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Show them the money!

Continuing on the question of strategy and escalation in Afghanistan, over at NRO today John Derbyshire asks what the hell are we still doing there anyway? That's a question a growing number of Americans are also asking. Obama doesn't seem to have made up his mind exactly what we're doing in Afghanistan either. So it's worth considering.

Derb's solution is to buy off the right people and get out. He's an old school conservative, the "rubble don't make trouble" brand of foreign policy. I'm with him in a broad sense, but the fact is that Afghanistan was pretty much rubble on 9/11 yet we got big trouble. Beyond that, having troops and aircraft stationed on either side of Iran is a huge bargaining chip. Just because Bush and Obama are afraid to play that chip doesn't mean we should just give it up. And having some muscle near Pakistan to secure or destroy its nuclear arsenal if/when the meltdown comes is a plus as well.

On balance I think rubble between Iran and Pakistan would devolve into exactly what it was before. Which brings us back to the question of whether a military-based solution is even achievable. But what about rubble plus a truckload of greenbacks? Could we buy peace from the people of Afghanistan?

Per the CIA World Fact Book, there are roughly 29 million people in Afghanistan. To hell with buying the right people, let's buy them all. Derb's a demography bug - their median age is 17.6 and 44.5% of the population is 14 or under. Compare that to the US's 36.7 and 20.2% - it's a young country. Average GDP per capita is SEVEN HUNDRED DOLLARS. Seven hundred freakin' dollars a year. Young, dumb, and poor. Where would porn producers be without that demographic? Some shady dude with a few hundred bucks can coax a Western girl into getting violated nine ways from Sunday - on film - but we can't buy off dirt poor Afghanis?

For a paltry (at least in the age of Obama) $150 billion we can give every man, woman, and child in Afghanistan $5,000. That's seven years worth of income in a lump sum. Think that would buy us some good will? Think young Afghanis would remember fondly the day America made their family rich? Just register you and your family with the government and walk out with your bonanza. In no time they'll be so busy with cell phones and computers and TV and shopping the kids will have no use at all for jihad. Stewing over their parents' refusal to buy them a PS3 instead of some imagined abuse at the hands of the Great Satan.

Oh, and rather than eradicating poppies we set shop and buy all their opium. Pharma companies need the raw material and it will keep it off the black market. Same deal - come in, register, get a premium price for your wares, and walk out with cash. Before you know it they'll be too busy planning the annual harvest festival to fret over jihad. Sure, some of the baddies would profit from the deal, but it's not like they aren't cashing in on the opium trade now. Eventually we'd end up cutting them out of the equation completely and dealing directly with farmers. Would they bite the hand that feeds them?

There's an old joke about an honest politician - once you buy him he stays bought. It would be a great bargain if we could be sure the Afghanis would stay bought. On the other hand, who's going to come along with a better offer? Afghanistan's a dump.

It could work. I'm all hawk, but protracted military conflicts without easily defined metrics for success put our soldiers in a position where they'll eventually have fought and died...not in vain, because we've rolled up a shitload of AQ and Talibanis...without a realistic chance of conclusive victory. Considering the special circumstances of Afghanistan (9/11) and what we've invested so far, I want Obama to listen to his generals press forward in Afghanistan.

What victory will look like and if it can ever be achieved remain to be seen. In the meantime we stay in their backyard and continue sending as many jihadis to Allah as possible. Who knows, someday we may even fall ass backwards into OBL.


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Comments (9)

I like the idea of buying t... (Below threshold)

I like the idea of buying the opium, it would work and be relatively cheap. The rest, well you might not need it if you buy the opium they will have a secure income to buy what they need. Who knows they may actually end up growing something they can actually use for food. mpw

Interesting concept, until ... (Below threshold)

Interesting concept, until they come back for another 5K. The dope buying sounds like a good move.

The best that can be said f... (Below threshold)

The best that can be said for the concept is that it's mildly amusing. They won't stay bought. Afghan warlords have no loyalty to us but lots of loyalty to Islam. As abhorrent as it is, the Taliban have a legitimate claim to one interpretation of Islam.

Afghanistan cannot be 'solved' as long as the Taliban retain refuge in Pakistan and enjoy support from Iran and Russia. It's all of a piece. A tapestry, interwoven of Major and minor players.

Yet for the reasons given we cannot retreat, surrounding Iran and more importantly, positioning our troops to quickly secure Pakistan's nukes if Pakistan falls to the Taliban, a real possibility, is crucial to American and western interests.

Iran's ruling mullahs may b... (Below threshold)

Iran's ruling mullahs may be about to fall, maybe 6 months, maybe 5 years, and if they do we can use the goodwill our president has built by backing the Greens... oh, I forgot.

Poppies.. Now they'll sleep... (Below threshold)

Poppies.. Now they'll sleep.. poppies..poppies..poppies

It would be cheaper to just... (Below threshold)

It would be cheaper to just have their treasury department print money like there's no tomorrow. The effect would be the same. Everybody would be rich overnight.

The reason incomes are $700 per capita is because that's all the country produces in economic terms. Anything else will simply turn into inflation, as our leftist friends in Congress are about to find out. You can't spend your way out of a recession any more than you can eliminate poverty by raising the minimum wage.

Nice sentiment, though. Much as I hate cutting and running, I'd rather do that then let our troops die for nothing while Washington dithers hoping for a convenient solution to reveal itself in the whimsical fullness of time. Our troops are worth a hell of a lot more than that. Screw "give peace a chance". Either give our troops what they need to win or go home. Dithering is fatal.

There is no question that t... (Below threshold)

There is no question that the government is spending our money without reason. Those of us in the private sector need to ban together. We have had enough. Join us! The Free Enterprise Nation


Per the CIA World Fact B... (Below threshold)

Per the CIA World Fact Book, there are roughly 29 million people in Afghanistan. To hell with buying the right people, let's buy them all.
For a paltry (at least in the age of Obama) $150 billion we can give every man, woman, and child in Afghanistan $5,000. That's seven years worth of income in a lump sum. Think that would buy us some good will?

They're Muslims.
Muslims don't stay bought and they wouldn't view it as being bought in any case, they would view it as Kaffirs paying the jizyah tribute that is owed to them according to the Koran.

I'm for rubbling the place with thermobaric(FAE) bombs to make an example of the place and then freezing Muslim travel into the western world.

The 9/11 attacks didn't take place because there were terrorist training camps in Afghanistan.
They happened because our government let Muslim religious fanatics come over here.

By October 1, 2001, Afghani... (Below threshold)

By October 1, 2001, Afghanistan should have been nuked, poisoned and bombed into a lifeless, radioactive crater. With Muslims, either you kill and/or convert them OR they will kill and/or convert you. There can never be peace or freedom as long as a single Muslim spreads the poison of their prophet.






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