Also, we cannot deny the locals the revenue from the poppy fields and hope to befriend and empower the local tribal chiefs and farmers. It would be better if we simply bought the whole yearly crop (approximate cost $2 billion to $3 billion - but far cheaper in both dollars and American lives than the alternative,) and directed it to the legal pharmaceutical market. Thus, the Afghans keep their desperately needed money (and their traditional tribal relations and culture), the Taliban doesn't get its cut, and we keep the heroin off the streets of Europe and America.I'm pretty sure no one has thought of this one before: why don't we just buy up all the opium and channel it into legal pharma?? Then the bad guys can't make any money off of it!
Only, they can. Does Blankley really think that the "Taliban's cut" in the drug trade comes from buying up the crop and then selling it at a higher price? Money is extorted and stolen from the Afghan people by the insurgents. It doesn't matter where this money comes from (but drugs happen to be a convenient medium because there's a premium to be made on their transport and sale, too). If the coalition starts buying up the crop, then the enemy will simply extort American dollars from farmers instead.
Unless, that is, we're able to cleave the insurgents from the farmers and the rest of the civilian populace. The odds of that don't look great at this point, especially with these force levels. (Not to mention the fact that the strategic logic of committing the necessary forces is... well, let's say it's questionable.)
Here's another charming nugget from the same article:
Is he serious? Does he think most Pashtun tribesmen in the Hindu Kush have any concern for (or even know) which side of the Durand Line they're on?
According to several of the troops with whom I talked, a policy that merely wanted permanently to suppress the Taliban could be more surely gained by fully empowering the local tribal chiefs and warlords to go after the Taliban - who, though of the same Pashtun tribe as many Afghans, are considered different subsets of tribe and thus foreigners worthy of enthusiastic slaughter.
Afghans hate foreigners, whether Macedonian, British, Russian, American or Pakistani Pashtun.
Blenkley figures we ought to just go away and takes the gloves off of the "local tribal chiefs and warlords." (In the latter case, hasn't Karzai pretty much already done that?) Those power brokers are only likely to "go after the Taliban" so long as it's in their interest to do so, which is to say so long as it looks like they're certain to win, and like they have more to gain from prosecuting a campaign against the Taliban than from reconciling with them, switching sides, or negotiating. This idea is based on the false perception that there is some sort of wide consensus about exactly who the bad guys are in Afghanistan.
I don't want to sound like Josh Foust here, but can the Blankleys and other political hacks of the world get out of the business of offering half-baked "solutions" to complex problems like Afghanistan?