June 28, 2009

COIN 101

Maybe America should've collaborated with Afghanistan before announcing a new counter-narcotics program. Several days after American ambassador Richard Holbrooke said the current strategy to eliminate opium is "the least effective program ever," Afghan counter-narcotics minister General Khodaidad claimed, "Our strategy's perfect."

Mr. Holbrooke is rounding the media outlining the failure of the old strategy more than details of the new strategy, but he still avoided admitting mistakes or apologizing. So we must ask ourselves, why did America deploy such a failed strategy for so long?

America's change of direction is a welcome step - if it succeeds. American officials have already believed they had the right strategy, only for it to become "the least effective program ever." Holbrooke claims the new strategy will target drug labs, traffickers, and lords while developing alternative crops for farmers. Why isn't America doing these things already if it's so obviously the right strategy? Holbrooke doesn't say.

Nor does he blink when he says all America has to do is target drug traffickers and lords. Mr. Holbrooke should take a good look at America itself, into Mexico, and realize how difficult eliminating a drug trade is in peace time. America is militarily shorthanded in Afghanistan, and by logic that extends to counter-narcotics as well.

The high demand for heroin in Europe and Asia is an entirely different problem, one America has even less influence over.

As for the crossfire of statements, did America act unilaterally and leave Afghanistan out of the loop, or do the two governments genuinely disagree on strategy? A positive is hard to find in either scenario. America still seems ignorant of propaganda effects.

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