Barnett Rubin, a top expert on Afghanistan, has a post up pointing out that one of the biggest problems in Afghanistan over the past year has been soaring food prices. People literally can't pay for bread:
I had heard quite a bit about this bread. Someone told me that food prices had gone up 70 percent. After General Musharraf declared a state of Emergency during my visit in November, notes from Pakistani friends often spoke of a growing shortage of "atta" (whole wheat flour). On my flight to Delhi from Kabul I sat with a senior official of the Indian Customs Service who was advising the Afghan Customs Department. He told me that Afghanistan was importing only ten percent the amount of wheat that it had last year....
And of course, when you can't put food on the table, that might make you less sympathetic to your government and more sympathetic to insurgents, say the Taliban. Barnett again:
At several meetings I have heard former Minister of Finance of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani say that the most common definition of a "Talib" in southern Afghanistan is "an unemployed youth." Some Kandahari fruit traders I interviewed said that nearly all the fighting in Afghanistan was due to unemployment. Statistically, youth employment is one of the most robust correlates of civil violence.
Wondering what accounts for the price increase, Barnett came across this article in the WSJ:
The little known Minneapolis Grain Exchange is suddenly one of the hottest spots in the global financial markets....Minneapolis has become ground zero for the global wheat shortage, which has been caused by drought in Australia and poor weather in other grain-producing countries. Global stocks are projected to reach 30-year lows this year, while U.S. stocks will reach 60-year lows.
The rise in agricultural prices, combined with high oil prices .. have contributed to higher food inflation in the U.S. and around the world....
To cope with high prices, countries have been rationing supplies by leveling tariffs or taxes on grain exports. [Kazakhstan and Syria have taxed or canceled exports, while Jordan and Egypt are short of food.] Pakistan recently stopped exporting some of its wheat flour to Afghanistan.
It's obviously way speculative to assert that global warming is contributing to the Taliban insurgency. But it's also perfectly plausible. There's a reason the Pentagon has started studying the national security threat posed by global warming.