Friday, September 01, 2006

The Opium War

"It's bad news and we need to improve it," said Thomas Schweich, principal deputy assistant secretary of state for international narcotics. "But we don't feel it's a hopeless situation, and we don't think the overall strategy is the wrong strategy." He was describing a possible 40 percent increase this year in land under opium poppy cultivation, despite hundreds of millions of dollars spent in counternarcotics efforts in a country which produces more than 90% of the world's opium and heroin supply. Wikinews has an overview of the 2005 Afghan opium crop and highlights the tug of war between the Bush administration and the Karzai government over opium policy. It would be ironic if the US effectively recognizes a legal trade in narcotics abroad while fighting it at home.

7 Comments:

Blogger Gene C Evans said...

It's not a hopeless situation. As long as Congress continues to appropriate money for the War on Drugs Mr. Schweich will be assured of employment, so of course he is optimistic. He will remain so for the rest of his career if given the opportunity.


Gene

9/01/2006 03:03:00 PM  
Blogger Reocon said...

"September 1, 2006
Pentagon Releases Grim Report on Iraq
By MICHAEL R. GORDON
WASHINGTON, Sept. 1 — Iraqi casualties soared by more than 50 percent during the roughly three-month period ending in early August, the product of spiraling sectarian clashes and a Sunni-based insurgency that remains “potent and viable,” the Pentagon noted today in an comprehensive assessment of security in Iraq.

In a grim 63-page report, the Pentagon chronicled bad news on a variety of fronts. One telling indicator was the number of weekly attacks, which reached an all-time high in July."

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/01/world/middleeast/01cnd-military.html?hp&ex=1157169600&en=1fe8dd0fc7c09a05&ei=5094&partner=homepage



Wretchard seems to have a unique ability to find a temporary lull in violence in Iraq and overinflate it as tendency. A "potent and viable" Sunni insurgency? I read here they were "defeated" in January! Lulls happen in all wars, the real gauge in progress for this bizarre conflict, as Wretchard has pointed out in previous posts, will be on the political front and that is not hopeful. That front seems curiously neglected on this blog in favor of oddly panglossian reports on the military campaign. Those posts (e.g. Fall '05, Winter '06) tend to have a short shelf life.

The thuggish Mashdani has retained his Speakership of Parliament (what imbecile in the White House allowed this terrorist to meet with the POTUS?!) PM Maliki, however good his intentions, is still a member of Dawa, a Shiite Islamist party allied with Sadr. Maliki must break with both the alliance and his party if he is to live up to his fine words, and for that he would need a new political base. A break between Dawa/SCIRI and Sadr may not be a good thing, for if the Shiites fragment, then today's chaos could seem orderly. Meanwhile, the entire central government of Iraq is still hunkered down within the Green Zone, an American protected citadel.

I am eager, desperate even, to be proven wrong here. My pessimism stems from the fact that Shiite Islamists parties (the United Iraqi Alliance) won last year's elections and make up the core of the Iraqi government. I do not trust them and do not think they share America's goals. Can Belmonters please disabuse me of these notions and point to an "evolution" in thinking and style within the UIA? I need more than just the pronouncements of Maliki, I would like to see reports of party negotiations among SCIRI, Dawa, Sadr and Fadhila . . . that is the real power brokers.

9/01/2006 03:20:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

recon,

Gateway Pundit has a post claiming violent deaths have been halved in August. Some analysts are now claiming that the destruction of the Sunni dominance (which is one way to say "defeat" of the Sunni insurgency) has now created inordinate Shi'ite influence. Well, if the Sunni insurgency isn't defeated, why is Sadr now the Big One? Back on 2003 he was, relative to the Sunni insurgents, a minor player.

9/01/2006 03:37:00 PM  
Blogger whit said...

This "whack a mole" schtick with Sunnis then Shias is getting old and the US public will conclude that these jokers aren't worth it. If there is to be a viable Iraq, someone in Iraqi government needs to inspire more confidence. This can only be done with a serious crackdown on whoever is perpetrating the violence. In other words, the Iraqis need to get control.

They can start by "whacking" the Mehdi army into oblivion. This would go a long way toward not only furthering stability but sending a signal to Iran. It would also reassure the US public that Iraq is not a lost cause.

Will it happen? Who knows?

9/02/2006 03:26:00 AM  
Blogger Papa Ray said...

There is just about as much chance of cutting the production of poppies in the Afghan as there is getting American farmers to cut back on the production of corn or wheat.

Anyone that thinks different should read Michael Yon and other reports about the farming of poppies there.

As far as Iraq goes, it will be who ever is the strongest that survives their civil war. Iran is helping way too much and it will be up to the IA to push them out. al Sadr is the key, I think, but even if he is gone there are way too many that want Islamic rule and want the U.S. out of Iraq. Those will have to be dealt with also.

Look for mega bases and a twenty to thiry year stay for U.S. Troops and other U.S. institutions.

And that is actually what was inferred several times at the start of this battle in Iraq. No one said it would quick and easy (except the liberals, say that Bush and Rummy said it)

Papa Ray

9/02/2006 09:05:00 AM  
Blogger Reocon said...

wretchard said...
recon,

"Gateway Pundit has a post claiming violent deaths have been halved in August. Some analysts are now claiming that the destruction of the Sunni dominance (which is one way to say "defeat" of the Sunni insurgency) has now created inordinate Shi'ite influence. Well, if the Sunni insurgency isn't defeated, why is Sadr now the Big One? Back on 2003 he was, relative to the Sunni insurgents, a minor player.

9/01/2006 03:37:06 PM "

Wretchard,
My critique is that by focusing on the relative lulls in casualties, you've been neglecting the politics among the Shiite Islamist parties and Sunni parties, and are therefore in a poor analytic light when casualties continue to rise. A quick browse through past posts should show this tendency. I think Gateway Pundit is doing this as well, since the last four days in Iraq are not supportive of the thesis that the situation has turned around. A better metric might be whether the political factions have cohered into an effective government, and in order to measure that you'd need to dive into the morass of internal Iraqi politics. It seems to me that we’re attempting/hoping for the relatively more moderate wing of SCIRI/Dawa over Sadr. This means prizing a wing that is implicitly pro-Hezbollah/Iran over one that is explicitly so. Poor choices, but are they yours? Do you actually support the Dawa led government of Maliki? Do you think it’s possible for the US to socially engineer a liberal, tolerant and bureaucratically effective Iraqi government, or are you just hoping for a deus ex machina, a magical formula that the Shiites stumbled upon?

As to the disparate Sunni insurgency: they've never had the ability to seize control over the whole of Iraq. That dream vanished, whether they know it or not, with the fall of Saddam's state. The goals that should concern us are 1) to cause enough instability to make central rule impossible without their support. 2) To rule the Anbar province as an autonomous district. 3) To give the American Occupation a black eye and force its withdrawal. If you think they've suffered a "defeat" in any of these three goals then why does the new Pentagon report I cited claim the Sunni insurgency is "potent and viable"? Do you think the Pentagon report is wrong?

9/02/2006 02:38:00 PM  
Blogger Reocon said...

Papa Ray said...
"al Sadr is the key, I think, but even if he is gone there are way too many that want Islamic rule and want the U.S. out of Iraq. Those will have to be dealt with also."

Papa Ray, Islamist political parties are THE majority in Iraq, just how do you propose to "deal" with that fact? By socially engineering a new Iraqi society through big government projects or by killing them until they see the light of a liberal, secular society? I've yet to hear a rational explanation from a conservative over how to create a viable government in Iraq, perhaps because conservatives profess not to believe in nation-building.

9/02/2006 02:43:00 PM  

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