May 2, 2011

The Helmund View

By JD Johannes Monday, 02 May 2011 -
The Marines and Brits stationed here barely shrug at the news about Bin Laden. His lividity is of little matter to the situation in Helmund province, Afghanistan.

Are they happy about the news? Sure. Satisfied justice was finally served? Yes.

But his death changes nothing here and will change very little, if anything on the ground throughout Afghanistan.

Al Qaida has long since become an organization with no need for a leader--even a symbolic one. In the canal country of the Helmund river, the opium poppies provide more revenue to fuel the Taliban and Al Qaida than Bin Laden's long since spent millions and fund raising. Opium sloshes billions of dollars around Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Emirates.

The Marines and Brits know this, which is why the news, while welcome and gratifying, is not celebrated with cheers.

In my own opinion, killing bin Laden does little more than provide a specious pre-text for a premature withdrawal of NATO/US forces from Afghanistan. I remember clearly when Zarqawi was killed in Iraq. The insurgency kept going for 3 more years. It is not a man we are fighting, it is an idea.

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