Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Leaked NATO document: ISAF mission success depends on Poppy for Peace

What are the aims and objectives of the NATO mission in Afghanistan? Wikileaks has cracked the code of a NATO document on the web, and they can be downloaded here, but be quick in case the page is hacked.

Pasted below are a selection of paragraphs from NATOs 2008 mission document in Afghanistan - ISAF Afghanistan Theatre Strategic Communications Strategy, 25 Oct 2008.
I have added bold font to the parts relevant to the strategy of resolving the situation by purchasing the poppy crop and turning it into much needed medical painkillers.

ISAF: International Security Assistance Force (UN program)
GIRoA: Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
ANSF: Afghanistan National Security Forces
ANDS: Afghan National Development Strategy

Excerpt begins
2. Winning in Afghanistan is building Afghan capacity, competence and credibility to an end state of adequate security, stability and popular support for GIRoA. ISAF is committed to a comprehensive approach to winning through improving security, supporting the extension of Afghan governance, and supporting the social and economic development of Afghanistan.

3. Winning will not be achieved by defeating the enemies of Afghanistan in battle alone. Victory in the information war is as, and possibly more, important. ...

4. Afghan public support and confidence in government institutions is critical to a viable Afghan nation-state.... denial of support and freedom of action to our opponents are critical to undermining those who threaten Afghanistan’s stability.

7. Objectives. The objectives of ISAF StratCom are to:
  • Build and strengthen public confidence in Afghan institutions.
  • Maintain Afghan public support for ISAF.
  • Improve commitment and responsiveness of GIRoA to Afghan public.
  • Maintain and strengthen public support of contributing nations’ domestic audiences for the mission.
  • Undermine support for the insurgency (and other threats to stability).
  • Encourage acceptance and cooperation across the Afghan neighbourhood for the mission.


Effect 1 Insurgency Defeated
Effect 2 ANSF Provides a Secure Environment
Effect 3 ISAF Maintains Public Acceptance
Effect 4 Narcotics-Insurgency Nexus is Broken...
Effect 5 GIRoA Establishes and Upholds the Rule of Law
Effect 6 GIRoA Combats Government Corruption

excerpt ends

So there we have it. The aim is to:
Support the social and economic development of Afghanistan, winning will not be achieved by defeating the enemies of Afghanistan in battle alone, Afghan public support and confidence in government institutions is critical to a viable Afghan nation-state. NATO needs to deny support and freedom of action to its opponents, it needs to maintain Afghan public support for ISAF, to undermine support for the insurgency, encourage acceptance and cooperation across the Afghan neighbourhood for the mission.

And most importantly, NATO needs to see that the "Narcotics-Insurgency Nexus" is broken, and see to it that GIRoA Establishes and Upholds the Rule of Law and combats Government Corruption.

It is very clear indeed that the single most important means of achieving this objective is to legitimise the poppy crop, which has a value equivalent to 40% of the total Afghan economy. It is crystal clear that these objectives will not be achieved while the poppy remains in the hands of the Taleban.

More detail on the proposal is given elsewhere in this blog. Click on the labels for "opium" and "Afghanistan".

Lord Malloch Brown, the FCO minister, is defending the policy of keeping the poppy illicit. The arguments are the weakest I have ever met. The core objection is that the Afghan Governement is not competent to administer the scheme. But if it wished to do so, the scheme could be set up with UN and NATO help, and once set up, the GIRoA would then actually become competent, and the NATO objectives would be achievable.

Lord Clive Soley is also defending the policy on the web.

Note that there is evidence that Hamid Karzai's brother is involved in the drugs trade. Could it be that the stink of corruption is reaching right up into the rarefied air of international policy?

The Green Party is opposed to NATO membership, so it is ironic that we are proposing a policy that will help NATO to succeed, but ultimately all our policies are aimed peace, humanitarianism, international security and sound economics, so it is right and good that we should press for the Poppy crop to be legitimised and turned to good use.

Please write to your MP, or at least contribute (civilly) to the discussion with Clive Soley.


It is still not clear what mandate British troops will have to deal with interdicting drugs convoys, making arrests or getting involved with eradication of the poppy crop on the ground.

However there is no point in the British having a mandate in dealing with the drugs trade, if other Nato troops refuse to do the same job.

Even the Americans, who have been pushing Britain to get involved in dealing with drugs, do not allow their troops to get involved in either interdiction or eradication.

PPS: In public, NATO is demanding that all allies contribute their fair share to the ongoing effort in Afghanistan. But behind closed doors, a paper has been circulated that may provide the beginnings of an exit strategy. Germany is pushing the plan.

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