Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Here’s Where We Need the "Surge"

In Afghanistan, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of attacks on U.S. and allied forces by Taliban members who seek to reestablish their hold over the country. Currently there are only 24,000 U.S. troops in that country, where the Al-Qaeda presence is considerably stronger than it is in Iraq. Moreover, Al-Qaeda and the Taliban are operating with the tacit assistance of the Pakistanis, who are tolerating insurgent sanctuaries within their borders.

Discussions - 8 Comments


You’re wrong.

The Opium trade is such a profitable business, and the Afghans are so poor that I seriously believe that as long as such drugs are not commercialized, there will always be a Cartel out of economic necessity. Basically Al-Queda and the Taliban are drug cartels with an ideological/religious inspired hate of the United States. Even if we could whipe out Al-Queda and say Mission accomplished...a new cartel would almost instantly develop. In a properly Machiavellian world we would sponsor a pro-american drug cartel...or we would commercialize/socialize Opium. Short of this Afghanistan is a waste of time. The need to grow Opium is economically necessitated. The need to be able to sell the Opium that is grown requires guns and smuggling knowledge. A proffesional Militia such as Al-Queda fills this need. Basically Afghanistan is just as much part of the war on terror as it is a part of the war on drugs...

You’re right, John. U.S. drug policy has repeatedly interfered with foreign policy (as did Prohibition in the 1920s). It’s not only a problem in Afghanistan, but in much of Latin America as well.

Isn’t the surge aimed at Iraq, and not (typically) where this problem and bin Laden are?

That’s right, Fung--hence the title of my post. If I knew of some way to italicize the text of post titles I would’ve put more emphasis on the word "Here’s."

John- My ADD is showing. I read that as ’why," not "where." Please excuse me.

Fung, Iraq also has a lot of problems with Smuggling. In particular the policy of subsidizing the fuel price in Iraq leads to very long fuel lines...but albeit it is not quite as profitable and the people are in general better off...fuel smuggling into Turkey and Syria is somewhat profitable. The Iraqi Police being somewhat inclined towards bribes and insurgents being resourceful when it comes to making a little extra cash...a lot of subsidized Iraqi fuel is supposedly smuggled out of the country. A lot of the fuel is also horded up and resold at higher than the subsidized those who do not wish to wait three hours in a fuel line. So in a sense the Iraqi insurgency is also somewhat subsidized by the unintended consequences of the Iraqi governments decision to subsidize fuel. So In Iraq we have on a lesser scale a similar formula to Afghanistan. Weak rule of law+economic possibilities/necessities=opportunitiesfor those with guns+connections(i.e. insurgents)

I have no clue on the extent to which fuel racketering is a problem in Iraq...but I have seen fuel lines that stretch for 2-3 miles...roadside stands that price-gouge fuel in small quatities...and a lot of stranded motorist along the MSR’s. I think I remmember reading in the Arab Times that the Iraqi secretary of the interior put the economic cost of fuel smuggling in the neighborhood of $3 Billion. I know that fuel is valuable enough to the Iraqi’s that they would risk life and limb to climb unto our moving convoys and attempt to siphon it out of our tanks into improvised containers...of course they would also sometimes risk life/death to grab a few metal chains, a spare tire or some MRE’s...if it wasn’t secured it was at risk. This is especially true of the people living near the Iraq/Kuwait border.

My humble suggestion to the Iraqi’s quit subsidizing fuel...of course this would be unpopular...because people would say that this hurts the poor...but if you put Iraq on a bell curve my guess would be that only the upper-middle class/rich (top 25%) own cars/trucks in the first place. It should also eliminate long lines for fuel...and render fuel smuggling a thing of the past. Of course I think the subsidies on Fuel also include Kero and other cooking fuels that are widely used...but effectively fuel subsidies end up being a chimera anyways once you figure in the costs inherent in the inefficient/corrupt? distribution.

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