Posted by: Christian | November 13, 2009

Crazy Conspiracy Theories

There are so many in Afghanistan. My personal favorite is the one that involves trained tigers being dropped from American planes into villages to eat the people:

“We heard that foreigners are releasing them at night from planes to eat people. We heard that usually the tiger cats attack the throat and drink all the blood,” said Mohammed Saber, also from Saidkhail.

Air delivery? But wouldn’t the fall kill the cats?

“They fly really low,” said Koko Gul, 20, of nearby Monara village, holding his hands a foot from the ground, “and they just drop the cats onto the ground.”

Fazul Rahim, 28, of Said- khail, said he knew a man who caught a pisho palang in a net. It had some kind of foreign stamp on its rump, he claimed.

“And some American came and he wanted to buy it for $5,000, but my friend wouldn’t sell it,” Rahim said.

He refused $5,000 for a cat?

“Yes. He said, ‘Right now, they’re paying $5,000, but maybe later they’ll pay more,’ ” Rahim recounted.

Right. OK. These people are about as nutty as some of the people in my hometown. Every country has village idiots.

But how about the rumor that maintains that the US is directly funding and supporting the Taliban? And what crazy people to think this. Seriously? I mean just because the US has given hundreds of millions to a country that supported the Taliban from 1994-2001? And just because the US continued to give money to the country whose military continues to provide support to the Taliban? And just because the US pays the Taliban? Oh, yeah. About that. Um….those payments are, like, totally indirect and stuff. Silly Afghans and your conspiracy theories! Move along…move along…nothing to see here.

How much are they getting? This Guardian article finds a source who will offer a figure:

“It’s a big part of their income,” one of the top Afghan government security officials admits. In fact, US military officials in Kabul estimate that a minimum of 10% of the Pentagon’s logistics contracts – hundreds of millions of dollars – consists of payments to insurgents.

Of course, this is old news. Free Range Int’l has been talking about this. Afghans and expats talk about it. This has probably been going on for years.

So the conflict is profitable. To who? To foreign contractors. To corrupt Afghan officials. To Afghan businessmen. To warlords. To insurgents. To the Taliban.

But…will the insurgents kill the goose that lays golden eggs? What if it gets to the point that there is a perverse incentive for a large percentage insurgents to want a continued foreign presence? What do I think? I don’t even know anymore. Perhaps this may just be wishful thinking. The Taliban has, in the past, reigned in the crappiest of their commanders or purged them. I think the leadership can, when the time comes, revert back to a formidable organization with a sufficient degree of control over their field commanders, even the ones that are corrupt and criminal in their motivations.

Let the conspiracy theories begin continue. In fact, I think I see a tiger right now.


  1. The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 11/13/2009 News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front.


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