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Afghan War: Realities on the Ground

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Back in the 1980s When the Soviet Union had troops in Afghanistan, the US government was secretly funding the guerrillas who undermined the occupation. These people were passionate Muslims, opposed to intoxicants including poppy production that was the region's most lucrative export. They called themselves Taliban.

Now that the Taliban is our enemy, we support them less directly. Here's how it works: The U.S. hires private contractors to secure supply routes through Afghanistan to bring guns and ammunition, food and clothing to our troops dispersed around the countryside. The contractors do this in the cheapest, most stable and least violent way, by paying off the warlords who control the local terrain. These are Taliban leaders, and our protection payments last year constituted 10% of the entire Afghan economy.

In this way, we give the Taliban warlords the two essential things that they need to sustain their positions of power: We offer them an enemy, assuring that the people need them for protection; and we give them money to recruit local peasants, train them and employ them as guerrillas.

Article in The Nation 11/30/09

Meanwhile, the U.S. continues its program of paying Afghani farmers to hold down production of opium poppies. Needless to say, in order to qualify for these payments, one must be recognized as a grower of poppies. Lori Price, writing for Citizens for Legitimate Government charges that most of this money ends up in the hands of the Taliban. And reducing the poppy production increases profit margins for the CIA, which buys drugs for distribution back home.

Jeanne MacKenzie writing for Global Research, Canada tells us how money allocated by the U.S. for road and bridge construction in Afghanistan becomes extortion payments to these same warlords.

Meanwhile, in Pakistan, the U.S. is paying Blackwater to hunt down and assassinate Taliban leaders, reports Jeremy Scahill in The Nation this week. Obama has expanded the program under which unmanned drones deliver bombs to Pakistani villages.

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This is what an outsourced war looks like. In some bizarre sense, money is being saved by virtue of each individual contract that the U.S. signs. But, in the aggregate the mission of these ventures is ill-conceived or downright contradictory.

President Obama wants to decide this week whether to continue and expand the war in Afghanistan. In his mind, this is a tough decision.

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Josh Mitteldorf, a senior editor at OpEdNews, blogs on aging at Read how to stay young at Educated to be an astrophysicist, he has branched out from there to mathematical modeling in a (more...)

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