When you want to eradicate a disease, simply taking the anodyne route to the symptoms will only guarantee the long life of that disease. On a political front, simply attacking the Taliban or its symbiotic parasite Al Qaeda is no more effective than crushing only the termites in your house that you can see.
If you don’t attack the root cause of the problem and determine what the pest is feeding on, you will never get rid of it. In other words, with your political foes and their dogmatic ideologies, you must determine the root cause of their issues with you. Then, when you realize that you cannot change a closed mind mentality, you must find out what keeps them going. And, as we have often learned: follow the money.
In the case of Afghanistan, the fuel that feeds the insurgency is opium. In the land of the poppy there is no other more profitable crop. As long as the opium trade is under the control of the warlords who are using the the profits to support the dreadful duo of Taliban and Al Qaeda, the pestilence will continue indefinitely.
Killing insurgents there is a no-win game. Foreign troops on the ground in support of an ineffectual, corrupt government is the enemy’s most motivating recruitment device. I suppose we could even debate the term ‘insurgent’ as it has the same meaning in some circles as ‘freedom fighter’. That is, if you are rebelling against an inept, corrupt government, aren’t you fighting for a principled cause?
Forget about forcing western-style democracy down the throats of a tribal, sectarian population. If the leaders of that country ever get connected with the rest of the world they may evolve into their own form of democracy. After all, is the US plutocracy model one to be emulated?
So, how does one take control of the poppy/opium/heroin trade cycle? Because the world does need opium derivatives quite legitimately, so why don’t our world leaders look upon this crop as a resource for the benefit of humankind? Instead of fighting the ‘freedom fighters’ (or Afghani patriots, if you prefer), why aren’t we fighting the warlords for control of the poppy farms. The illegitimate trafficking of heroin would be better controlled and the supply to addicts and their pushers here in the west would be diminished. The Afghani farmers would then be able to diversify as the supply of opium soon would outstrip demand. Or is this just another impossible dream?