Afghanistan: February 25, 2002


The search for Osama bin Laden and other remnants of the Taliban and al Qaeda continues. Special forces troops continue to compile more information on the fifty or so major tribes (and hundreds of clans and factions) of Afghanistan. All these groups play a complex game of feud, vendetta and cooperation. The tribes have had some success in feeding the Americans false information to trigger attacks against rivals. But the United States has brought in more intelligence troops, the better to monitor communications and organize all the information on who is who. Between that and more experienced special forces on the ground, it is becoming more difficult for the warlords to play games with the foreigners. The Afghans have also learned how to play the media, organizing demonstrations, against whatever, for the benefit of the foreign press. They have been assisted by some NGOs (which tend to be very media savvy). Since the U.S. troops will generally not allow the media to accompany them into action, the journalists seize on the NGO led media events for stories. 

Near Kandahar, three al Qaeda members were arrested. The area outside Kandahar is still dangerous, with groups of bandits, Taliban and al Qaeda still operating. Robberies, killings and kidnappings are common.

The first battalion of the new national army began training today. A hundred trainers from Turkey, Europe and the U.S. are providing assistance. 

One way to get the most out of aid dollars is to send second hand stuff to Afghanistan. The American IRS is sending a thousand two year old desktop and laptop computers (which are being taken out of service) to Afghanistan for government use. The IRS has asked Congress for $200,000 to pay for shipping and handling. It's customary for similar government and corporate PCs to be shipped to poorer nations. There, the older PCs are a lot cheaper to buy, just as useful and thus quite popular. This has been going on since the 1970s (when older minicomputers were shipped to South America and Asia.)


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