Sunday, February 20, 2005


Pankaj Mishra has an interesting article on the state of play in Afghanistan in the current issue of the New York Review of Books. His basic line is that the place is an unstable mess, in part due to mistakes in American policies and tactics.

I think his most interesting section is on drugs, describing as he does why it is that small farmers choose to grow opium (because they're rational economic actors, that's why) and why they are the ultimate losers in the country's political dance between drug revenues and illusory crackdowns. Meanwhile the coffers of the self-same warlords whose behaviour brought the Taliban on the country and who are now supported as government officials and as allies in the war on terror, are engorged by the revenue of the opium crop.

The end of the article hints at Karzai's seeming to be making some headway, but it is in general a rather tragic piece about a country repeatedly invaded by always invisible.

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