The President's short sighted military model.

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by David Remer September 06, 2003 PoliWatch.Org

In a revealing article, U.S. Pressed to Interdict Afghan Drugs, by Matthew Pennington, about opium and lack of stability in Afghanistan, the short-sighted Bush military plan to save the world, is implicated. Pennington points out the Russians, The Afghani government in Kabul, and the United Nations are calling for the US led coalition force of 11,500 personnel to stem the opium trade which is fueling both the warlords throughout Afghanistan as well as the Taliban-al Qaida terrorists. The dilemma is that the producers of the opium are the very heads of Afghani armies which have worked with the US to fight the Taliban regime and al Qaida terrorists. These same warlords are supporting the American effort in Iraq by permitting the US to maintain much lower numbers of troops in Afghanistan than would otherwise be required to maintain stability in Kabul.

Outside Kabul, the US led coalition has little to no control. The US pulled troops out of Afghanistan after routing the Taliban in order to begin the buildup for invasion into Iraq. President Bush left only a small contingent sufficient to restore order and protect the seat of government in Kabul. There is no law and order, nor defense against reinsertions of Taliban and al Qaida throughout the rest of Afghanistan save for the poppy growing war lords. In recent weeks the U.S. led coalition has been involved in intense skirmishes with Taliban and al Qaida forces which have moved back into Afghanistan. But, little progress is made since every skirmish results in the bulk of the Taliban and al Qaida forces fleeing, only to reappear elsewhere in a few days or weeks.

Pennington states: "There's no doubt that in a number of provinces the commanders [in the US led coalition] are involved. It's a known fact.

Yet anti-drug experts suspect that al-Qaida and the Taliban, which have recently stepped up resistance to the Afghan government, are also using proceeds from the illicit trade to fund their activities."

President Bush cannot claim victory in Afghanistan as long as only one city in the entire country, Kabul, is under law abiding control of the Afghan government. Nor can it claim victory as long as the economy of the country is based on illegal drug trafficking and poppy production. Russia is growing uneasy with the damage the opium trade from Afghanistan is causing to Russia's anti-drug efforts. The U.N. is attempting to build the case that the US led coalition must, in order to fight the Taliban and al Qaida, cut off their supply of money by either stopping U.S. led coalition commanders from profiting from the poppy, or rid the country of these same commanders who are freeing up U.S. forces for deployment in Iraq and elsewhere.

The failure of the U.S. led military approach to regime change is very simply that it fails to include in its plans for the aftermath of war, such crucial factors as economics, social and cultural values, and infrastructure needed to maintain the regime change the U.S. sought in the first place. Long after the war in Afghanistan is over, President Bush is still holding American troops there in harm's way, fighting the very Taliban and al Qaida forces he sought to rout. As long as the poppy trade is a cornerstone of economic survival throughout Afghanistan outside Kabul, there will be no end to conflict in Afghanistan or secure and stable regime change. And there will be no end to the drain on American tax dollars or loss of American life and limb in Afghanistan.

The whole situation reminds me of Ford Motor Companies strategy for the Pinto with its exploding gas tank. It was cheaper to pay off the law suits for burned owners of the vehicles than it was to recall the vehicles and fix them. President Bush's administration has apparently avoided the very high cost of a long term solution.

Such a solution would have required rebuilding the economics and infrastructure of Afghanistan in such as to insure prosperity and social order could be maintained internally by native Afghans. Instead, President Bush's administration has favored the less costly option of maintaining a small contingent of troops and body bags to simply maintain the appearance of success by protecting Kabul against the forces prevalent throughout the rest of Afghanistan.

The appearance of victory is hollow as long as American tax dollars and American lives are being consumed in Afghanistan. Such a slow but steady drain on American resources could continue for years and years to come. The price of real victory through regime change is very, very high. The cost of the appearance of victory as witnessed in the 1990 Gulf War could be even higher years down the road.

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This page contains a single entry by David R. Remer published on September 6, 2003 2:49 AM.

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