Wednesday, May 18, 2005

There She Goes (There She Goes Again)...

Also from Slate an interesting article on the dilemma regarding Afghan poppy production.

Interestingly, Bosco notes an ongoing internal bureaucratic struggle within the administration over how to deal with the problem. This sits on top of an existing rift between the United States and the United Kingdom over how to deal with the issue. The British, having been tasked with dealing with the problem, came under significant criticism for being less than vigorous in their pursuit of the destruction of the crop. The British, for their part, took the stance (also noted from non-British advocates in the Bosco article) that a punitive campaign against poppy production in the absence of viable alternative forms of economic opportunity would simply be a fast track route to economic collapse and armed uprising. Although the British recently relinquished responsibility for dealing with the poppy issue, it seems that the rather acrimonious Anglo-American row over the issue is not being replayed in microcosm in Washington itself.

It is far too ealry to attempt to judge just what the end game is going to be in this situation. However, it does seem fair at this point to draw the tentative conclusion that operations in Afghanistan have been hampered somewhat by a string of rifts - State vs. Defence, American vs. British, troops charged with Al Qaeda hunting vs. troops charged with stabilising the country and developing its post-conflict reconstruction (as one senior British officer with extensive experience in-country noted drily last year, if the interests and methods of the two groups coincide, it is purely a matter of "happy coincidence") and internal ructions within the NATO stabilisation forces.

Whether any of this was avoidable or whether it is all simply in the nature of the beast I am not sure.

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