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Tuesday, October 31

So you don't like Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin, eh? An object lesson from Afghanistan

Yesterday after watching the Afghan Taliban propaganda video that Long War Journal posted John Batchelor asked LWJ's Bill Roggio how the Taliban obtained all those new vehicles they showed off. Bill replied that they captured the HUMVEES and Ford Ranger pickup trucks from Afghan military and police bases; as to the Toyota Hilux pickups and minivans he said it was anyone's guess but they probably acquired them in Pakistan or Iran.   

Heck, the Taliban are rolling in drug money profits; they could plunk down cash at any new car dealership anywhere in the world for every Toyota on the lot.

For details see the jaw-dropping New York Times report (Afghan Taliban awash in heroin cash, a troubling turn for war; October 29) and Business Insider's October 30 report, based in part on the NYT one (Heroin is driving a sinister trend in Afghanistan), which includes maps of poppy cultivation in Afghanistan by province as of 2016 and a world map of the major heroin trafficking routes. 

Bill also mentioned to John that Taliban control in Afghanistan has gone from 4 districts to 40 in 4 years, and that they hold about another 150 districts under contest. Many of those districts are where the Taliban have taken over opium poppy cultivation and the processing of opium into heroin -- the latter now wildly lucrative for the Taliban, as the NYT report explains.  

What this means is that the Afghan Taliban no longer need support from Pakistan's military or any other state-controlled regime. If they continue to expand their opium processing operations they won't have to fight in order to take over Afghanistan. They'll be able to buy up the entire country and as many mercenaries as they need to do their fighting for them. 

And their drug wealth means they have no incentive to negotiate for peace with what's left of the central government in Kabul.  

So, given that it's now virtually impossible to defeat the Taliban in Afghanistan, is there any way to stop their drug venture?  Not as things stand now. Foreign governments fighting the Taliban are playing ostrich about the entire poppy situation and drug trade in the country.

This said, the Trump Administration could still have a fighting chance if they accepted Vladimir Putin's advice that governments wanting to fight the terrorists should form "one fist." Oh but that's right I forgot; Trump did want to follow the advice. But for daring to suggest that the U.S. cooperate with Russia he came under fire from virtually the entire U.S. Congress and, it seems, the entire U.S. military and Intelligence Establishment, and of course the mainstream U.S. news media.

[shrugging]  In 2005 I warned on this blog that the ball was now in humanity's court; if we didn't want to see the appearance of another Genghis Khan, we would do well to get our collective act together.

Nobody listened. Instead, much of humanity, at least in the democratic countries, began to demonstrate with the advent of Internet 2.0 all the symptoms of what might be called a case of mass ADHD.

Today we see large numbers of those attention-deficit people shaking their forefingers at Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin. Believe you me, what will arise to keep order in a world under fire from Taliban types will make those two authoritarians look like Justin Trudeau.

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