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Penny-wise, pound foolish in Afghanistan

Written By: - Date published: 9:07 am, February 1st, 2010 - 7 comments
Categories: afghanistan - Tags:

Foreign Minister Murray McCully is refusing to contribute any New Zealand money to a fund that will buy-off the Taliban’s foot soldiers.

The so-called ‘ten dollar Taliban’ are often not ideological but motivated by Taliban cash. By giving them more lucrative and less dangerous options, the Karzi government and its international supporters hope to deprive the Taliban of a large part of its fighting force.

It’s a model that has met with success on numerous occasions in other wars, mostly recently in Iraq. Cheap and effective. Yet National seems to think it’s better to pay a fortune deploying the SAS to kill Taliban fighters (as if the supply of of soldiers to an insurgency was ever dried up that way) than a relative pittance buying them off.

This is the same dumb, reactionary approach that National has to crime. I guess it stems from that right-wing myth that people who do bad things do them because they are inherently evil (and their actions are, therefore unpreventable) rather than behaviour being the product of social, economic, and political context.

Instead of spending a relatively small amount on preventing crime, National would rather the crime happens and then spend a fortune punishing the offenders. Instead of giving Taliban fighters other options, National would rather spend more to kill them.

7 comments on “Penny-wise, pound foolish in Afghanistan ”

  1. infused 1

    This just goes to show of how little you know about what’s going on over there.

  2. lonelyavenger 2

    I know posting a link to a well-informed, reasoned article on The Standard is sort of like expecting martyg to know how to do maths, but I’ll try:


    • lprent 2.1

      It is an interesting idea – but fraught with difficulties. The difficulty is getting the people you bribe to give up fighting to stay brought.

      I suppose that it is one way to spend money to try and get an semi-honorable exit strategy. Just like when the same thing was tried in every guerrilla conflict since Malaysia. I think that was the last time it worked. But then it was done with a lot of other strategies going on at the same time.

      It failed miserably in both Vietnam and and earlier conflicts in Afghanistan (the soviet tried it as well). Don’t you know ANY military history? I’ve yet to see that the other conditions to a peace have been put into place. Like a working economy that employs people.

      BTW: I remember reading at a young age articles on Newsweek confidentially expecting a US victory there.

  3. prism 3

    Good comment Eddie. This is so tue –
    “Instead of spending a relatively small amount on preventing crime, National would rather the crime happens and then spend a fortune punishing the offenders. Instead of giving Taliban fighters other options, National would rather spend more to kill them.”

    Of course this is how inflexible people behave, the right wing are like this, can’t learn, won’t learn, can’t change, won’t change, and prefer the tarnished glory of The Charge of the Light Brigade. Killing and injuring is a useful behaviour to those who are usually not in the thick of the battle. (Remember Blackadder trying to get out of the futile World War 1 attack from the trenches, very poignant.)

    Thank you Wikipedia for this excerpt –
    Tennyson’s poem, published December 9, 1854 in The Examiner, praises the Brigade, “When can their glory fade? O the wild charge they made!”, while mourning the appalling futility of the charge: “Not tho’ the soldier knew, someone had blunder’d Charging an army, while all the world wonder’d.”

  4. BLiP 4

    Shhhhh . . . hush now.

    Its not really in the interests of the corporates in Afghanistan to do anything about reducing the violence. If it were, the first arena in which they would concentrate energy is reducing opium production.

    In 2000, Afghanistan was estimated to be producing 75% of the world’s supply of opium. In July that year, the Taliban issued a decree banning the cultivation of opium and, six months later, the land use for opium poppies had dropped from 12,000 acres to 17 acres. In the ensuing eight years since IFSA, Afghanistan now supplies 95% of global production.

    Far cheaper to have the peasants busy in the poppy fields spreading the misery of addiction throughout the country – and the world – than to do anything which might interfere with maximising return to shareholders. Also, there is increasing evidence that the corporates are getting a piece of the action themselves by assisting the in the washing of all that lovely loot.

    For purely pragmatic reasons, it would be better if we just kept our mouths shut about what’s really going on in Afghanistan. The last thing we want is to be identified by the United States as “difficult” – especially given that nation’s propensity for involving itself in the democracy of other sovereign states.

  5. Bill 5

    And it’s not April 1?

    Okay, let me get this straight.

    Step 1. Bomb the shit out of a country that has previously been reduced to various heaps of stone and rubble.

    Step 2. Keep on bombing.

    Step 3. After some years, offer the remaining population a tenner and…… what? Suggest they don’t spend it all at the one sweetie shop? That’s it, isn’t it? I mean, I haven’t really missed anything out, have I?

    Okay, so the tenner’s in exchange for a bust up rifle or whatever. And a ‘dib-dib-dib’ promise not to use the accumulating tenners to purchase any of those cottage industry semi automatic weapons that are manufactured all across Pakistan?

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