[ExI] riots again

Keith Henson hkeithhenson at gmail.com
Sat Oct 6 18:55:55 UTC 2012

On Sat, Oct 6, 2012 at 5:00 AM,  Tomaz Kristan <protokol2020 at gmail.com> wrote:
> So you don't agree with this Charlie Stross' quote:
>> It's as if *nobody at all* had studied the history of previous military
> interventions in Afghanistan. By which I'm not just talking about the
> Soviets; it's like nobody had heard of the Anglo-Afghan Wars, much less the
> grisly fate of General Elphinstone's Expedition during the 1842 Retreat
> from Kabul -- the worst defeat ever inflicted on the British Empire.
>> It's just an all-around Bad Place to Go. Always has been. Even Alexander
> the Great had second thoughts about trying to occupy Afghanistan.
> You do, or you don't?

You failed to make explicit who you were responding to, but I will
take it on myself to respond.

What is there to disagree about?

It is, however, worth considering just why Afghanistan is such a
miserable place.

"Afghanistan’s Sky-high Birthrate Seems to be Declining—and That’s a
Very Good Thing

"Picture Afghanistan two decades from now. Difficult? Not really-if
you're a demographer. The two agencies that independently publish
population estimates- the UN Population Division and the US Census
Bureau's International Programs Center -- routinely project an array
of demographic statistics for the world's nearly 200 countries on a
timeframe of decades. Until now, the U.S. and U.N. agencies closely
matched one another's projections for an Afghanistan-to-be. Not
anymore. The UN believes Afghanistan's population (around 28 million
today) will pass the 50 million mark by 2030, whereas the Census
Bureau foresees a 2030 population under 43 million. If the Census
Bureau's prognostications are right -- if Afghanistan experiences a
sharp decline in family size and slower subsequent growth -- this
change would represent a milestone in Afghanistan's development. But
if Afghan population growth remains at a high level, auguring a
continued surfeit of young job seekers, their disaffection and armed
violence, the breakdown of schooling and health services, and the
perpetuation of high fertility, it bodes very poorly indeed.

"Unbeknownst to much of the foreign-policy community, the population
of this impoverished Texas-sized pseudo-state is among the world's
fastest growing. In 1950, there were barely 8 million Afghans, a
population about the same size as New York City today. Since then, the
population has nearly quadrupled, despite horrendous rates of
childhood death and three decades of warfare. This trend, should its
pace continue, guarantees a lengthy perpetuation of Afghanistan's
extraordinary "youth bulge" (a youthful age distribution; see the
accompanying figure).  Today over half of the country's adults are
15-to-29 year olds, compared with only 26 percent in the United
States. So much competition in an opportunity-sparse society is bad
news for young men seeking employment or land ownership -- and good
news for Taliban recruiters.


"It is little wonder then that, according to the US Census Bureau's
International Program Center, on average, Afghan women can expect to
bear 5.6 children in their lifetime -- a rate that appears to have
dropped from pre-invasion levels, which ranged between 7 and 8
children per woman.  [5.64 children born/woman (2012 est--CIA]"



Afghanistan has been densely populated for its resource base (water,
farmland, etc.) for centuries.  The high birth rate was countered by
very high rates of childhood death and high rates of being killed in
tribal wars.  Making the transition to a stable society is not going
to be easy, at least not at the current level of technology.  The
problem is that the high birth rate leads to social conditions that
keep the birth rate high.  Either a high rate of improving income or a
big drop in the population would improve the odds.

The Black Death of the 1348 is thought (by some) to have had the
effect of raising the income per capita in Europe.

"It is widely known that the former Soviet Union maintained a
stockpile of 20 tons of smallpox virus in its biological weapons
arsenal throughout the 1970s, and that, by 1990, they had a plant
capable of producing 80–100 tons of smallpox per year [13]. "


On the other hand, "Alibek's stories about the former Soviet program's
smallpox activities have never been independently verified."


The fiction I am reluctant to finish has a Russian leader discussing
releasing smallpox with the US President after a combination of a US
mind control cult and a mess of middle east terrorist has fired three
nuclear weapons in the US.


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