Afghans are known for changing sides back and forth during their long years of war — there is an old saying that “you can rent an Afghan but never buy one” — and battles have often been decided by defections rather than combat.
Paying Taliban foot-soldiers to switch sides could spare US lives and save money, say its advocates. A recent report by the Senate foreign relations committee estimated the Taliban fighting strength at 15,000, of whom only 5% are committed idealogues while 70% fight for money — the so-called $10-a-day Taliban. Doubling this to win them over would cost just $300,000 a day, compared with the $165m a day the United States is spending fighting the war.
Now I did have a minor moral qualm with this. My bourgeois upbringing has an instinctive revulsion about the idea of bribing people. But then I thought about it a bit longer: which collective or individual sponsor of terrorism is going to want to match the US/UK investment in fighting the taliban? We currently spend $165M a day on fighting the Taliban. We could, if we double their current earnings, spend $300K a day on this. In other words, we could fight a year of the Afghan war for a lot less than we spend there per day. So, let's say Islamofascists double up again and we have to double up again. So now we're fighting a year's worth of war for 3 days' worth of current spend. So they double up again and we double up again. We're now fighting a year's worth of war for about 10 days' current spend.
And at this point, if my rudimentary maths is up to it, the $10-a-day Taliban will be earning $320 per day, which isn't a bad fucking deal for a westerner. For an Afghan, that's pretty much millionaire status. They will, collectively, say "fuck you" to the Taliban and start collecting Mercs.
And we can go on doubling and redoubling a fucking lot before it starts to cost us anything like the current costs. Al-Qaeda and their supporters will either go bankrupt or say "fuck it, there's got to be a cheaper way of doing this" and throw in the towel.
And if you combined that with buying the Afghan poppy crop for medical purposes, the Taliban would be pushed out to an irrelevant fringe while everyone else in Afghanistan decided to get rich instead.
The only people who lose out are the neo-con militarists, and frankly, they can go fuck themselves. They've had their fun.