Afghanistan: April 13, 2004


Since last Summer, warlord and Taliban violence have led to 2-3 deaths a day, on average. Not a lot for a country of over 20 million. But the best peacekeepers are not soldiers, but words and money. President Karzai has troops (both Afghan and foreign), but he has so far been more successful negotiating deals with the dozens of warlords. While the Afghans are keeping good records on the foreign aid (and doing an admirable job to preventing most of it from being simply stolen), the money is going to projects in areas where cooperative warlords hang out. 

The Afghan people, by and large, are tired of constant war and want to get a better life. This requires jobs. Unfortunately, the best source of jobs with high pay are in the heroin business. Grow poppies and make many times what you would by growing grain. High paying jobs are available in refining the poppies to heroin and other drugs, and in moving the drugs into neighboring countries. There is also big demand for gunmen to guard the drug operations. Afghanistan is in danger of turning into another Colombia, where powerful drug gangs will control large portions of the country.

About 140 kilometers south of the capital, on the Pakistan border, 700 coalition and Afghan troops began another operation against Taliban and al Qaeda bases in the mountains. There are apparently going to be more of  these operations, as 2,000 American marines enter the country, swelling coalition forces to 15,000. There are also 5,000 NATO troops in Kabul and other cities.  


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