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Wrong medicine
Sending more troops not enough

Obama has recently announced that he will send additional NATO troops to Afghanistan to stabilize the situation. However, troops cannot solve the larger issues faced by Afghanistan.

The major stumbling block is corruption, where the enemy is ironically far better placed. To fight corruption in its ranks, the Taliban has set up its own anti-corruption committees in 33 provinces. It also runs its own courts, which are known for quick justice without the need to pay bribes. The US is trying to win over mid-level Taliban commanders with lucrative job offers and offering them good money, which is, to a large extent, not working! In comparison, the Afghan military is hopelessly incompetent, ill-equipped and highly corrupt. Afghanistan supplies over 90% of the world’s opium and heroin, which brings in billions in revenue each year. So much so that even the US Drug Enforcement Administration reports, “Heroin is more valuable than oil. Example: A ton of crude oil costs less than $290 - but a ton of heroin cost $67 million in Europe; and a ton of heroin in New York cost between $300-$900 million.” The warlords of the region are facilitating the whole trade.

President Hamid Karzai has stressed on ending “the culture of impunity and violations of law.” Opposition leader Dr.Abdullah has blamed overseas interests for the malaise, as he comments, “For that sort of corruption, it’s the international community that also shares responsibility with us.” To contend with the growing Talibanism in 2001, the US had turned to these warlords for help. Even today, NATO still has to rely on some of them for security in the provinces. According to American officers in Afghanistan, tribals will gladly take money and assure the eradication of insurgents without taking up arms. But the resulting corruption is going to stand in the way of all attempts to bring long term stability to Afghanistan. If Obama is serious about saving Afghanistan, he needs to tackle this parallel economy at the earliest. Soldiers simply cannot win this war.

By:- Sray Agarwal

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