Saturday, June 27, 2009

A welcome change in drug policy

Amazing. Could it be the big brass finally started listening to the policy reformers?

The U.S. envoy for Afghanistan, Richard Holbrooke, told The Associated Press that eradication programs weren't working...

"Eradication is a waste of money," Holbrooke said... [...]

"The farmers are not our enemy, they're just growing a crop to make a living," he said. "It's the drug system. So the U.S. policy was driving people into the hands of the Taliban."

"We're essentially phasing out our support for crop eradication and using the money to work on interdiction, rule of law, alternate crops," he told the AP. At the same time, Washington is upgrading its support of agriculture programs.
I still have a lot of other problems with our Af/Pak policies but at least on this issue, it looks like they finally got it right. Hell, I could have written that statement. Come to think of it, I did -- too many times to count.

[More posts daily at The Detroit News]

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Blogger Jayhawk said...

Hate to pop anyone's bubble, but the reason we are doing poppy eradication now is that we already tried alternative crops and it didn't work. The farms are small, soil is poor, water is scarce, growing season is short, and transportation is difficult, so farmers cannot thrive growing food crops. We switch them to wheat and, as soon as we leave the area, they rip the wheat out and replant poppies that will provide enough income for them to live on.

What this "new policy" illustrates is that we don't even learn from our own mistakes. These guys go in there like the lords of creation with all of the answers, not asking even the simple questions like, "what have we tried so far?"

10:00:00 AM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

Hey jayhawk. I'm aware of the problems with developing alternative agriculture. It's also why such efforts have failed in the coca growing regions of South America. But one thing is clear. Eradication isn't the answer, so that at least is a step forward.

Personally, I still think they should let them grow poppies and just buy them for the legal morphine market. Or they could legalize marijuana and they could supply that market. That's another crop that does well there. I suppose they could even make money in the industrial hemp market.

In any event, I believe it was in Thailand that they did find legal crops with a good return and ended up with a successful alternative agricultural program. It can be done.

11:25:00 AM  

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