Finally. An excellent article in a major paper clearly laying out the answer to Afghanistan that we’ve been talking about for ages.
Anne Applebaum — Ending an Opium War: Poppies and Afghan Recovery Can Both Bloom
Yet by far the most depressing aspect of the Afghan poppy crisis is that it exists at all — because it doesn’t have to. To see what I mean, look at the history of Turkey, where once upon a time the drug trade also threatened the country’s political and economic stability. Just like Afghanistan, Turkey had a long tradition of poppy cultivation. Just like Afghanistan, Turkey worried that poppy eradication could “bring down the government.” Just like Afghanistan, Turkey — this was the era of “Midnight Express”– was identified as the main source of the heroin sold in the West. Just like in Afghanistan, a ban was tried, and it failed.
As a result, in 1974 the Turks, with American and U.N. support, tried a different tactic. They began licensing poppy cultivation for the purpose of producing morphine, codeine and other legal opiates. Legal factories were built to replace the illegal ones. Farmers registered to grow poppies, and they paid taxes. You wouldn’t necessarily know this from the latest White House drug strategy report– which devotes several pages to Afghanistan but doesn’t mention Turkey — but the U.S. government still supports the Turkish program, even requiring U.S. drug companies to purchase 80 percent of what the legal documents euphemistically refer to as “narcotic raw materials” from the two traditional producers, Turkey and India.
Why not add Afghanistan to this list? […]
The director of the Senlis Council, a group that studies the drug problem in Afghanistan, told me he reckons that the best way to “ensure more Western soldiers get killed” is to expand poppy eradication.
An excellent article — do you think any policy leaders will actually read it? The article does a good job of laying out the issues, and also shows that regardless of the difficulties and potential limitations in implementing the Senlis Council’s recommendations, the result would still be positive for us — certainly more positive than the direction we’re headed right now.