5 years ago
Bouhammer gives serious thought to the issue of poppy cultivation, funding of the Taliban, and alternatives for the Afghan farmers.
The main points of my argument in dealing with the drugs is not to go after the farmers, who are just trying to make a living and provide for their family. They will grow whatever they can that brings in the most money, and unfortunately that is poppy and always has been. If Coalition forces go into a farmer’s property and wipe out his crops, then it will just piss off the farmer and turn him to the enemy. There are also other farmers waiting for the chance to replace the farmer who was just taken out by the poppy eradication. So going after the farmer is not the silver bullet answer. However deploying ADT teams and using them to empower the farmer and show him alternative crops is part of the answer.
The real answer and focus in my opinion is to go after the middle-man, the buyer, the guy who pays the farmer, puts the poppies into a jingle-truck and moves them to a opium factory which turns the poppy into black-tar heroin. If we take out the man with the cash and he doesn’t show up anymore to buy the poppies from the farmer then the farmer will not be as motivated to grow it anymore. He will be m ore apt to switch to other positive crops. The middle-man (the drug trafficker) is also the one who is moving the heroin by the tons across the borders of Iran, Pakistan, Uzbekistan and other bordering countries. This movement by vehicle is what gets “taxed” by the Taliban and is where they make a lot of their money.
Since we can’t go into Pakistan, Iran and the other countries and take out the labs that are turning this drug into a human-usable product, then we must get them before they cross the border. We must also get the “most bang for our buck”, by using our resources (soldiers, technologies, etc.) to get the largest amounts of opium and heroin at one time. These large amounts are going to be the jingle trucks loaded with pure opium or black-tar heroin that are being moved to the border.
This is the main-stay of my argument. Don’t go after the poor farmer who is just trying to get a little scratch like everyone else in that country, go after the guys that are paying him. Go after the guys who are collecting it (opium) all up, go after the guys who are being taxed by the Taliban and is providing our enemies the funds to continue their fight.
We agree with Bouhammer concerning the issue of targeting a farmer who is merely trying to use a cash crop to provide for his family. It’s a dumb notion that would only make more insurgents, as our arguments go in our category financing the Taliban.
Agricultural development teams are a good idea for building the infrastructure of Afghanistan and effecting fundamental change in the impoverishment that leads to so much recruitment of low level insurgents. But there is something fundamentally flawed with this notion that funding the Taliban will be seriously affected with the advent of a different cash crop.
Remember that we have pointed out that the Tehrik-i-Taliban get their monies from wealthy Middle East sultans, timber trade, gemstones, taxation of businesses, kidnapping, and so-called “protection money.” The Afghan Taliban get much of their income from poppy / opium trade, but only because it’s the predominate cash crop. What if the crop was different?
Consider again the example of Pomegranates.
“We’d like to see at the end of this year containers of fresh pomegranate leaving Afghanistan for supermarkets.
“There’s a lot of interest in pomegranates in the West because of its health benefits.
“Over the course of the next 10 years we would like to plant 45.9 million trees, which would cover an area slightly larger than the areas which are used for poppy production.”
Asked whether he had been in contact with the Taliban, Mr Brett said: “In the complexity of the tribal system in Afghanistan, the Taliban are in every element of society.
“When I talked at the three tribal gatherings, the Taliban were present. I believe that if we don’t communicate with every faction of this problem, we’re not going to solve it.
Pomegranates solves the poppy problem if the project goes forward. But take note that the purveyors of pomegranate aren’t attempting to solve the problem of Taliban funding. Pomegranate won’t do that, and neither will any other cash crop.
Let’s do ADTs for the right reason: infrastructure development. But don’t be deceived into believing that a different cash crop will solve the problem of the Taliban. They must be targeted head-on. There is no other solution.