If I Was a Warlord…

A field of opium poppies in Burma.

Image via Wikipedia

A quick follow-up on my post below. I’ve been thinking about that NATO opiate loophole. To refresh the memory: it’s the rule of engagement that says American and other forces are only allowed to go after Taliban related opium production facilities and smugglers. My initial response was to make fun of NATO and ISAF, and question what seems like a ridiculous restriction.

Then I put my Afghan drug-running warlord cap on, and I saw a great business opportunity. If I was an Afghan drug warlord who knew the U.S. was only after Taliban heroin pushers, I’d be the first in line to tell the Americans where the bad “Taliban-related facilities” and opium fields were. These “Taliban related facilities” would, coincidentally, be run by my competitors in the opium trade. Yes, I’d make sure to give the NATO folks real good intel on all the whereabouts of the evil Taliban druggies, and thank them graciously for helping me increase my opium market share, er, I mean, make my country safe from terrorists.

(Of course, as a Good Drug Smuggling Warlord, my definition of Taliban would be “guys I don’t like.” If you think I’m exaggerating, it’s a common story in both Iraq and Afghanistan–locals feeding bad intel to the U.S. to get the Americans to settle their feuds for them. A soldier who was involved in the Surge in the Sunni Triangle summed it up like so: “Our platoon had a joke about our Iraqi Security Forces, and who the ISF said was Al Qaeda in Iraq. The ISF definition for AQI was: “Other Iraqis that owe us money.”)

This bit of War Nerd-like imagining led to another, more conspiratorial, line of thinking. It’s fairly well known that elements of the official Afghan government are heavily connected to the drug trade. Ergo, that NATO rule of engagement may be necessary because it gives the Americans and our NATO allies a loophole to get out of detaining or killing the relatives of Afghan government officials and destroying their property or business interests. To put it another way: NATO needs to make a distinction between the two, the good druggies versus the bad druggies, otherwise they’d be attacking the government they’re supporting. On retrospect, maybe it’s not such a silly rule after all… 

 

Advertisements

About michaelhastings

Journalist
This entry was posted in Afghanistan, Afghanistanimation, Disturbingly Personal, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to If I Was a Warlord…

  1. Jeff McMahon says:

    “If I was an Afghan drug warlord who knew the U.S. was only after Taliban heroin pushers, I’d be the first in line to tell the Americans where the bad “Taliban-related facilities” and opium fields were.”

    Might you also be inclined to tell the Americans that your competition, your rival, or your neighborhood foe is a Taliban-related opium grower, even if he isn’t?

    • Michael Hastings says:

      Hi Jeff, that’s what I wrote, I think, unless I’m missing something. You feed the Americans bad intel against your rivals, whether Taliban or not.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s