Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Don't eradicate, regulate Afghan poppies

Anne Applebaum at Slate takes a look at the poppy problem in Afghanistan and sees the same solution as the Senlis Council and myself and many others have been promoting for a long time.
Why not add Afghanistan to this list? The only good arguments against doing so—as opposed to the silly, politically correct, "just say no" arguments—are technical: that the weak or nonexistent bureaucracy will be no better at licensing poppy fields than at destroying them, or that some of the raw material will still fall into the hands of the drug cartels. Yet some of these problems can be solved by building processing factories at the local level and working within local power structures. And even if the program only succeeds in stopping half the drug trade, then a huge chunk of Afghanistan's economy will still emerge from the gray market, the power of the drug barons will be reduced, and, most of all, Western money will have been visibly spent helping Afghan farmers survive instead of destroying their livelihoods.
I've addressed this often at my other blog, Last One Speaks. Afghanistan cannot afford to eliminate poppy production. Fully one third to one half of the country's GDP depends on it. The US enforced eradication programs are doing more harm than good and only serve to drive the poverty stricken peasants straight into the arms of the Taliban.

There's a worldwide shortage of morphine. Aghanistan could relive the shortage if they legalized the production. As Anne points out, it worked in Turkey and continues to work to this day with US support. It's the only sane answer to solving the current problem of black market funds going straight into the Taliban's pockets.
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2 Comments:

Anonymous romunov said...

Got any links to the morphine shortages?

I read that the Taliban destroyed the poppy fields and when the West marched in, the farmers went right back to poppy production.

4:52:00 AM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

Start with the Senlis link. THey may have the stats. I don't have time today -- I'm owrking -- to collect the links, but I do have them and would happy to share when I have a moment.

11:07:00 AM  

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