Tuesday, February 24, 2009

We could make a lovely salad

As discussed in class, reducing Afghan production of poppy would be a significant movement towards stabilizing the system. In addition to pomegranates, I have heard that watermelons from Tajikistan are great, so Afghani melons may be tasty too. Combined they would make a lovely salad.

While we are talking about food, it seems appropriate to recall a conversation I had with a high school friend, who had spent four years with the navy in Japan:

"Hey that is great, Japan; so are you fluent in Japanese, or what?"
"Oh, no way. I learned to say yes, no, sorry, for a bit, but forgot all that by now."
"Well, its a hard language. But I bet you had some great sushi, and love the stuff now."
"No way. Never tried it. Looked gross."
"Wow. Well, what did you think was the best part about Japan, and their country?"
"Well, its hard to like too many things - since the island is so crowded. But their trains are effecient."

Now, I think anyone who had spent four hours in Japan would know these things. This correlates to known troop isolation from everything native (i.e., Come to Iraq, the food is great! What kind of food d they have here? Imported steaks every night).

I'm all for steaks, but since we are in a bit of a squeeze with supply routes recently, and the Russians maybe want us to suffer a little bit in Afghanistan, can't we integrate with the people more, and buy their pomegranates and watermelon? I would think if we could funnel in a percentage of our food, it might help encourage production, especially since we are going to be there for a while, and in increasing numbers. The troops will like watermelon, it is super-American. Maybe they will like pomegranates too.


Slim_Charles said...

I still think, rather than coercing a farmer into changing his crop, it may be better from a COIN standpoint to allow him to continue to grow poppies and find some way to make sure that his profits don't go to the Taliban. The problem with this would be that the poppies would still be going onto the market, but I think the drug problem is better treated on the demand side.

Warmonger said...

This post makes a good point. Our service contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan are very expensive. We could subsidize Afghan farmers to supply lots of fruits and other crops and would cut down on a lot of procurement from vendors.

There has to be a limit to how much of an impact that would have though.

To the above comment, the Taliban make the trade in poppies possible. They protect fields from eradication and protect the traffickers' routes.

The U.S. would have to allow them to grow opium, removing the need for Taliban protection from eradication. However, traffickers still need protection, not just because of poppies, but because they smuggle other things as well. Also, they run into problems at other borders - so in all likelihood the Taliban would still receive a cut from the traffickers even if they don't get it from the farmers.