>From: Paul Werbos <firstname.lastname@example.org>
>It seems that this crisis re Bin Laden is severe enough... that we really
>can't just let go of it
>right now. For myself, there seem to be two lessons: (1) we cannot withdraw
>into our own independent
>lives and activities.. in general.. so much as we might be inclined to; our
>thoughts, however fallible, are an essential part
>of the overall system; (2) yet we must expect to make mistakes... and
>correct them.. which is part of the inevitable price of
>trying to think about something so tricky as this present situation.
>And so... here are some thoughts which I do not endorse, but may be worth
>FIrst, could it be that we have made a fundamental mistake here in
>declaring war on terrorism just now?
>Should we instead have declared war on drugs?
>People have made a lot of comments here that "systems thinking involves
>real awareness of multiple points of view...
>like shifting the actors and seeing what things would look like from
>different vantage points."
>OK, when Al Capone claimed to represent a poor people's Catholic revolution
>against "the real mafia -- the Rockefellers etc."...
>the mafia tried hard to project that message for decades, because it is
>convenient for them.
>The message didn't get all that far in the US, because of the large
>law-abiding Catholic population... which was able to outweigh the
>large and significant but smaller population that did go along with
>Capone's message. And now Osama Bin Laden has really convinced
>most of the West that the base of his motives is a truly religious - if
>fanatic and distorted and aberrated -- quest.
>And even some Moslem leaders have argued, in effect, "He is well meaning
>but slightly ignorant. He simply never understood
>that part about jihads and the innocent." It would be as if a Catholic
>priest said of Capone "He is truly Catholic and
>part of our community... he just never heard about that obscure clause in
>the footnotes about 'Thou shalt not kill.' "
>Likewise, all this hopeful discussion of Taliban giving up Bin Laden ...
>may be an exercise in fuzzy fantasy.
>Let's try some different metaphors here... one crude, and one better.
>Would Taliban give up Bin Laden? Well, would Hitler give up Rommel? It's a
>matter of understanding the
>relationships... Rommel was not just a guest!
>A better analogy: there has been much debate about the US war on drugs in
>Columbia and its neighbors.
>Yet... it is interesting to ask... if this clumsy war on drugs had not been
>so extreme... is it not possible that
>Columbia (or neighbor...) today would be very similar to what Afghanistan is?
>Last night, the TV news stated (I assume correctly this time...) that the
>Taliban zone of influence includes more
>than half the production of raw heroin in the world. Taliban has made
>noises about stopping it...about as honest
>and sincere, I assume, as their noises about turning over Bin Laden and
>being true Moslems and such.
>In fact, it is their government's primary source of income... and the
>original source from which their various
>security operations flow.
>The Latin American drug cartels learned long ago the benefits of buying out
>various "people's liberation" movements,
>which have turned into nothing but shock troops for their operations. Many
>of the fighters on the front lines still
>believe what they started to believe... there is a big psychological and
>practical barrier to admitting even to themselves the
>horror of what they have become. But the midlde level people, who interface
>between those troops and the people who
>pay them and set priorities... know full well the whole picture... and know
>how to manage a more conscious psychopathology.
>In a way... Taliban is a kind of experiment... what happens when one
>DOESN'T do a full-fledged war on drugs.
>And then one might ask... if the US went into Columbia, why was this
>Taliban drug cartel -- not a nation-state but an well-organized
>drug cartel -- left alone for so long? What can we learn from all this?
>On the US side, there are undoubtedly many factors. For example, cocaine
>has been a far worse threat to US society than heroin,
>for the past decade or two. Heroin has been more of a problem for Europe
>and Asia -- suggesting that perhaps Europe and Asia
>should take care of that half of the world's hard drug problem.
>Furthermore, the centers of heroin production have been more
>in the zone where European and Asian powers have influence and capability
>There are tremendous difficulties in defining what is "terrorism," if one
>insists on being infinitely broad about it.
>Sometimes those who insist on being infinitely broad before acting end
>being infinitely dead instead. Sometimes
>it is important to proceed one step at a time, as the next small step
>becomes clear. The word "heroin" is
>a lot easier to define than the word "terrorism." And it is the greater
>part of what really killed those people in
>Perhaps the greatest need at this time would be for the other members of
>the UN Security Council to ask the US
>to put its resources and energy behind a new internationalized version of
>the war on drugs... slightly modifying and
>extending what has been done to help nations in Latin America, and working
>to do something similar in Afghanistan.
>And a first stage might be a UN ultimatum for Afghanistan BOTH to turn over
>bin Laden and his lieutenants, AND
>to burn out the poppy fields themselves... or else be prepared for the
>international community to do it themselves.
>People on this list have at times proposed "bomb them with food." Normally,
>this is not a sensible approach...
>for a long-term approach to global problems... certainly the US is not
>physically able to feed the entire world...
>but certainly I hope the US military have studied carefully what might be
>possible on these lines.
>Perhaps the ability to drop food, and burn out poppy fields, should be
>getting the highest priorities right now,
>in terms of large things that involve the military. (Not to downgrade the
>important efforts to apprehend the
>various criminals, and assist others.)
>As for timing... who knows? There are many, many pros and cons...
>Best of luck,
> Paul W.
>P.S. Speaking of the Capone analogy... some of my own staunch Catholic
>ancestors proposed fighting
>the Capone phenomenon by abolishing Prohibition... something which did
>help, to a significant extent.
>Many have argued that something like the British system of "registered
>addicts" might also help.
>I tend to agree that some form of that system could be a great help in the
>global war on cocaine
>and heroin. (Until Taliban and Bin Laden wnet so far... maybe I would have
>said just cocaine for now...
>one could start there...). But that is not an ALTERNATIVE to doing what
>needs to be done in Afghanistan
>here and now... and it may take some time to work out the details... and,
>in all fairness, to overcome the political taboos
>associated with the subject...
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