After much meditation, consideration, research and a certain amount of gnashing of teeth, The Poet’s Eye has devised a strategy that he believes will set the course right in Afghanistan. I call it Operation Xanadu. Since President Obama is taking his time to readjust our strategy in Afhanistan, I am going to have my people talk to his people and put forth my solution.
It has four simple steps and works like this:
1. Withdraw all US combat troops from most of Afghanistan. Give the border regions next to Pakistan to the Taliban. They can grow their beards, abuse their women, cut people’s hands off, blow up Buddhas or each other to their fundamentalist heart’s content.
2. For those Afghanis who don’t want to follow the ways of the Taliban but would rather move into the 21st Century, establish three or four new cities in the country. These would begin as military bases and grow into real communities. The attendant construction and maintenance would provide jobs. These bases would house our specialized security forces and our helicopters and drones. They would also be training centers for the Afghan army. This would remove our troops from the countryside and they would no longer be targets for IED’s.
Secure a perimeter surrounding these towns twenty miles in all directions. No bombs or weapons go in or out. These would be violence-free zones.
These cities would be magnets for the population because, besides security, they would provide housing and utilities and other modern city services. I’m not talking about a refugee camp here, make it a comfortable and secure place to live. Build hospitals, schools, parks and markets. Also put multi-plex movie theaters, nightclubs, libraries and internet bars, hamburger joints, bowling alleys, Home Depot, Circuit City and Walmart. Shopping Malls and whorehouses. Show them the joys and vulgarities of modern Western life. Give every teenager a cell phone. We can build a gleaming city in the desert, just look what we did in Vegas.
This is much the way in which Alexander conquered most of the known world. After the military conquest he would build a city, a Greek city. While allowing the conquered peoples to maintain the bulk of their native culture, he also demonstrated the advantages of the Hellenistic way of life.
3. Buy the country’s entire opium crop. Pay the farmers more for it than the Taliban pays. This would hit the Taliban in the pocketbook. Their gun budget would get tight. There wouldn’t be as many madrassas turning out young fanatics who are willing to go to Allah for the glory of the cause.
What would we do with the opium? Who cares? Sell it on the legal medical market. Burn the rest of it. Store it in case of a bad crop. I don’t care, I’ll keep some of it in my basement. I’m ready to do my little part.
4. Make small business loans available to the Afghan people. This would help to establish a mercantile middle class and an educated and prosperous middle class is essential to modern democracy. Given the choice of living in a secure, modern city with healthcare and education or living in a bombed out village under the fundamentalist yoke of the Taliban, I’m sure that most Afhani’s could appreciate the advantages of our decadent Western ways.
If we launched Operation Xanadu and took these four simple steps, it would tip the social balance and in under a generation The Poet’s Eye would see a country transformed.
In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
a stately pleasure-dome decree,
where Alph, the sacred river, ran
through caverns measureless to man
down to a sunless sea,
so twice five miles of fertile ground
with walls and towers were girdled round.
and there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
where blossom’d many an incense-bearing tree.
And here were forests as ancient as the hills,
enfolding sunny spots of greenery.–Coleridge