sympathetic to the Taliban.

Why don't we (1) buy and destroy or (2) allow them to sell on the legitimate market like Turkey and New Zealand (among others). There is a real and legit market for this stuff (pharmaceuticals).

It isn't about whether you like these people, or whether you sympathize. It's about hearts and minds. Because the alternative is returning the country to a training camp and breeding ground for terrorists.

And there are smarter ways to reduce the Taliban's cash flow. I gave two ideas. I'm sure there are more.
Link Posted: 10/9/2007 5:48:45 AM EST
If you salt the earth and destroy any ability to grow crops and drugs, would you not shift the population out of the location and deny resources? We have problems with fighters in the mountains, destroy the resources. We need to be fighting this war with gloves off. The population does support the fighters in the mountains, or there would be no fighters in the mountains.

Do you also want to talk about the deceptive and corrupt way the local leaders are trying to arrange for crop destruction?
Link Posted: 10/9/2007 5:49:17 AM EST
[Last Edit: 10/9/2007 5:49:59 AM EST by millsusaf]

Originally Posted By batsox04:
First of all, eliminating some (or even most) of the crops will do nothing to very little for the Taliban's bottom line. It will just make what survives more expensive, and profitable. That's supply/demand stuff. And the demand isn't gonna change.

As to not feeling any sympathy for the poppy farmers, well that's just irrelevant. These are people living on the margins of subsistance. It's not like your neighbor deciding to grow pot for kicks, or for big money.

On this agriculturally marginal land, there are very few choices. This is exacerbated by the fact that A-stan is unsafe, and therefore no markets exist for alternative crops, even if they could be grown.

The reality is that people are gonna feed their families one way or another. If we remove the cash flow poppies are providing, many will likely join the Taliban as soldiers.

Further more, we will be alienating that part of A-stan society, the southern Pashtun people who are most likely to be sympathetic to the Taliban.

Why don't we (1) buy and destroy or (2) allow them to sell on the legitimate market like Turkey and New Zealand (among others). There is a real and legit market for this stuff (pharmaceuticals).

It isn't about whether you like these people, or whether you sympathize. It's about hearts and minds. Because the alternative is returning the country to a training camp and breeding ground for terrorists.

And there are smarter ways to reduce the Taliban's cash flow. I gave two ideas. I'm sure there are more.


+1 to everything you said.

It isn't the easy answer to the problem but in the end it is the best.

Unfortunately there isn't many people on this site nor in the world that can see past their nose to examine the larger issues.

You seem to be an exception!

Link Posted: 10/9/2007 6:16:19 AM EST
Napalm would work well.
Link Posted: 10/9/2007 7:15:08 AM EST
height=8
Originally Posted By MOS2111:
If you salt the earth and destroy any ability to grow crops and drugs, would you not shift the population out of the location and deny resources? We have problems with fighters in the mountains, destroy the resources. We need to be fighting this war with gloves off. The population does support the fighters in the mountains, or there would be no fighters in the mountains.

Do you also want to talk about the deceptive and corrupt way the local leaders are trying to arrange for crop destruction?


Which fighters, which mountains? The biggest base of opposition is from the south, less mountainous part of the country. These are the Pashtuns. Up the Hindu Kush, we have much more support from Ahmed Shah Massoud's (RIP) people, the Tajiks, as well as the Hazara, who are hated by the Sunni Pashtun. These are huge generalizations, but generally true for the last 1000 years or so.

There are any number of reasons why you can't just depopulate the entire Helmand province, even though there is some merit to that idea. Ethnic clashes, as well as the very different geography and climate throughout the country would likely create a famine.

As to corrupt targeting for crop destruction: that will remain. I bet dollars to donuts we'll spray in the Taliban areas like Helmand and ignore the poppies up north, where allied warlords grow and sell.

Is this really the way to win this country over? There is so much native opposition to the Taliban that the only way to lose this war is to (1) leave or (2) be worse then the Taliban. "Salting the earth" is exactly that.

The Afghan enemies of the Taliban will win if we properly support them. They would have won in the late 1990s except that the Taliban was receiving support from Pakistan and the Gulf states (not Alabama). And we left their enemies to rot, unsupported.

Link Posted: 10/9/2007 11:32:39 AM EST
I spent 3 years on Plan Colombia, and at least one Arf member is on the Afg spray program.

Is your mind made up that we are Drug Warrior Boogey Men, or are you willing to listen to other sides of the argument?

Link Posted: 10/9/2007 12:09:36 PM EST
[Last Edit: 10/9/2007 12:10:29 PM EST by El_Guapo]

Originally Posted By batsox04:

Why don't we (1) buy and destroy


I strongly approve of this plan. I don't feel like my tax dollars are wasted well enough here in America. I would love to have them wasted in other countries as well.
Maybe we could just pay them to NOT grow poppies. While we are at it, we could pay them to not grow other things as well.
Then we could pay the Taliban to not attack us.
You, sir, are a fountain of ideas!
Link Posted: 10/9/2007 2:18:58 PM EST
height=8
Originally Posted By PSYWAR1-0:
I spent 3 years on Plan Colombia, and at least one Arf member is on the Afg spray program.

Is your mind made up that we are Drug Warrior Boogey Men, or are you willing to listen to other sides of the argument?



I'm always willing to listen to ideas I don't initially agree with. And often I change my mind.

But on this thread, I'll I've heard are:

(1) screw the farmers, (2) a suggestion that naplaming civilians is cool, (3) an unsupported assertion that buying and destroying is a waste of money and tantamount to paying off the enemy - as though aerial spraying is free of costs both monetary and diplomatic, and (4) something about possibly dislocating people, which I admitted I did not understand but conceded how relocation might have certain advantages. The Brits used relocation to sucessfully quell Malay insurgency.

So, why is this a good idea? Has it really done any good in Colombia? Not if the street price and quality of cocaine is any indicator. Now, it may be that it's hurt the big Colombian drug lords, and that instead we have more smaller and less organized suppliers. I suppose this could be OK. But in light of alienating the civilian population and the Afghan elected government?

Make the case, or point me towards a good argument, or engage me in a rational, fact-based discussion. I'm skeptical but I'll listen.

Link Posted: 10/9/2007 3:00:26 PM EST
height=8
Originally Posted By El_Guapo:
height=8
Originally Posted By batsox04:

Why don't we (1) buy and destroy


I strongly approve of this plan. I don't feel like my tax dollars are wasted well enough here in America. I would love to have them wasted in other countries as well.
Maybe we could just pay them to NOT grow poppies. While we are at it, we could pay them to not grow other things as well.
Then we could pay the Taliban to not attack us.
You, sir, are a fountain of ideas!


Like the sarcasm. It's a persuasive rhetorical tool. See, I used it too. That's called irony.

Yeah, one of my alternatives has a cost. But so does this whole war. It would be cheaper to just stay home. But if we're there to win it, then it's a question of which costs and which strategies are most likely to be successful.
Link Posted: 10/9/2007 5:54:02 PM EST
Knowing way more than the avg American, but being "wise" () enough to know that I [still] don't know nearly enough to know shit about the region, I think this should probably not be amongst our first options/approaches to the problem.

I'd like to know/hear more about other options on the table, what we've already tried, what's worked, what's failed, what's still up-in-the-air, etc.
Link Posted: 10/10/2007 2:22:24 PM EST

Originally Posted By batsox04:
The US is pushing hard to be allowed to aerially spray herbicide on poppy fields in Afghanistan, especially in the Helmand province. Karzai is wisely resisting.

Atlantic article

The newish US ambassador to A-stan, William Wood, has no experience in Central Asia, South Asia, the Islamic or Arabic world. But he was last posted in Colombia.

A-stan is too important to be treated as a War on Drug problem, even if it could work. But it won't.

After thinking a lot about this, it is a very, very bad idea. I know the opium poppies, and the heroin that is increasing being produced in A-stan, is essentially an ATM for the Taliban. But aerial spraying, and crop destruction generally, is bound to failure.

We've been doing this for years in Colombia, and the price of cocaine on the street is down, and the quality is up.

Innocent crops are destroyed. If farmers can't make money from their poppies, they're going to work for whoever pays. In the Helmand province, that's being a Taliban soldier.

Aerial glyposphate will contaminate the open ditch drinking water sources of the locals in this arid region.

Plus, I can only image the conspiracy theories that will be spawned in a population prone to them.

In sum, impoverishing people already on the brink of starvation in a war-wrecked, hostile, agriculturally marginal and weird country is a bad idea and won't work anyway.


A-stan is irrelevant...

Period...

It's an operational theater, which has little bearing on the overal WOT...

Unlike Iraq it has little strategic value, Al Queda has moved on...

We are there for reputation reasons (proving we won't abandon the Afghani people) and dealing with the opium problem will HAVE TO BE DONE before we leave...

Ousting the Taliban to turn the country into another Colombia or Bolivia is just STU-PID!
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