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    we cannot be held responsible if the future turns out differently due to inaccuracies in the present..., 2005-02-02 08:48:58 | Main | "courage and honesty"..., 2005-02-02 18:33:02

    continuing the brave fight against the awesome incompetence of the NGO community:

    checking in with The Argus, Nathan Hamm - in his ongoing pillow fight against that special category of villain - demolishes CARE with a devasting attack on their not necessarily inconsistency but nevertheless utter failure to provide a viable alternative program to poppy eradication.

    Or something. CARE said in March 2004:

    Long-term success depends on helping Afghan families increase income through legal means. In the short-term, enforcement should focus on those involved in the financing, processing, and trafficking of opium.

    ...The illicit economy, driven by demand from the developed world and the surrounding region and supported by international organized crime, constitutes the tax base for insecurity.

    Nowhere is there any mention of what NH claims is a call to "Eradicate ... poppy cultivation". So what is not "necessarily inconsistent" is in fact perfectly consistent with current statements regarding "disproportionate focus on eradication".

    Just to gloss over the relevant facts from the report: poppy farmers make 4 times ($2,500/yr) the income of non-poppy farmers, poppy labourers make a little over double ($6.77/day). Traffickers, meanwhile, generate 1.3 billion/yr in profits, and international organized crime generate $30 billion/yr off the Afghan drug trade. The 1.3 billion figure is presumably after-tax income, having being siphoned through a system of corrupt officials and narco-taxing warlords.

    So CARE thinks that the drug trafficking generates revenue for warlords/terrorists and deepens the corruption of the state, creating insecurity and weakening the legal economy. The primary effect of wiping out poppy crops is exacerbating existing poverty while the warlords who are already in power and the state which is already corrupt would both remain so after slimming their margins slightly: a smaller harvest means greater demand which means the prices go up - last I heard the stuff is cheaper in England than coffee at this point. The effect on narco-taxing through eradication would be tertiary at best, while directly generating more destitute people. Better the second order effects of drying up "easily replaceable" sources of income move poppy cultivators into legal crop production the next year than wipe out their farm this one. I.e. hose the problem before soaking the poor.

    update: Comment banned, and redirected to fbi.gov. That's a first.

    "Their criticism of the eradication plan is well-placed", he says, by which he means CARE's criticism is constructive, before immediately - shall we say whining - that they could be more constructive.

    The Afghan country director for CARE isn't quoted saying anything about “potential destabilization” in the story he links to, the article paraphrases a joint statement from some 30 organizations to that effect - which, sure, you'd think with the drug market outpacing the legal economy that it might be considered a pretty serious problem that, you know, if you have a black market as large as your white market then erradicating it is "potentially destabalizing". Bringing that up is the "sudden change in narrative", I guess. The guy from CARE says "We are not so much opposed to eradication as we are a disproportionate focus on eradication" and other overheated, breathlessly announced statements about impending doom that demand utter perfection in return. You can see he is out of line.

    CARE doesn't do things like Mercy Corps does things, that's why Nathan likes Mercy Corps and working off his arrogant presumptions makes stuff up about what CARE says to attack CARE, and now makes stuff up about what CARE doesn't do to attack CARE, the organization that doesn't do anything but scream about the sky falling. Another organization of "presumptious, arrogant fools" that we're thusly lucky work with less and wield less influence over the affairs of whole nations than, say, the World Bank, of which all those unspecified stories the Western Public believes but are in fact really just white elephants, you suckers.

    In other news I am the complete and utter asshole.

    re-update: To be flogged, I suppose, would be stories about claims about Afghan farmers switching to wheat in eastern Nangarhar province and southern Helmand, demonstrating the success of backing off threats of mass erradication, apparently. Nangarhar, where the US provided 490 tons of wheat seed and 1,000 tons of fertilizer. Helmand and Nangarhar, where the US is paying labourers $3 a day to clean irrigation ditches and repair roads instead of planting poppy. Etc.

:: posted by buermann @ 2005-02-02 11:44:31 CST | link

      I would disagree with your characterization of my update, but whatever. We obviously have different ideas of what "constructive" means.

      I don't care about being taken to task. Sure, my first inclination is to defend myself, but in the end I agree that it was sloppy work. I'd thank you for pointing it out, but I have a hard time being grateful when someone's being so rude. I'd delve into why I think you do it, but I don't want to go around being a dick in other people's comment sections.

    posted by Nathan @ 2005-02-04 09:14:54 | link

      Your first inclination was to be a dick in your own comments section, which is fine and I - Mr. Condescending Progressive Fighting the Forces of 'Facism' Who Apparently Shouldn't Comment Because He Doesn't List NGO Experience on His Resume and Shouldn't Expect Somebody Attacking a Report To Read It Because Nobody Else Does Either - responded by being a bigger dick, which is the way it goes.

      As far as your update: you don't acknowledge that CARE is persuing much the same programs in Afghanistan for which you praise Mercy Corps, while continuing to attack CARE for rhetoric that was endorsed by both groups. That doesn't seem to indicate different ideas of what "constructive" means.

    posted by buermann @ 2005-02-04 13:28:14 | link

    go ahead, express that vague notion

    your turing test:

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