Friday, October 29, 2010

Pragmatism at its finest

I read a lot of blogs, especially MilBlogs, and every once in a while something catches my eye that condenses a situation down and distills it into a most potent elixir of understanding.

From Free Range International comes this:

I wanted to talk about fighting and tactics; Dave wanted to talk about the value added chain and time horizons. ”The main problem we face here is that the poppy has a value added chain. A farmer is given the seed, he is given the fertilizer – poppy doesn’t take much water or care while growing – and at harvest time he is given guys who score the flowers and collect the dope. At the end of the season he is given a portion of the harvest to sell or barter. The dope is then moved, processed and smuggled out of the country. Poppy has a well established added value chain which provides employment for lots of people while making life easy for the farmer. It costs him little to grow and doesn’t take much work. We want to sell him seed and fertilizer for a crop which is difficult to grow and much more susceptible to failure due to bad weather, floods and insects. We want him to harvest it and want him to take it to market and sell it. There are no value added processes to employ other people. There is no cold storage, no food processing plants, no grain elevators, no good roads, and no teamsters to truck produce using economies of scale. What would you do if you were a farmer in southern Helmand?”

It's been this way since we went into The 'Stan, and here we are 9 years later, and nothing's changed. This is the same thing that we face here in the US with Mexican drug gangs. It's far more profitable for the cartels to buy everything for the farmer, and give him some of the profits. It's like leasing the land, and giving the farmer a bonus for doing next to nothing.

The profit motive MUST be taken out of the drug trade. Increasing penalties for possession and sales aren't working any more.

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