One has to ask oneself in these days of withdrawal from the Afghan war: was it worth it? The answer is yes if he has promoted stability, reduced terrorism and added economic development to the world, which he has attempted to do. The answer is no if the strategy was not suited to the circumstances on the ground. In which case the attempt was doomed to failure.
When I was teaching economics in Kazakhstan in the former Soviet Union and just after the fall of the Soviet Union, and subsequently during a visit three years ago to see the changes after 20 years, this what is clear is that a country like Afghanistan or Kazakhstan needs some semblance of industry to make political change possible. But while Kazakhstan could support a new political system with mining, oil and even manufacturing, a very mountainous Afghanistan with no easy connection to the rest of the world due to its landlocked position and the low amount of rail links. and Roads has much less of a chance of developing an industry that can support its government. Although, to be sure, Kazakhstan is not perfect, it still achieved much more stability, equality and opportunities for political discussion than Afghanistan, and with Kazakhstan it happened with only one army. volunteers rather than an army of military soldiers.
This meant that no matter how well the United States and its allies could stabilize Afghanistan, there was no easy way for the Afghan government to get funding from new industries to keep itself going. So the only funding the Afghan government ever got was funding to create more stability and follow Western dictates of how a country should look and act, which isn’t really a lucrative business. On the flip side, the Taliban could support their operations, at least according to some economic analysis, with illicit drug money from poppy seeds that grow easily in the hills. Other crops for economic development bring in much less money or grow much less vigorously in the hills. So really it wasn’t a war of ideology as much as it was a war of economic attrition.
What economic support have the Afghans been able to try to put in place? It is not a high tech industry because unlike India there is simply not a critical level of high tech personnel to support such a business and therefore every time you educate a new technician in Afghanistan, he would easily leave for Europe, America or Australia to make money rather than stay in such a difficult place as Afghanistan. In India, tech people stick around for the culture, the relatively low cost of living, and the ability to get funding for their own startups.
So what about mining? There may be potential for mining in Afghanistan, but not quite Alaska’s lucrative gold, copper, or coal deposits, but deposits of a much less lucrative and more difficult level for the industry. ‘environment. For example, Afghanistan can have rare earth metals or even lithium, so while the extraction of these minerals looks wonderful, the challenges of extracting these minerals are never directly explained by advocates. green economy. Indeed, one of the reasons China is such a big producer of rare earth minerals is because it doesn’t care about environmental disruption and low-wage, labor-intensive nature. of production that occurs far from the Chinese middle classes and in rural areas. , poor hinterland of the country.
Nonetheless, without good prospects for economic development for Afghanistan, stabilizing the country was always going to be a difficult task. The last minute chaos with the suicide bombers could have happened at any time; it is not really a problem to know how and when to leave. It’s just good to realize that there was no way to overcome the source of illicit funding the Taliban had over the lack of industry provided the funding the Afghan government was able to develop and leave as well. efficiently as possible and at as low a cost of living as possible.
Yet if you want to blame someone, you could scapegoat generals, diplomats, or politicians, or maybe it’s the fault of the universities themselves, which these days focus on issues. subjects as interesting as leadership skills and tend not to challenge students in understanding economic concepts and critical thinking skills in an effort to improve student optimism. The real world requires real thinking.
Doug Reynolds has a doctorate. in economics and lived and worked in Fairbanks and studied the oil and gas industry of Alaska and the world for over 25 years. He can be contacted at [email protected]