The Importance of Property Rights

27 October, 2009

Afghanistan FlagThe New York Times discusses the diversity of revenue streams which support the Taliban in Afghanistan. In recent months, US forces have begun to express doubt over whether a policy to damage the opium trade will really hurt their finances.

Surprisingly, lessons can be learned from Peru’s experience fighting the drug trade and the ‘Shining Path’ guerilla movement in the early 1990s. In that case, the forces aligned against the government drew their power from an unlikely source.

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Sharing Amongst Enemies

30 August, 2009

Cherry PieIn his book Partitioning for Peace, Ivan Eland argues that division offers the best chance for peace in Iraq. He outlines lessons that can be learned from historical examples of partition.

However, he makes little of precisely how oil revenue is to be shared amongst the different peoples. Rather than divide the land and the oil by proxy, it would be much better to centrally process the oil and divide the revenue.

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The Lies Obama Tells Himself

30 August, 2009

Afghanistan FlagThe Economist takes stock of the current situation in Afghanistan. President Hamid Karzai continues to disgrace himself and damage his country, with widespread accusations of foul play in the recent presidential elections. It remains to be seen whether he is successfully re-elected.

In another article, President Barack Obama continues to claim that victory in this conflict (a concept devoid of meaning) is critical to keep America safe. This has been and always will be a lie.

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Towards a Nuclear Middle East

2 June, 2009

Within a matter of months, Iran could be in possession of nuclear weapons. The evidence for this was considered last week here. This is a state perfectly content to finance, train and arm with conventional weapons terrorist groups in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine. This is a state with political discourse dominated by nationalism.

These are the two major impacts from Iran’s decision: nuclear proliferation, and the possibility of terrorist organisations obtaining weapons of mass destruction. It is often easy to forget these consequences and simply focus on the prospect of the Ayatollah with his finger on the button, hoping that mutually assured destruction will save us.

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The Evidence Against Iran

24 May, 2009

Nuclear BlastDebate intensifies over Iran and their nuclear weapon program. President Obama has set a deadline for negotiation, but seems no closer to resolving the diplomatic gridlock that has perpetuated for so long.

The Iranian regime obstinately refuses to compromise their quest for nuclear energy, and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has the support of key political forces in this respect. He still denies that his state is seeking nuclear weapons. Should we believe him?

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Time is Running Out

22 May, 2009

The New York Times reports on President Obama’s recent meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel. The US has effectively announced the limits of their willingness to negotiate with Iran, and seeks negotiation by the end of the year.

As the Iranian election approaches, current policy with respect to the nation is clearly failing. The last US administration’s failure to engage with them on a sufficient timetable has left the incoming President with too few options. The situation is becoming grim.

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Afghanistan’s New Hope

20 May, 2009

Afghanistan FlagThe Economist reports on the introduction of the Afghan Public Protection Program (AP3). The US is hoping that what worked in Iraq can be applied to the very different problems in Afghanistan. They will be disappointed.

The problems in Afghanistan are rooted in a very different enemy, and the motivations of subscribing tribes to this new militia are decidedly different too. In addition, the support for these forces (although increasing in practical terms) is insufficient when compared to Iraq. The Taliban will not be defeated by passing the buck onto local militias.

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