Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The Economics of War

This week's File on Four covers the war in Afghanistan. Our stereotype of the Taleban tends towards the religous fanatic. An interview with a Taleban fighter reveals a different story:

“I'm fighting with a Kalashnikov and an RPG - a rocket propelled grenade launcher,” he said. “I'm not trying to take over the country. I am just trying to earn my salary.”

Compared to his previous work in the coal mines, fighting is easy and the pay is much better. He goes on to explain the Taleban even offer bonuses for killing American soldiers. An interview with an opium farmer reveals a similar economic motivations. He'd happily grow vegetables, but the market for opium is just so much better. This highlights the core economic problems behind the current problems in Afghanistan (and many other places in the world). Instead of the Wars on Terror and Drugs, perhaps Dubya should launch a War on Farm Subsidies. It ought to play well at home given that France is one of the main proponents of the EU's Common Agricultural Policy.

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