Wars at War
Posted by PintofStout on June 6, 2008
A while ago, RecessiveGenes wrote about Unintended Consequences, where he provided a good definition and a few examples. Another example in the news several weeks ago (I’m waaay behind) – actually this news item pops up pretty regularly since the U.S. invaded Afghanistan – is the conflict arising between the War on Drugs (WoD) and the War on Terror (WoT). The Taliban, who was ousted from power a few months after giving shelter and support to the group who attacked the U.S. on September 11, 2001, and likely al-Qaida have been funding their Jihad and insurgent efforts with money made from the drug trade, specifically Afghan-grown and produced opium. James Emory, in an April 2008 Middle East Times article, has this to say:
…The Taliban made deals to allow opium cultivation and processing in return for political support and a cut of the profits.
A number of sources have linked Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida directly with the drug trade. One report states that prior to the defeat of the Taliban, bin Laden served as a middleman for Afghan opium traders, using his commissions to buy weapons and provide funding for his training camps.
“Al-Qaida and the Taliban are terrorists,” said Ashraf Haidari, political counselor at the Embassy of Afghanistan in Washington, D.C. “They work hand-in-hand so we really don’t differentiate between them. Narcotics are one source of funding for al-Qaida.” The Taliban Opium Connection
One might assume that the two “wars” are fighting in the same direction here, until it is realized that the WoD has dramatically raised the price of the product making it a viable source of funding for paramilitary activities. We don’t find terrorist organizations funding themselves by selling corn (though, with the ethanol subsidies, I wouldn’t be surprised) or tobacco because they are legally sanctioned and the price is low because of it. So the WoD created a market that contradicts the goals of the WoT.
The contradiction isn’t simply economic, either. The WoD drives the farmers and producers of opium underground and into the protection of the Taliban and al-Qaida, placing them on the opposite side of the battle line. Jorrit Kamminga, Director of Policy Research at The Senlis Council in Paris, an international policy think tank, concurs in an opinion letter to the Independent paper in London on May 1, 2008. “However, the current strategy used to combat escalating opium production levels – forced poppy crop eradication – has destroyed the livelihoods of entire farming communities, driving them into the hands of the Taliban and putting UK troops at further risk,” Jorrit writes (Letter, Original Article). Scorched Earth policies have never won hearts and minds.
Besides sharing the hyperbolic name “war,” and despite their seeming contradictory tactics, the WoD and the WoT are in fact two different fronts in the same war. This war is a fight for control, a fight against personal freedom and personal morality. The governments of the U.S. and their allies try to police what one puts into one’s own body (and sometimes one’s mind) under the auspices of imposing some contrived public morality with their WoD, yet they condemn the Taliban for imposing their own (extreme Islamic) morality. I guess they just don’t like competition! Where the WoD is an open and violent front in this war for control, the WoT is mainly a propaganda front – a very active and violent propaganda. The message isn’t meant for those being bombed, though, it is meant for those most affected by it; the citizens of the United States. The propaganda is a kind of opiate to cow us by fear and distract us from a serious fleecing of our rights and dignity as sovereign beings. They could just give us the Afghan heroine, but that would be contradictory to the WoD and interfere with the sale of the sanctioned drugs of the pharmaceutical industry currently tasked with sedation.