Setting the Record Straight

July 26, 2008

Outside the Box: Afghanistan

 Make Bribery, Not War

     Instead of spending a trillion dollars in Iraq/Afghanistan in a fruitless attempt for a conventional military victory, what if we spent a fraction of that bribing our way to victory?
     Let’s start with bribing Afghanistan, i.e., afghanis for Afghanis.
     We cannot defeat the Taliban, Al-Queda or any other guerrilla force with U.S. boots on the ground. The problems in Afghanistan are easily identifiable. So why don’t we take what we know about them and bribe our way to victory.

     Afghanis depend for a lot of their gross domestic product on the poppy plant. The Afghan guerrillas , as well as the various warlords depend on the poppy for their financial strength. The welfare of the Afghanis logically lies with the guerrillas and not with the United States.
     What if we offered each of the 7.5 million households in Afghanistan the equivalent of $250, or one year’s average income. That would amount to less than the $2.3 billion we spend in one month now in Afghanistan short 10,000 troops on a fruitless venture.
     Naturally, we would attach strings. To receive the money, Afghan farmers would have to quit growing poppies and grow crops for human or livestock consumption, alternative energy, anything but addictive purposes. Their earnings would be on top of the year’s worth of income we already gave them. Additional support in subsequent years would be provided as needed.
     Non-farming Afghans would have other requirements, but coupled with incentives to earn additional income beyond the year’s stipend we gave them.
     We would still need a military presence to maintain order and try to fend off the cheaters. But our military presence could include a new type of warrior, one who is more sociologist than fighter and could include warriors trained at least in a semblance of other professions.
     With a new-found wealth, the populace would have a new-found strength to make new-found demands on its government. Eventually, having tasted capitalism, it is likely to embrace that system of government. It may not choose to be democratic, but as with other countries embracing capitalism, democracy likely will come with time. Until then, we would at least have a new trading partner.
     We could use the same bribery to get our way in much of the rest of the undeveloped world, if that is what we are going to continue insisting on, with less loss of life and less outlay of dollars.
     The evils of the world thrive on poverty. They are hard put to exist where there is little of it. 


     Sure. We could list hundreds; others would list 10 times more, from those fearing copiers of “The Mouse That Roared” to people citing real problems. That’s the way it is with thinking outside the box.
     For example, in Afghanistan, actually administering that bribery system (first, we would have to use a better-sounding euphe- mism) would cost far more than the $2 billion initial bribe. But we are now spending $2.3 billion a month there before we even begin to build up our troop strength.
     For example, can we guarantee making bribery, not war would work? Of course not. But we can guarantee that waging war against a guerrilla force the same old way will not work and will be far more costly in both the short and long runs.

     But first, we think.




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