Murphy's Law: November 21, 2002

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As we reported last year, the fighting in Afghanistan was propelled more by cash than by bombs and bullets. It turns out that the CIA handed out over $70 million in cash. The first money ($3 million in hundred dollar bills) arrived in Afghanistan on September 27th, 2001, along with a ten man CIA team. The team made contact with the Northern Alliance forces and, once the three million dollars was given out, quickly brought in another $10 million. Cash, especially American currency, is king in Afghanistan. Just across the border in Pakistan, traders have just about anything you want, for a price. The Pakistani port of Karachi regularly lands new SUVs, electronics, building materials, packaged food and beverages. If you have the cash, this stuff can be trucked into Afghanistan. That kind of money also buys you weapons, which are more likely to come from the north, in Tajikistan. There, Russian arms traders will sell you tanks, artillery, helicopter gunships, whatever. Bring cash, take weapons. Most of the $70 million ended up in the back accounts of the Pakistani, Russian and Tajik traders. Many Afghan warlords took a cut of the cash before they spent it on stuff for their troops. Warlords who were on the fence could be persuaded to join the American cause for less than $100,000. Even some pro-Taliban units switched sides once they were shown the money. It was mostly the Northern Alliance Afghans who got the goodies. And the Taliban got the boot.

 


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