There is a very interesting article in the April 29th issue of the New York Times about the United State’s plan to eliminate the Taliban’s revenue source in Afghanistan. For years we have known that the Taliban has been securing huge sums of money from the growth of poppies, and that crop is the principal source of opium across the world. As usual we continue to know the problem exists, but little or nothing is done to eliminate the revenue stream. American fighting men continue to be killed and now we are sending 20,000 additional Marines and Army personnel into the area.
This article by Dexter Filkins reports that we plan to spend $250 million dollars to improve roads, irrigation and develop water sources so Afghani farmers can establish true agricultural crops, i.e., wheat, which were successfully farmed back in the 1970’s. Again America continues to throw money at problems, and believes that this initiative will solve the issue. The Afghanistan problem is complicated and requires multiple actions to solve. As I have said before, money alone and increased troop strength will not solve the long historical conflicts confronting this part of the world.
The root of the problem is the poppy crop. We can’t just go into Afghanistan and eliminate the entire crop. Yes, it would immediately destroy the Taliban’s revenue stream. However, that would destroy a fragile, at best, economic situation. We must find a way to get the Afghan agricultural community to embrace growing crops that will feed their nation, not assist in the destruction of it. When poppy farming is eliminated, we will eliminate the funds that the Taliban uses to kill our soldiers and its own people.
Although infrastructure improvements are required, let’s begin where the Taliban influence and poppy fields are as limited as possible and start with infrastructure improvements there. We could even use part of the $250 million to compensate farmers there for the establishment of proper crops. Corruption is rampant and the Taliban has infiltrated the entire growing area, and even if we were paying off Taliban farmers, we could have an strong impact on the flow of drugs out of the country once the farming of appropriate agriculture crops took root (pardon the pun) and the farmers made a very viable living.
Addressing the drug crisis world-wide is a monumental task. We are talking about unbelievable sums of money that buys international corruption, influence, and in some cases political office. Even here in the good old USA we cannot seem to get control of drug trafficking.
The U.S. agricultural model is renowned. I am sure that once “good” farming begins to enjoy success, the total elimination of the poppy fields with appropriate plant killing agents can be accomplished.
The President of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzia, would not exist for ten minutes if not for America’s dollars, American military support, and our political backing. Karzia should not be permitted to stop our actions against the poppy fields.
America cannot expect to receive a helping hand from most foreign governments, and especially the appallingly unsupportive United Nations. The UN survives on the dollars received yearly from the gullible United States, and many of the UN Ambassadors have questionable ties to their appointments by their countries. Then there is also the matter of the UN’s long established record of thumbing its nose at our humanitarian efforts. One wonders why our country continues to feed that gluttonous pig.
Do we really want to solve the drug problem? Should we worry if we offend some poor country that survives on our foreign aid? Would we be taking needed monies away from the entitlement/welfare crowd? Do you suspect that there is corruption in high places?
The United States government has been throwing millions, now billions of dollars into Afghanistan dating back to the early 1980s and Congressman Charlie Wilson’s “War” against the Soviets in Afghanistan and it has not solved this tragic source of world wide terror. Yes, the issue is complex, but how can our leadership over the years be so oblivious?