Page 1 of 5 123 ... LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 238

Thread: Afghanistan's Drug Problem

Hybrid View

Previous Post Previous Post   Next Post Next Post
  1. #1
    Small Wars Journal SWJED's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Largo, Florida
    Posts
    3,989

    Default Afghanistan's Drug Problem

    17 September Wall Street Journal commentary - Afghanistan's Catch-22 by Dana White.

    ... "In my 33 years in the military, I have never seen tougher terrain than here," says the general, who adds that the "vast majority of the country" is now secure. "There are about five or six provinces that have significant security challenges and they are primarily in rural areas." Translation: Kabul and major cities are calm, but in the southern and eastern provinces, where the government hasn't established its authority, violence prevails.

    In some regions, peace admittedly won't come easily, if at all. Take the border with Pakistan, which is roughly twice as long as California--and twice as mountainous. Gen. Eikenberry says the area can't physically be secured, no matter how many boots are planted on the ground. True, Pakistan has committed nearly 80,000 troops to the effort, but the general--while lauding the cooperation between the Pakistani and Afghan forces, which are old foes--avoids questions about why Taliban insurgents are still finding safe haven in Pakistan.

    Other areas, however, could be secured, and haven't been--particularly the southern provinces. In recent months, Taliban fighters seized on the transfer of control from U.S. to NATO forces and engaged in pitched battles. NATO's top commander said earlier this month that he needs 15% more troops to effectively roll back the Taliban threat. They may not get there before the Afghan winter sets in and the Taliban retreats into well-fortified caves.

    "The insurgents are better equipped and better trained than they were a year ago," Gen. Eikenberry says. "People often fail to understand the full complexity of the violence here. There are several causes for violence in these provinces, including land disputes, tribal feuds and property titles. Taliban fighters often capitalize on these existing divisions to garner support in local communities."

    Gen. Eikenberry understands the root of the problem. And it's a big one. In 2005, Afghanistan earned $2.7 billion in opium exports, or 52% of its GDP--plenty of cash to support an insurgency. That fighting has, in turn, basically halted all of the infrastructure build-out that was meant to provide Afghan farmers and other rural residents alternatives to growing poppy.

    "In traveling around the country, the top concern of Afghans is unemployment, education and irrigation," Gen. Eikenberry confirms. But to address these issues--and here's the catch-22--violence in rural Afghanistan must first be quelled. If it isn't, the infrastructure that will facilitate trade cannot be built...

  2. #2
    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Posts
    4,818

    Default Big problem

    The General hit the nail on the head about the drug problem. Families,tribes have been doing this ages. Until you can find a way to replace this source of income so they can take care of their families nothing will get done. Simple crop replacement will not work unless it provides the same level of income that the Afghan's are used to. It is true that this should be a Afghan police problem, however I doubt they can handle it.

    The other problem is that culture thing again. They really don't think they are doing anything wrong, and I suspect the US intervention is viewed as a form harassment more than anything else. If possible the US should stay away from this and let the Afghan's handle it.

  3. #3
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Posts
    3,169

    Default Drug problem

    I guess the first question is are the drugs actually funding the insurgency? The Taleban eliminated the drug trade when they ruled, and the routing of the Taleban gave the clans the freedom they needed to convert back to their old ways. They may pay protection money to some insurgent elements where the coalition isn't effective, but do they willingly fund a significant portion of the insurgency?

    If we go after the drugs, won't that be perceived as an attack on their culture and their means of wealth production? In that case wouldn't that encourage them to form a temporarily alliance with the Taleban or other insurgent or criminal organizations to resist the coalition?

    If we don't go after the drugs (just let it happen), then what happens? What is the worst case scenario? I'll go out on a limb here thinking out load. Wouldn't we have more influence over a criminal clan that has real economic interests, than a bunch of ideological zealots? Maybe the lesser of the evils is the drug clans in the short term is drug clans?

    If not, can we effectively go after both? 53 percent of their GDP is very, very significant. I imagine the other 47% is foreign aid?

  4. #4
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Washington, Texas
    Posts
    305

    Default The Taliban and the drug trade

    Bill,

    I don't think the Taliban ever really eliminated the drug trade, although they did make it more inconvient for a while. I have seen some reports that they actually found a way to profit from the trade.

    If it were true that the enemy did not profit from the drug trade, then it might be cost effective to just buy the drugs and take them off the market or sell them to pharmaceutical companies. My speculation is that people who grow and sell drugs do not have many inhibitions and therefore, they are likely to be dealing with other people without inhibitions including the enemy.

  5. #5
    Council Member RTK's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Wherever my stuff is
    Posts
    824

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Merv Benson View Post
    If it were true that the enemy did not profit from the drug trade, then it might be cost effective to just buy the drugs and take them off the market or sell them to pharmaceutical companies. My speculation is that people who grow and sell drugs do not have many inhibitions and therefore, they are likely to be dealing with other people without inhibitions including the enemy.
    We were going to do this and then stiffed the farmers. We told them if they planted wheat instead of poppies, we'd buy it and give them the difference. Then we cut that part out of the budget. In the end, there were a whole bunch of new wheat farmers pissed at Americans for not making good on their promise. So now poppie production is about 60% of the country. Cool little 2nd and 3rd order effect there.

  6. #6
    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Posts
    4,818

    Default Now your thinking about how to win

    Merv, that is exactly what we should be doing. Opium has many legitimate medical purposes and the potential for a win win situation for all is something that should be pursued ASAP. However it probably want happen. Why? Because we spend to much time trying to figure out how to fight instead of figuring out how to win.

    Bill, I think your observations are correct not just one but all. Here is why. The results of drug profits that you never hear about is that the money creeps into legitimate business, government, etc. The local hospital has a new wing built by the upstanding citizen who is related to a big wealthy drug dealer. The upstanding citizen gets elected to public office, the hospital gets a new wing to treat children, and the drug dealer grows more powerful, safe in the shadows.

  7. #7
    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    DeRidder LA
    Posts
    3,949

    Default 900 pound Gorilla

    I have been referring to the drug issue in OEF as the 900 pound gorilla in the room for more thhan a year because no one was addressing it in serious discussions. At least LTG Eikenberry is doing that now.

    Tom

  8. #8
    Small Wars Journal SWJED's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Largo, Florida
    Posts
    3,989

    Default Get Serious About Afghanistan

    4 October Los Angeles Times commentary - Get Serious About Afghanistan by Max Boot.

    ... The situation is still not as dire as in Iraq, as anyone who has recently been to both countries can attest. But the trends are ominous.

    A large part of the fault lies with Pakistan. After making some efforts to curb Taliban activity, President Pervez Musharraf seems to have thrown in the towel. He has agreed to withdraw troops from Waziristan, turning over a frontier area the size of New Jersey to Taliban supporters. He also released from prison about 2,500 foreign fighters linked to the Taliban and Al Qaeda. Since those actions, U.S. officials report that Taliban attacks in the eastern provinces of Afghanistan have tripled.

    Pakistan isn't just turning a blind eye to Taliban activity. Its Inter-Services Intelligence agency seems to be increasing the amount of training and logistical support it provides to Islamist militants and not just in Afghanistan. While Musharraf was promoting his book in the U.S. last week, Indian police announced that they hold Pakistani intelligence responsible for the Mumbai train bombings that killed 186 people in July...

    What should the U.S. do? Sending more troops isn't in the cards...

    This anemic level of support makes it impossible to address Afghanistan's drug problem, which would require subsidizing farmers to plant alternative crops. It also makes it difficult to build up indigenous security forces to stop the Taliban. Earlier this year, the Pentagon suggested that the goal for the Afghan National Army would be downsized from 70,000 troops to 50,000. (The figure at the moment is under 40,000.) But even 70,000 troops wouldn't be enough to protect a nation of 31 million. The Bush administration should announce that it will dramatically increase assistance with the goal of creating an Afghan army of, say, 150,000 troops. More money and more American advisors also should go to the Afghan police force, which is larger but considerably less capable than the army...

  9. #9
    Council Member Uboat509's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    CO
    Posts
    681

    Default

    I tend to listen when Max Boot speaks. He seems to understand what he is talking about rather than just being another partisan.

    SFC W

  10. #10
    Small Wars Journal SWJED's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Largo, Florida
    Posts
    3,989

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Uboat509 View Post
    I tend to listen when Max Boot speaks...

    SFC W
    Same here.

  11. #11
    Council Member tequila's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    New York, NY
    Posts
    1,665

    Default U.S. Tries to Stem Afghan Opium, Belatedly

    NYTIMES article covering the Bush Administration's movement to combine counterinsurgency with anti-drug efforts in Afghanistan. I read this with a ugly sinking feeling. We may well be on the way to losing this war as well.

  12. #12
    Council Member carl's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Denver on occasion
    Posts
    2,460

    Default

    I made this comment on another Afghan thread but it seems more appropriate here.

    Nothing will work unless demand is eliminated. That is impossible. Too many people like the idea of feeling good the easy way and don't see anything wrong with it.

    The demand combined with the illegal status of opium means big money; that mostly benefits the bad guys wherever they may be.

    So, they thing to be done is remove the illegal part of the equation. That removes the big money from from the hands of the bad guys.

    There will be social costs to this course of action. But on balance, I think the benefits outweigh the costs, both here and overseas.

  13. #13
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Posts
    39

    Default

    For Afghan opium, the demand is predominantly in Russia, the former Soviet Republics, and into Western Europe. Pretty tough to eliminate demand in many of those areas.

    I've read, with bittersweet irony, several accounts which said the Taliban in its final year of rule, under intense international pressure, was able nearly to halt opium exports. I suppose this was due to their ability to exercise authoritarian and draconian measures against farmers and traffickers.

  14. #14
    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    DeRidder LA
    Posts
    3,949

    Default

    Like Carl I see legalization as a solution--painful to be sure--that will ultimately come in one form or another. Fantasy when it comes to the "war on drugs" comes in programs like crop substitution using potatoes in Afghanistan or coffee in Columbia without addressing the demand (and the rewards for meeting that demand).

    I know Slap: you think I am touched on this one. But add up the billions spent in the past couple of decades and then please balance the checkbook with a corresponding improvement that justifies that expenditure.

    Tom

  15. #15
    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Posts
    4,818

    Default

    Tom, just a little touched. Awhile back I said almost the same words to the effect unless crop replacement pays the same it is futile. Me and I think it was Merv Benson talked about selling it (opium) to pharmaceutical companies for legal drug usage. There would be a tremendous benefit to that. But finally I said the Afgan drug war is not our war. How many times is the mission in Afgan going to change. 1st it was get OBL and AQ,then the Taliban, now we are going to start spraying round-up on their major cash crop with nothing to replace it long term. When does that new War czar start? He has some work to do.

  16. #16
    Council Member carl's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Denver on occasion
    Posts
    2,460

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by VinceC View Post
    For Afghan opium, the demand is predominantly in Russia, the former Soviet Republics, and into Western Europe. Pretty tough to eliminate demand in many of those areas.
    Why are we trying so hard, expending lives and money, to control their problem for them? Vladimir for one doesn't seem to appreciate our efforts.

  17. #17
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    567

    Default

    A key step in a successful COIN effort is forcing the population to choose sides.

    Economically, they have no choice but to go with the side that buys their opium. I heard one of the CNN generals say that we should buy opium from the population and use it to make morphine. I think that is about the only thing that might solve the problem.
    Quote Originally Posted by SteveMetz View Post
    Sometimes it takes someone without deep experience to think creatively.

  18. #18
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    13,343

    Default War on Drugs / Protect the Poppy

    One of the factors that undermines Western involvement in Afghanistan, well at least those who in the frontline, are the occassional pictures of troops amdst fields of opium poppies and the public knowledge the heroin is heading home. Even with opponents of the UK's role this causes bewilderment.

    Hence the byline a "War on Drugs" in one place, e.g Caribbean and "Protect the Poppy" in Afghanistan.

    Good knows what the impact is on those serving there.

    Personally I've long believed we should each year buy the crop and then mix it in bitumen for road construction. When I was in NWFP years ago the UN drug adviser I met reported 3k tones p.a. were being produced in Afghanistan; the only time production dropped was when the Taliban imposed a ban.

    davidbfpo

  19. #19
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Posts
    7

    Default

    Interesting idea.. buying all the poppy? How would you consider convincing an Afghan that you would stay long enough to keep buying the opium longer than drug barons?

    "Fortunate" for us that the average Afghan cannot read western newspapers otherwise he would realize that the West is unwilling to make a long term commitment (see reports regarding the Canadian parliament).

    (Although I completely understand the Canadian position).

  20. #20
    Council Member Stan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Estonia
    Posts
    3,817

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by oakfox View Post
    Interesting idea.. buying all the poppy? How would you consider convincing an Afghan that you would stay long enough to keep buying the opium longer than drug barons?

    "Fortunate" for us that the average Afghan cannot read western newspapers otherwise he would realize that the West is unwilling to make a long term commitment (see reports regarding the Canadian parliament).

    (Although I completely understand the Canadian position).
    Hmmm, why do you conclude the farmers wouldn't sell their cash crop to the first person that rolled in with cash, regardless of how long the 'client' was around for ? I think the language issue is long gone, and these folks communicate sufficiently enough to conduct daily transactions.

    I agree with Rex. Air on the side of caution...Such a mission is not a soldier's, nor should it be considering the already full plate they have. I really like Rank amateur's recent post -- buy out the competition and pump the price up well out of the reach of criminals, and, make the client's life living hell (but save a smiggin for those on the drip canisters).

    Ya know Oakfox, I've asked you several times to introduce yourself on the Dumped German Ordnance Thread. It's hard to take you seriously with no background to support your claims and opinions with
    If you want to blend in, take the bus

Tags for this Thread

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •