An error in thinking here

Afghanistan’s new Taliban rulers are likely to face a rapidly developing financial crisis, with foreign currency reserves largely unreachable and western aid donors – who fund the country’s institutions by about 75% – already cutting off or threatening to cut payments.

While the hardline Islamist group has moved in recent years to become more independent of outside financial supporters including Iran, Pakistan and wealthy donors in the Gulf, its financial flows – amounting to $1.6bn (£1.2bn) last year – are far short of what it will require to govern.

That is to assume that they’re even going to try and govern as the previous government did.

Paying for the schools, and poverty alleviation, and roads and all that. What they might well do – I have no particular insight here, no local knowledge – is just revert to that more Islamic/medieval system of governance that requires none of that central cash. The roads can go to pot, the schools and charity alleviation are local and through the mosques and what money does central government need anyway?

24 thoughts on “An error in thinking here”

  1. It’s a shame the Afghan Peter Tatchell isn’t still in his own country, the debates between him and the new regime would be epic:

    I started talking about institutionalized misogyny and pedophilia and gradually expanded the conversation to include homophobia and transphobia.

    I then used creative writing to push my political agenda. I posted risqué stories like the one about two engaged Afghan men on the verge of a breakup due to one partner’s hemorrhoids ruining their sex life. I also shared a diary about my homoerotic ordeal at Kabul international airport, when I snuck alcohol into the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan on the Mujahedeen holiday.

    To complement my rhetoric, I uploaded photos of me cross-dressed as a transgender from the “Gilgamesh Rising” play I performed at Oxford, England last May.

    […]

    I escalated the situation by posting a barrage of sexually explicit poetry during the month of Ramadan. But the real game changer happened on August 22nd with my pioneering coming out on Facebook and soon news about the proud gay Afghan man, who desires a husband, went viral and traveled the world.

    Since Afghanistan received a gay makeover, the collective memory of a blighted nation has been transformed.

    All the taboos have been crushed and Afghans now have an open space to engage in dialogue about controversial topics.

  2. Dunno what the current opium crop is like but it will be a lot bigger next year. Plenty of dollars inflowing for that and a source of tax revenue.

  3. From Lara Logan who spent a long time reporting from Kabul:
    Based on current political alignment, alliances, and the ideology behind who is in charge of specific U.S. government agencies, it can reasonably be assumed someone (insert Obama here) wants Pakistan and Iran to have advanced military technology via the stolen weapons we leave behind in Afghanistan. Why? Because those same people already made money selling advanced military tech to Iran, and this ‘crisis’ provides cover when it shows up later in their arsenal.

    https://theconservativetreehouse.com/blog/2021/08/18/lara-logan-carries-a-big-trumpet-about-afghanistan-if-the-u-s-government-wanted-it-to-be-different-it-would-be/

  4. The main things governments need is the means to keep the population in control.
    In the west that is mainly achieved by keeping the population happy (roads, schools etc) with a bit of law and order and surveillance.

    For the Taliban that is primarily going to be about running their version of ‘law and order’. Most likely I imagine the current unity within the Taliban is going to crumble now they are in control and split into tribal factions each with their own set of fighters. The current Taliban leaders have been playing a very good PR game, coming across as a bit less hardline, taking over Kabul with minimum violence and claiming they won’t seek revenge. I imagine there are going to be other more extreme voices within the Taliban who aren’t happy with that and it will fracture with power struggles.

  5. “Paying for the schools, and poverty alleviation, and roads and all that. What they might well do – I have no particular insight here, no local knowledge – is just revert to that more Islamic/medieval system of governance that requires none of that central cash. The roads can go to pot, the schools and charity alleviation are local and through the mosques and what money does central government need anyway?”

    And maybe let’s hope they actually use money better.

    I’ve stopped giving any sort of foreign aid unless it comes with statistics. Because I’ve realised that the whole aid thing is full of corruption, bureaucracy and well-meaning waste.

    Building roads and railways in a country like Afghanistan is not a big cost. Roads don’t cost hundreds of millions. They cost hundreds of millions because of all the gargantuan western bullshit around it: making corridors for ducks, doing archaeological digs, preserving bits of history, environmental and health and safety assessments. And the thing of working around existing roads. When you get down to the guys laying the road, it’s a tiny crew with a £1m machine who can lay road at something like 2km per day.

    China will probably do more good as they aren’t at the Clownworld stage yet.

  6. I’ve just watched an Unherd interview with the CNN correspondent in Kabul. But what was I watching? A report of what’s happening in Kabul? Or what CNN wants to tell us what’s happening in Kabul? With years of the MSM fitting facts to the narrative, how are you supposed to have an opinion about what you’re told? Steve’s screed seems equally likely.

  7. Spud has opined on Afghanistan

    “the creation of a functioning currency, and so a tax system, is a priority.”

  8. Royalties from that Chinese owned copper mine that has been in suspense for years because of the security situation (taliban) might be a tidy sum.
    Given that the taliban don’t control all the country and probably never will, and that they are probably nearly as corrupt as the outgoing administration, I don’t think they’ll do much of what central government does.

    I also think this Great Game stuff is a bit of fluff. Strategic importance? Look at a map.

  9. If the yanks couldn’t eradicate polio in twenty years I doubt that the taliban will deliver even basic medical services. So we’ll have to be on our guard when it comes to all those refugees.

  10. “I also think this Great Game stuff is a bit of fluff. Strategic importance? Look at a map.”

    A lot of 60’s hippies did. Afghanistan’s on the overland route from Europe to India. What all those Afghan wars were about.

  11. I would think the Chinese would provide some form of infrastructure in roads, power plants, etc, if they can get their hands on what has been described as the world’s largest deposits of lithium. In 10 years time, if anyone in the west wants to buy an electric car, it will probably have to be something like the Lotus Blossom GTI, complete with air fresheners made in Wuhan.

  12. I’m sure China will chuck them a few quid but I am also sure that the population will not notice the missing aid money, because that was almost all nicked by the various warlords the US and international aid providers were shoring up.

    On the bright side, the Taliban take a strict view of Islam and so will stamp out the repellent Afghan practice of paedophilia against boys. US and British soldiers have been instructed for 20 years to turn a blind eye to widespread child rape and sexual slavery.

    Every cloud….

  13. Afghanistan’s on the overland route from Europe to India. What all those Afghan wars were about.

    The 19th century Afghan wars were about protecting India’s vulnerable flank from Russian attack. Not our problem any more (and I doubt Putin’s particularly interested, except as a way of rubbing US noses in it).

  14. Chris. You’re talking about the same thing. Why do you think the Tsar was interested in a load of mountains producing little of interest? The lapis lazuli mines?

  15. The terrain of Afghanistan means it is no longer on any route. Back when people walked it didn’t make much difference. It will turn into a marco-state, like Laos, outside the few cities.

    And the Chinese won’t be investing in it, any more than they invest in other failed states. You need your investments to be safe.

    Afghanistan helped bring down the USSR. It’s helped bankrupt the USA. It will ruin the PRC too, if they’re stupid enough to let it.

  16. I think you’re right Chester. But since Afghanistan is one of China’s neighbours, I’d argue that they would like to have reasonably civil relations with it. Basically each party doesn’t act as a base for rebels and terrorists to attack the other. Which the Taliban have more or less promised.

    Of course whether they’ll keep their promises is another thing.

  17. And the NGO’s aren’t going to cut off the money tap – they’re getting their own beaks wet in the stream as well.

    Expect to see it justified as ‘engagement’ and ‘you can’t get them to change if you don’t talk to them’ and ‘we use the money as leverage for change’.

  18. I agree with you too Agammamon. No doubt this is what the Taliban have in mind when they talk about maintaining relations with the international community.

    One imagines that this is also the reason they’ve so far placed no obstacles in the way of all the reffos and the diplomats fleeing. After all they’ve had 20 years of war because they simply provided a home for a perfectly normal murderer. The Yanks and others have had no problem in flying in far more soldiers than they’ve had there for years in order to help the mob flee. They can see the ratbags in the media all claiming that no, we shouldn’t have left.

    Common sense suggests they should be happy to Assad-ise all the trash. The only reason I have to doubt this is that this is the common sense of an idle old bastard lolling in front of a computer screen. And they are, as I’ve said, mad Mahometan murderers.

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