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Afghanistan, The Forgotten War

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It is not unexpected, but it certainly is disheartening that we’ve abandoned the Afghani people so thoroughly.

From Lieutenant General David Richards comes a dose of needed reality:

The most senior British military commander in Afghanistan today described the situation in the country as “close to anarchy” with feuding foreign agencies and unethical private security companies compounding problems caused by local corruption.

The stark warning came from Lieutenant General David Richards, head of Nato’s international security force in Afghanistan, who warned that western forces there were short of equipment and were “running out of time” if they were going to meet the expectations of the Afghan people.

The assumption within Nato countries had been that the environment in Afghanistan after the defeat of the Taliban in 2002 would be benign, Gen Richards said. “That is clearly not the case,” he said today. He referred to disputes between tribes crossing the border with Pakistan, and divisions between religious and secular factions cynically manipulated by “anarcho-warlords”.

Apparently, we’re in a bit of a tough spot. We need to rebuild the infrastructure so Afghanistan can catch up to the rest of the world. But in the mean time, we have to shift focus from eradicating the poppy production in the country. And just for some background, that’s pretty much the only thing Afghanistan has going for it as far as a cash crop is concerned. In fact, it’s said that of their roughly $30 billion GDP, up to a third of it comes from illicit drugs.

So it seems what we have here is a Catch-22. If you destroy the poppy crops, you destroy one of the only means for the Afghani people to make a living and you lose their hearts and minds. But those same crops are funding the warlords. What to do?