Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Afghanistan’s Wicked Web

The conundrum that is Afghanistan
by Charlie Leck

Why we went to Afghanistan
Remember? We went to Afghanistan to hunt down terrorists and, specifically, Osama bin Laden. Somehow, in the process, we got mired in a much wider and unwanted involvement. Perhaps there are people to blame, but it is a waste of effort and purpose to do so. We need, instead, to come to grips with a better understanding of the depth and futility of our problems there.

The New Mission in Afghanistan
Now we are engaged in a complex fight against the Taliban all across Afghanistan. Do not make the mistake of confusing this enemy with the original one, the Al Qaeda and its leader, Osama bin Laden. They are completely different forces. It was the Taliban that removed the Soviet Union from Afghanistan in the 80s and early 90s. Granted, bin Laden was responsible for bringing large amounts of financial and weapons resources into the nation and handing both off to the Taliban forces.

The Taliban militia rules vast areas in Afghanistan, even after relentless attempts by American forces to weaken its influence. Somehow they continue to refresh their treasury and weapons resources (“somehow” being the operative and important word here). American intelligence sources feel that bin Laden no longer is capable of providing the support he once did; and, as a matter of fact, his current support of the Taliban is extremely limited.

So, our operative word becomes crucial in figuring out how to solve the problem of the chaos that the Taliban creates in Afghanistan. From where do the resources for the survival of the Taliban come? I’m sure our intelligence service knows the precise answer to that question. I can only assume that unveiling the mystery to us would present serious political problems and disrupt the delicate goals of our current international relations policy.

Yet, everyone who travels to Afghanistan, whether it is the news media or scholars or military intelligence officers, seems to agree that persons and organizations in Pakistan continue to supply the largest percentage of that financial and military assistance.

Who are these people and organizations? Why do they do it? What is their intense interest in keeping Afghanistan destabilized?

Begin by not making the mistake of ideologically connecting the sources of money and weapons with the Taliban. The sources are only using the Taliban to wreak havoc in that undeveloped and ungoverned nation. These sources, it would logically seem, must be extremely wealthy or must have access to vast wealth in order to continue to supply the needs of the Taliban.

So that, logically, leads us to the next question: If not from a wealthy nation or group of nations, from where does so much money come?

My conspiratorial mind leaps toward an answer to the question and comes up with the single syllable but complex word, drugs! Immense amount of product to manufacture illegal drugs comes out of Afghanistan.

If that proposition is wildly off its mark, what else could it be? Who else, or what else, would continue and could continue to supply such lavish amounts of resources to the Taliban?

Again, assuming it is not unknown nations that somehow supply these funds and weapons, who else could it be? Religious fanatics and rabid, radical Islamic fundamentalists? It’s possible, but I don’t see how these religious organizations could supply so many millions and millions of dollars to the Taliban unless they, in turn are being funded by the drug cartel or by rogue nations.

Follow the money! I’m not sure where that expression was born. I remember it first in the incredible Watergate era of the early 70s. It’s been used so often since then, but never is it more relevant than it is now in the matter of the Taliban in Afghanistan. Someone or some organization or some nations are supplying the Taliban with vast amounts of money and arms.

Turning off the spigot would seem to me to be the answer to our problems in Afghanistan.

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