I think you know what SNAFU means. It arose in the darkest days of World War II, and has been time and again appropriate in recent years in a war which, so far as the USA is concerned, has already been going on longer than World War II, if you date it from 9/11.
Let’s take Afghanistan. Now I have been quite deliberately minimising my comments on the War on Terror lately as I don’t feel I have anything original to say, and anyway you can read the links over there on the right under Current Affairs just as well as I can. However, there was an interesting happenstance tonight, and I haven’t had a good rant for a while.
First, The Poet referred me to Robert Scheer, who is pretty much recycling things he has been saying for a few years now, except that a recent UN report on opium production in Afghanistan provided the occasion this time. He or his editor have given it a cool headline — Afghanistan: High on Opium, Not Democracy — and the thrust of his article is that the Bush regime are incompetent fools who tend to feed us propaganda which they may just even believe themselves. Well, I wouldn’t dispute that.
…What the Bush administration will not confront in Afghanistan, or in Iraq, is that its ill-conceived and disastrously executed nation-building schemes are sinking into the swamp of local and historical realities. Enamored of American military might but having little understanding of the world beyond, Bush and his team have ignored Gen. Colin Powell’s reported “you break it, you own it” warnings, floundering after initial military victories and ultimately strengthening the hand of local and international terrorists. Rather than take care of business in Afghanistan after 9/11, Bush and clueless U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld allowed bin Laden to slip out of the Tora Bora caves to plan more attacks and the Taliban to regroup. Instead, Bush and Co. threw the bulk of our military and aid resources into a disastrous attempt to remake oil-rich Iraq, which had nothing to do with 9/11, into an American puppet state.
With U.S. midterm elections around the corner, embattled Republicans are now desperately claiming to be the only thing standing between us and a bogeyman they are calling “Islamo-fascism,” and ridiculously comparing the “war on terror” to the fight against the Nazis. Fortunately, if belatedly, two-thirds of the American electorate now recognize that our president is all hat and no cattle, as they say in Texas, a leader much better at starting wars than winning them.
There is however nothing new or original in this article, even if I can’t but agree with it. I could have read it, though, last week or last month or last year or four years ago… Sorry, it is getting cliched, even if true.
Young Ahmad Shuja, however, is perhaps better placed, being an Afghani living in Pakistan. The second happenstance was to visit his blog. He addresses the same UN report in his latest entry: “Staggering” Increase in Afghan Drug Cultivation. I think he focusses our attention on the human dimension and he is not quite so obsessed with George Bloody Bush, American politics, or the asinine Donald Rumsfeld.
Although the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime appears to be solely attributing the increase to corrupt officials and powerful warlords, there are other equally responsible factors at work as well. Currently, for example, almost half of the provinces in Afghanistan are in a critical condition due to a prevailing drought situation. Many overstretched farmers in the drought-stricken areas cannot earn a living because they cannot cultivate due to a lack of water for irrigation. And, according to a government report, a swarm of deadly insects has hit many of the southern and eastern parts of the country, depriving some farmers–who have managed somehow or the other to cultivate–of their due rewards.
This has resulted in more farmers becoming unemployed and has worsened the already pathetic unemployment rate–40%.
However, in this bleak situation, one thing comes to the rescue of the overstretched farmers: opium poppy. It is something that requires a comparatively lesser amount of water and fares very well in the weather conditions prevalent in the country. This causes many, many farmers to switch to this new and better alternative although their financial gains are not remarkably better. The current increase in the production of opium can primarily be attributed to these factors. Many more farmers may teem in if the condition is not improved.
Drug trade in Afghanistan currently accounts for 35% of the economy. It is the only source of income for thousands of farmers. And merely sending policemen with sticks in their hands to destroy opium fields won’t work in the least bit. In order to see a tangible difference, the government must design and efficiently execute projects which provide solid, practicable cultivation alternatives to opium poppy. A number of alternative cultivation projects have failed in past merely because of poor administration…
I really don’t think Robert Scheer gives a shit about Afghan farmers, but then neither, probably, does George W Bush, or almost any other journalist, pundit, or politician you’d like to name, left or right.