Merchant of Death
Money, Guns, Planes, and the Man Who Makes War Possible

Blood from Stones

Visit Douglas Farah's
author page at

Press Releases

The Real Warning Signs on Afghanistan
Perhaps the single biggest deterrent to a successful insurgency or armed movement is the civilian population. If they are with the insurgency, the armed group will endure, if not necessarily prevail. Without popular support, or at least tolerance, the group will wither.

So it is really alarming to read the Washington Post story about the growing nostalgia for the Taliban in Kabul and other areas under government control in Afghanistan.

Much has been written about how the Taliban is gaining ground, the role that the poppy/opium trade plays in financing the group, the help received from Pakistan's ISI etc. But none to me indicates the depths of the problem there as this changing attitude in what should be the progressive areas where radical Islamism is not a popular concept.

"The government is weak, and it has an enormously high level of tolerance for crime, abuse and corruption," said Nader Nadery, an official of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission. "If you have power and money, you don't have to account for your actions. Instead of the rule of law, there is a state of impunity, which is one of the factors contributing to the growth of the Taliban."

It is unlikely the dithering and debate in NATO and among U.S. agencies will be the answer.

It is a testament to how badly botched the Afghanistan project is (the weak Karzai government, the rampant corruption, the uncontrolled crime, and, of course, the soaring drug trade) that it would cross people's mind to wax nostalgic for the Middle Ages.

Yet it is not unpredictable. The tragedy is that the failures of the this magnitude are often a prelude to victory for the insurgent groups. In recent history, these groups have been terrorist groups affiliated with al Qaeda.

It is perhaps the radicals' most effective recruitment tool as well as their best claim to represent a legitimate alternative to the weak, abusive and corrupt systems in place.

The Islamic Courts Union in Somalia took power in part by ending the chaos, establishing some basic infrastructure and giving people the small gift of being able to drive from one end of the capital to the other without fear of ambush or robbery.

An invasion by foreign troops, backed by the United States, failed to deal with the same basic issues, allowing the ICU to regroup and rebuilt a support base, and again be operating in and around Mogadishu.

Sound vaguely familiar?

The Taliban initially rose to power in exactly the same way, and received much of their financing from businessmen and transporters who simply could not afford to stop at multiple roadblocks an pay bribes to each group. The Taliban made it safe to drive across the country.

The current government, despite billions in foreign aid etc., has again failed at the most basic tasks of being a government. It is not inconceivable that history will repeat itself again with the Taliban. And we will all pay the price, not just in terms of giving radical Islam a state home again, but in the inability of the much-touted liberal democratic model to actually fulfill basic expectations.

Of course, the radical Islamists don't either, and the pendalum eventually swings, but the price is high, the suffering great and the damage is enormous.
The Criminal-Terrorist Pipeline In Full View
A Noteworthy Conviction in the Criminal-Terrorist Nexus
Maintained by Winter Tree Media, LLC