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Adam Curtis uncovers the secrets of Helmand

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Pint

Drug Barons

A German economist I met in Rio de Janeiro remarked to me that the mission of US troops present in South American drug exporting countries was officially "to control the drug trade".

Which is of course an awful lot different than "stopping the drug trade".

Beer - cause i'd rather enjoy the occasional tasty pint of real ale.

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Boffin

Too many policies making the Afghan war unwinnable.

Interestingly, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar was supposedly the contact supplied by the Pakistani ISI and used as the conduit for the first arms shipments and training supplied by the CIA (via the SIS) to the Mujahadeen in the '80s. Amongst other things, it's alledged that British and American "mercenaries" hired by the CIA were used to train Hekmatyar's men in Khandahar for war against the Soviets, and many of the survivors later past on their training to the Taleban. Hekmatyar was chosen because, whilst educated and modern-thinking enough to appreciate the need for modern miliary training, he was also very much in touch with the more traditional tribal ways and structure of the Afghan hills. In those days, the majority of the hillsmen not only hadn't seen a radio or TV, they didn't even know they existed!

That traditional way seems to have changed little over the last few centuries, regardless of what has been going on in the cities. Unfortunately, too many of our politicians think they can just fast-forward those hill tribes into the 21st century in some form of super-Ataturk program, junking not only tradition but also the Afghans' deep-felt Islamic beliefs in the process. Whilst it is UN policy to push such altruistic policies as female equality and education for girls they will always be in conflict with those traditions and beliefs. Our best bet would seem to be to make a peace, let them keep the hills as they are and concentrate on developing the towns, becasue the benefits of modern living will trickle outwards into the countryside over time. To try nation-building "for the greater good" is to ignore history and the original remit of the invasion - to stop Afghanistan being used as a base for attacks on the West.

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ESPecial Forces TV

I wonder if Mr Curtis would be tempted to chronicle an Alien Program which makes over IT?

AIdDummies Guide to Global Takeovers. ...... for the BroadBanded with Future History Channels and Semantic Web Connections. A Fly-on-the-Wall Server Message Blockbuster Series.

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FAIL

"The phrase 'hearts and minds' admits that people feel and think"

... but carries the underlying implication that their needs will be best served through changing they people think by imposing *our* views and attitudes upon them whether they want them or not.

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Pint

Drug Barons?

Always wondered what the British Army were doing in Belize.....

Drugs are the perfect commodity. Cheap to produce and repeat business consumers willing to pay a high price. The Barons could certainly show Big Business a thing or two when it comes to protecting trade secrets and managing global logistical supply chains.

I read that the Afghan herion industry in 2008 was valued at $194 billion.

Beer. With a global industry value of $405 billion. I know where I would invest if I was a greedy, ruthless, money making..... you get the picture. Quasi war on drugs! probably some money to be made there as well, if I could be bothered to look hard enough.

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FAIL

D'oh, the irony

The vids at the BBC are hidden behind geolocation filtering so I can't see them here in Aus. I guess that means they can't be seen in Afghanistan either.

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Silver badge

Freiheit macht Arbeit, Labours of Love

"The German state still thinks it has only one option to control money and that is deception, occasional police intimidation, horrible radio and TV programs and the like." .... By Frank Gerlach Posted Tuesday 20th October 2009 12:43 GMT

Frank,

The only viable option for controlling states is the control of money. Would the German states like to have a Go and Engineer NeuReal Great Games Machinery ...... Vorsprung durch AITechnICQ?

Or is the Eastern Bloc much more in Tune with the Bare Necessities which Produce Life?

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Anonymous Coward

@Frank Gerlach

Wow

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Delusional

The state and its people have utterly different values. 'Corrupt' government, in a sea and universe of corruption.

Its time to bring our young men and women home, and then the politicians can stop lying (they will be removed shortly anyway, good riddance to 12 years of the worst administration Britain has ever had)

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Pint

Memo to G. Brown, No 10 Downing St from Peter M

Gordon,

If the reports that the Drug trade in Afghanistan is worth $410B annually then a whizzo idea to get us out of this deep shit creek your policies have gotten us into is as follows:-

1) Bomb the hell out of the poppy fields in helmand. I'm sure the boffins at ****** (Censored) have some super weedkiller that attacks the popies.

2) Stop selling of that unused MOD land and trun it over to growing said popies now that

a) Afghanistan can't supply the worldwide need

b) Sell the home grown poppy crop on the black market after turning it into Heroin

3) The cash (under the table naturally) income would clear our debt in 1-2 years.

4) Once that is done, sell the idea to our friend the US Pres so that he can do the same

I think this is a sure fire way (probably the only way) that I (sorry we) can win the forthcoming election

Yours (with knife held behind my back)

Peter

(Peter M for PM. Seems to have a nice sound don't it.... Only joking)

Ok, its the end of the day and a pint of T.E.A awaits.

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Grenade

The real reason we are in Afghan:

Iran..

'nuff said.

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Smile

Wowser.

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FAIL

Re "Hearts and Minds"

I think that this is probably the most over used quote and the most misunderstood.

I think that you have to look at all of the 20th Century history to understand the psychology of the 50's and 60's where the US adopted a plan of nation building. This apparently is something the author of the program didn't do.

If you want to see it successfully done, look at the Marshall plan implemented in Japan ('45).

The real problem with Afghanistan is that when the UN troops ousted the Taliban, they went overboard and implemented their ideals of what the culture should be.

Had they kept to the basics I think things would have been different.

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FAIL

Nation Building? More like Nation Fucking

Why are the Americans so keen on nation building on the other side of the planet? Honestly.

My local hospital is older than their Country so why do they feel the need to export their particular brand of homegrown hypocrisy and bullshit to far flung corners of the globe? Places they often know absolutely fuck-all about. They have whole cities decaying and abandoned, monuments to where the American dream curled up and died, but think the world needs lessons on how to live from a 233 year-old nation whose citizens don't know where France is but who pride themselves on having fabulous teeth.

Afghanistan / Iraq / Iran isn't about terror. It's about bogeymen and the vested interests behind those put in place to fight them. Anyone remember just after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the coup in Moscow? No Red Army about to roll through Germany, no spectre of nuclear holocaust hanging over Europe and a whole generation of people all thinking "This is great, what shall we do now?" We couldn't have that, could we? Fuck no! No enemy to spy on? No money to be made building war machines? No one to be scared of? We couldn't possibly have a world where everyone just got on. Oh no. No money to be made you see.

As far as I'm concerned America should fuck off and fend for itself. By that I mean no more listening stations all over the globe, one-sided intelligence gathering arrangements, deals adhered to when it suits them and abandoned when it doesn't. No more 'coalitions of the willing' sending their young people off to fight for what, at best, can be described as questionable military objectives. Four of our top military people have now resigned because they're sick of seeing our soldiers giving their lives to gain a patch of land just so some redneck arsehole sitting in an air-conditioned trailer can give it back. If America wants peace on its' own terms it can have that peace but on one condition; it has to stay within its own borders.

There is no Secret to Helmand. Afghanistan is fucked because we fucked it. Iraq is fucked because we fucked it. We went to fight a war based on lies. We thought we could make an entirely different nation live like we live. They don't want to do that.

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Graveyard of Empiricism

It would be entirely appropriate if the Graveyard of Empires were to be the final Graveyard of Empiricism, a grotesque and entirely mistaken philosophy that reduces everything it touches, and whose latest triumphs include postmodernist science,and a postmodern politics so void of reality that its smoke and mirrors permanently a-maze its practitioners. Like shamen gazing into the fire. But with brains completely in neu(t)ral.

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Control the Word, Control the World and Worlds

"After all finance is only paper, weird computer networks, crappy crypto and confused people. A nasty business we leave to be headed by a swiss artillery officer." ..... By Frank Gerlach Posted Tuesday 20th October 2009 15:39 GMT

An officer well out of his depth, Frank, and in Dire Straits Need of InterNetional Rescue for the System is Catastrophically Holed and Sinking.

And everything was going so smoothly and sanely in "Smile" and then you appear to have hit a personal iceberg, in seas which are a pleasantly embracing and bracing for others....."Also, don't let yourself be controlled by women. They are often extremely egotistical and indeed interested only in the finances of a man. For which they have the fitting ideology (Darwinist bla bla). Better stay single than letting yourself be controlled by a finance mum. The intelligent ones are the most dangerous for a man.

I have yet to see the woman who stands to her man as the Russian women allegedly did in World War 2 and can handle a gun like a man. Probably a fairy tale." The world is full of good women whenever a good man..... and the intelligent ones are the most exciting ones for a man is a heavenly reward when on earth.

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Flame

"nation building on the other side of the planet? "

Do folk really really really still need to be told this?

Here's a couple of clues to help along the way to enlightment:

"US Silk Road Strategy Act"

"the dependence of the United States on energy from the volatile Persian Gulf region"

"the pressing need for diversification of energy resources"

Worked it out yet?

G

A

S

?

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Silver badge

"we"

@Will. 1. Pity the US State Department screwed up the borders of Iraq when dismembering the Ottoman Empire. Pity we so mishandled the partition of the subcontinent for that matter.

2. The "United Kingdom" is about three-quarters of a century newer than the USA, if we count from the union of 1707 to the US Constitution. Pointless and pedantic? Surely no more so than the age of the local hospital.

I do not say that the US has managed matters well overseas. But to be abused by the British for adventurism in the Middle East or the subcontinent is a bit much.

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mhj
WTF?

RE:Smile

Frank, You must be new here.

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FAIL

@ Luther Blisset

Would his be the same "postmodernist science" of smoke and mirrors that has allowed to post your comments on this website. Fair enough in the realm of human relations Empiricism is certainly left wanting, but, the ability to empirically deduce through trail an error how electrons can be used as a language is what has defined the computer age. The truth is the world has room for both the relativist extremes of Postmodernist thought and the use of trail an error to prove a rule. Even Derrida understood this.

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@disgruntled yank

"I do not say that the US has managed matters well overseas. But to be abused by the British for adventurism in the Middle East or the subcontinent is a bit much"

Good on you.

I think the west's involvement there is more to do with access to resources than an altruistic desire to bring democracy and to eradicate bogey men but Wills comments were a typical example of British yank bashing. If the truth be told, a typical attitude to any one not British.

I spent a year in Germany and got utterly peed off with Brits slagging off the place (whilst being surprised they got out of the Irish bar long enough to form an opinion. Or maybe they just couldn't be bothered to form an opinion at all and just spouted out 'opinions' that conformed with the hive mind.)

Your's a British person

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Seconds Rushing Along...

Afghanistan: is anybody expecting Turkey to step in? RSVP.

@ Frank Gerlach - a very sensitive question, but my grandma would invite you for a family tea if she could hear you. I'm sure that if Stalin could be Hitler in 1941, the Russians would say the same words about German women after Germany wins. But the past makes some extremely angstlich Menschen care for the future (-; Now my daughter can a little ride a horse, a little shoot and go kung-fu, a little dive, a little speak alien language... hmm, just for any case. A little, because she's nearly 5 presently... and the seconds are rushing along.

73

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@AC 21:34

> trial and error to prove a rule

I see several metaphors, at least one hyperbole, and an oxymoronic cliche in just these 7 words. Considering just the latter - proof is a process of inference; "trial and error" is a metaphor for establishing the facts. The rest of your post is conformant (even or especially the bit about electrons).

One should not confuse the message with the massage, for example postmodern science and its hyperreal fairy-tales, with real engineering - both snaffle treasure from the public, but only the latter gives something genuine back.

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Thumb Up

Electrons as a language?

@ anonymous:

"the ability to empirically deduce through trail an error how electrons can be used as a language is what has defined the computer age."

Maybe English isn't your first language. But since you want to play:

"the relativist extremes of Postmodernist thought"

I'll raise you a String Theory. Or a General Circulation Model - the latter giving you all the empirical "proof" of climate change a man can ever need.

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Silver badge
Happy

RE: Will 22

Chill, Will! Actually, Will, I think I can offer you an opportunity. You represent a new market segment - the angry, irrational, young tree-hugger. A group of friends and I are currenly making a mod of Half-Life just for this new market, where young "eco warriors" like you get the chance to redress the evils of modern life, scoring "green points" for eradicating those politicians, "neocons" and members of other global insitutions that you are convinced are the reason we just can't all get along, and you sound like the perfect, under-achieving, stressed-out repressive to do our testing. We're still struggling for a title for the game, we're not sure whether we should call it "Revenge of the Libtards" or something more snappy, like "Half-Wits".

As a hint, please go do some reading on history, you may find that the mess the World is in isn't all the fault of the big, bad colonials or the neocons. Then again, you're probably too blinkered anyway.

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Oversea viewers

To those in foreign climes who can't access the clips direct from the BBC, you might want to try the proxy servers given in the comments below the first instalment (Kabul: City Number One).

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why nation-build in Afghanistan?

Because it's cheaper than doing it directly in Iran. It's a shame we're leaving much of Africa to rot under the discarded AK shells of guerrillas, particularly the places where Islamic terrorists are recruiting and training. But Iran is the real enemy here and there is at least a bit of geographic space between Iran and Africa, unlike the mere border between Iran and Afghanistan. That's why the US tried to install a friendly regime in Iraq. Who's to say Iran wouldn't have invaded Iraq had Saddam become even weaker or when he died? One reason Saddam boasted about WMD and kept out the inspectors was because he wanted Iran to at least think he had them. There could also have been a civil war after Saddam died that the West might have had to clean up anyway. That may be speculation, but you pays your money and you takes your chances.

On the drugs trade: I still can't get why NATO/ISAF doesn't buy the opium to sell to pharmaceutical companies, or would people start chanting 'Death to Obama' and 'No blood for poppies'. Maybe it's all a conspiracy by the Australian poppy farmers.

My final point is that sometimes the US misses the point of how it came to be. The framers of the US constitution made it the way it was because of a certain kind of British misrule. The reason the 13 colonies were able to rise up and defeat the British was because the people were relatively well off and could afford it. They didn't rebel because they were poor but because they knew they could be better off if they ran their own affairs. Probably that was why Britain lost the US, but kept the rest of its empire - the rest weren't rich enough to rebel and win. Maybe that's why the Taliban/Al Qaeda keep going, the leaders are rich on heroin. That's not to say the Afghan people need to be put in deeper poverty to keep them from rebelling, but that the Afghan people need to be made rich and the jihadis need to be made poor. And someday I need to read Alexis de Tocqueville's Democracy in America.

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Stop

RE: Blissett & Anon

Well, "I see several metaphors, at least one hyperbole, and an oxymoronic cliche" < conformity, rules of language are all also completely relative.

real engineering is based on trial and error. so we're agreed then, furthermore, though we cannot actually prove why Quantum tunnelling etc happens, we can still measure the effects of it, even if we can't view the phenomena itself.

Finally, there is little evidence to fit the String Theory Model, hence there are no scientific laws and not experiments to prove it, we don't have the technology to measure that small yet. The circular climate model I would assume is the same, or that perhaps the outcomes of the research are not definitive on either side, hence the continued speculation.

Either way, your ability to do what your doing with your computers is based on a quantum world that we can't actually see or measure with much accuracy and yet here we are none the less, so I would say that theory even without solid proof can still work.

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Pint

@ confused anon:

"so I would say that theory even without solid proof can still work"

Indeed. My own General Theory of Ectoplasm is a good example.

You want to play some more?

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