Friday, August 3, 2007

Condoleeza Rice visits Mahmoud Abbas to show Washington's...

Condi Rice pledge $80 mn. to Palestine Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for building up the Authority's security services.


jordan bishop said...

Reading Barnett Rubin. He commands respect. And he respects Ann Marlowe even as he disagrees with her. I have always been amazed at journalists who zoom into some place for a week and know all about it. Ann Marlowe has visited Afghanistan eight times, according to Rubin. She has been "on the ground". But when all is done, I am still much impressed with John C. Griffiths's 2001 book Afghanistan (London, Carlton Books, 2001). He had written an earlier one in 1981. He has lived in Afghanistan for something like forty years.
1. Griffiths has written that most Afghans do not like foreigners coming into their countries and trying to modernize them. He claimed, in 2001, that even the UN is not trusted, being regarded as a tool of "the great satan".
2. A friend of mine in Montreal, an economist with long experience (she is 84), agrees entirely with Griffiths about the poppies. He thinks (thought in 2001) that if we want to deal with this we should buy up the whole crop at market prices.
3. Our news media note, for example, that more opium is produced in Helmand than in Malasia. I do not know if anyone knows, but I have seen some estimates to the effect that more opium is produced in territory controlled by the Northern Alliance Warlords than in Helmand. Serious poppie eradication will come up against "our guys" in Afghanistan. Griffiths noted that when the UN embargo was placed on the Taliban govt, one item in the embargo was simply not enforced: a ban on the importation of acetic anhydride, essential for the production of heroin.
4. Nato is incredibly divided, since Nato governments are not in agreement about what should be done in Afghanistan. Apparently the Europeans have prevented the yanks from spraying poppie fields (as in Colombia, which not only kills poppies but also peasant subsistence crops, and is hardly apt to win hearts and minds).
5. This morning's Ottawa Citizen quotes a local security expert (university-based) to the effect that "It's got to be a balance where making the central Afghan government stronger and giving it the power and ability to govern its own affairs has to be the critical component in longer-term solutions." Admittedly, I have never been in Afghanistan---my own knowledge of it is from books and journalism. But facing this I am like Las Casas on the requirimiento. I don't know whether to laugh or cry. Most people who I find credible seem to think that the writ of central government in Afghanistan doesn't go much beyond the suburbs of Kabul. One suspects that this effective central government in Afghanistan will be operational about the time that the United States becomes a wholly-owned subsidiary of China.

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