It used to be that this kind of conversation wasn’t allowed…
John Pike, founder of the military monitoring group GlobalSecurity.org in Washington, said the Afghan opium issue is “the stinking 800-pound gorilla in the room that no one wants to talk about.”
Pike agreed that with 70 percent of the Afghan population tied to agriculture, simply eradicating a crop that has been produced for centuries and is steeped in tradition isn’t the answer.
Instead, he said in all seriousness, the West should simply buy it, convert it to medicinal morphine rather than illicit heroin, and give it away.
“This is business,” he said. “Everything you thought you knew about counter-insurgency and winning hearts and minds is irrelevant if you take away people’s livelihood.
“The only solution I see is, we ought to outbid the drug lords and do our own refining, and then donate it as medicine to Third World countries.”
That should be a strategy given serious consideration as the Marine Corps and the Obama administration make plans to send thousands more troops to Afghanistan, Pike said.
“We are preparing to pour a pretty good-sized amount of new blood and treasure into Afghanistan with no other describable theory of victory today apart from sending more troops,” he said. “Before we get too far down that road, if outbidding the drug kings is a wrong-headed idea, I would like to see someone prove that to me.”
Of course, the Senlis solution won’t dry up the opium supplies — there’s enough stockpiled to last quite some time, and more will be produced for the black market somewhere as long as it’s illegal.
But if even a large portion of the farmers in Afghanistan are happy selling it to us, then the Taliban have a much harder time being popular as “protectors” from us. There will be less money available to fight us, and less available to corrupt the Afghanistan government.
And that’s being smart.