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Saturday, March 6, 2010

Short term deployments for long term problems


One of the more interesting proposals I've seen in a while, at least:

This year, the aid workers should be prepared to pay farmers compensation for any opium crops they are unable to harvest as a result of the fighting, and the Western coalition should help the groups develop a microcredit system.

-Joshua Foust, NYT

The microcredit system seems very clever. It seems that it might be lawful for the farmers to assign their debt obligations to someone else, so that the religious issues are skirted. Paying for opium crops has to come with strings attached - if done, it has to be done over time, not with cash, and with an eye toward gathering intel on the Taliban.

The solution to this problem seems to be "transition" in COIN-speak, but ...

This looks like part of a familiar pattern: troops move into an area, kill anyone firing a machine gun, then move on to the next, bigger target hoping they have left behind a functioning government. It’s why many communities in central Helmand have experienced three influxes of NATO forces in three years

Update: I just read somewhere that the US's official policy is not to do anything about production, but to target traffickers. If that is current, then ... USG, always a step behind...