If you fight the poor, you become poor, Zenpundit noted:
Grinding poverty itself is a tax upon the invading force. There are no resources for your army to commandeer or buy, no skilled manpower to requisition or hire, no infrastructure for them to use. All of that must be imported and built at great expense by the invader whose troops are accustomed to far less spartan environs. The local population is usually malnourished, illiterate, ignorant, suspicious of outsiders and rife with disease; their living habits and water sources unsanitary and endanger the troops. Caring for the locals, even minimal administration of humanitarian aid, becomes a bureaucratic and logistical burden consuming time and diverting resources away from urgent military needs.
The United States under George Bush the Elder, entered into Somalia, a land beset by violent anarchy and it’s people in the grip of a terrible famine and was driven out shortly thereafter under Bill Clinton. The last scenes there being the emaciated Somali followers of a two-bit warlord, Mohammed Farah Aidid, gleefully swarming over and looting our military’s former… garbage dump.
When the enemy has a land so poor that he treasures and makes use of the crap you throw away, the economic spillover of your logistical supply lines will fund his war against you. Used to surviving on bare subsistence, the invader’s presence becomes an economic bonanza for resistance and collaborator alike. Sort of a highly kinetic form of military Keynesianism. The war itself and the occupation become an irreplaceable cornerstone of their economy. They hate you being there, but can’t afford to defeat you and drive you out either — making a “quagmire” irregular conflict their ideal economic equilibrium to maintain.
Now Kabul vendors of stolen U.S. goods are fretting about a future without our scraps:
If a case of soap is pilfered from a U.S. military base here or pinched from a NATO shipping container, it will probably, sooner or later, end up for sale in the Bush Market, a sort of thieves’ outlet mall in central Kabul.
Named after George W. Bush, the U.S. president who launched the war in Afghanistan, the bazaar has flourished for more than eight years, thanks to the long presence of foreign troops that provided war booty aplenty. But in the Obama era, with its steady withdrawal of U.S. forces, the good times are ending in the sprawling hive of vendors who hawk mountains of Pop-tarts and enough Head & Shoulders shampoo to combat the dandruff of untold army divisions.
Several vendors said sales have already fallen by 50 percent since last year as the “surge” troops that began arriving in 2009 have departed. The amount of military goods available to be pilfered has dropped, they said, and prices have gone up. Also, fewer foreign development workers come to shop for familiar Western brands.
(Hat tips to Tyler Cowen and our Slovenian Guest.)