Afghanistan can hardly be called a country in the organizational sense. It is a loose conglomerate of tribes which are for the most part autonomous. The people owe their allegiance to their tribal chiefs firstly. The “government” in that country is a government of the city which it occupies and little further. There is little money to be earned there.
The average male Afghani is less than 18 years old, can expect to live only 26 more years and if employed in useful work makes $700 dollars (US) per year, But the catch is that 2 out of every 5 is unemployed and 75% are illiterate. Some subsist by crossing the border into Iran and then coming back across to collect the $20 the guards will give them to return to their own country, but that will last only as long as he isn’t recognized as a previous border crosser.
So there you have it: Young men simmering in testosterone with nothing to do but farm for opium and herd animals. The coolest people they know, the Taliban, have pocket money probably raised in the United States and strut confidently about while carrying mean looking automatic weapons. What would you expect to happen? It used to be that they could at least make a living growing and transporting opium but that is no longer easy. Nothing is easy.
How do we win here? Three possibilities:
1) We declare victory and walk away.
2) We spend billions and billions educating, developing, and supporting with U.S. aid at a level that will allow the Afghanistan young people to find respect, joy and satisfaction in their normal lives. There is a tantalizing rumor of valuable mining possibilities in the mountains.
3) We kill them by the hundreds of thousands and then feed, maintain, and dominate the crushed remainder.
— Lee Smith.