Sorry for the Matrix reference, this is serious. Recent news about what NATO may soon be up to in Afghanistan.
"MUNICH – In an effort to strike at a key income source for Taliban militants, the top NATO commander said Sunday that operations to attack drug lords and labs in Afghanistan will begin within the "next several days." "
The wording is key here. They say drugs are "a" key source of income. I wouldn't be able to tell you how important they are, but here's an interesting excerpt from Antonio Giustozzi's book (Koran, Kalashnikov, and Laptop), from page 88.
"Others, including most foreign diplomats, maintain that drugs remain a secondary source of revenue for the Taliban and that there is little evidence of them encouraging the farmers to grow poppies and of their involvement in the trade. This author tends to side with (this) group for three reasons. First, the traffickers are unlikely to be willing to give up a major share of their profits to the Taliban, particularly in the presence of overproduction and of competition from corrupt police officers and increasingly even ANA officers encourting their favours (note omitted here - P.M.). Second, if substantial amounts of money were turned to field commanders this would likely have resulted in a fragmentation of the Taliban chain of command, as commanders would become more autonomous."
For social scientists, the world is a huge and imperfect laboratory. I am a social scientist. Ergo... no, I am not happy to see NATO testing whether Giustozzi's thesis is correct. I just hope things work out well, even if I'm not convinced about that.
Meanwhile, here are some only loosely related but strongly endorsed readings:
Lieven Leaves Me Shaking My Head, at Bill and Bob's;
Abbas Daiyar: Playing With Fire: Arming Tribal Militias Won't Work.