L'Ombre de l'Olivier

The Shadow of the Olive Tree

being the maunderings of an Englishman on the Côte d'Azur

10 July 2006 Blog Home : July 2006 : Permalink

Afghanistan - Mission in Trouble?

Michael Yon has a long post explaining why he thinks that Afghanistan is far worse that Iraq. I'm not sure I completely agree, other people seem more upbeat, but I think it is clear that Afghanistan is not anywhere like as stable as Iraq and it is completely clear that there are far fewer coalition forces there. It is worrying to read Yon's report when you also read the EU Referendum's discussion of UK military equipment and the various BBC reports, such as this one.

The big question is what is going to happen to the opium crop. I hope that the British (and other NATO) troops will be targeting the opium drug lords and destroying the crop as they attempt to smuggle it out of the country. It should surely not be that hard for NATO to figure out where the opium is being processed and stored and destroy a significant chunk of it and given the amount of money supposedly available for funding alternative crops etc. etc. it surely ought to be possible to combine carrots to the farmers with sticks to the smugglers. We should also consider buying some of the stuff ourselves and processing it into useful forms such as morphine. Unfortunately I'm not seeing anything like this being reported so I think what we will see is a gradual worsening of the situation. Something that reports like this Asia Times one make clear is a view that others share:

Afghanistan boasts two bumper crops this season, and both could be lethal to the already fledgling authority of its government.

Western officials expect the largest-ever opium crop in the face of a toothless US$1 billion eradication campaign. And contrary to earlier pronouncements by military officials, the Taliban are gaining steam in the volatile southern provinces, where fighting has raged at levels not seen since the US-led invasion that toppled the al-Qaeda-allied Islamic fundamentalist movement five years ago.

Although the newspaper article does report that "[u]nconfirmed coalition death tolls reveal roughly 20 insurgents are killed for every Afghan or Western casualty" which sounds promising, it also agrees with me that the drug trade is a major issue and one that is complicating the military situation.

I despise l'Escroc and Vile Pin