Technology with attitude

Meanwhile, In The World Of Heroin…

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Afghanistan’s opium poppy crop is the largest on record. Junkies breath a collective sigh of relief.

From Wash Post:

Opium production in Afghanistan, which provides more than 90 percent of the world’s heroin, broke all records in 2006, reaching a historic high despite ongoing U.S.-sponsored eradication efforts, the Bush administration reported yesterday.

In addition to a 26 percent production increase over past year — for a total of 5,644 metric tons — the amount of land under cultivation in opium poppies grew by 61 percent. Cultivation in the two main production provinces, Helmand in the southwest and Oruzgan in central Afghanistan, was up by 132 percent.

White House drug policy chief John Walters called the news “disappointing.”

I don’t think it’s disappointing. I think it’s tragic and telling. We knew damn well that the case has always been that so goes the heroin trade, so goes Afghanistan. In fact, one of the few things it has going for it is that it has the perfect climate to grow the precursor for heroin, and that’s why they’ve had any kind of economy in the first place. So if you try to stem the tide of narcotics and thereby upset that economy, it brings forth a massive backlash.

But that’s not just me saying it…

“It’s almost the devil’s own problem,” CIA Director Michael V. Hayden told Congress last month. “Right now the issue is stability. . . . Going in there in itself and attacking the drug trade actually feeds the instability that you want to overcome.”

And yes we knew this, and yes we abadoned the country in favor of fighting an unnecessary war in Iraq.

Hopefully we’ll remember these lessons the next time we have to take Afghanistan back from the Taliban…

UPDATE:
From the Moderate Voice comes this comment…

The crop could and should be bought at the grower level. The farmers in Afghanistan will make maybe $ 2.5-3 billion for their crop selling to gangsters and terrorists. We could easily buy it from the farmers at a competitive premium and divert it to the poorest countries in the world that are are under-served in pain medication today.

A European drug policy/human rights group, the Senlis Council, that had offices in Kabul, proposed this in the spring. In September the U.S. drug warriors had the Afghans kick Senlis Council out of the country.

The Senlis Council’s website bears this out, as they describe the ins and outs of Opium Licensing here.

I think it’s a good idea, and could have the potential to help save Afghanistan from the Taliban…again. Also, I don’t think that telling the American people that we’re buying these crops in order to make medicine would be a hard sell.

And just in case you think this is all nonsense, Turkey does something similar and it’s tolerated by the US…

The Turkish experience has several parallels to the present situation in Afghanistan as in the 1960s Turkey was one of the world’s main illegal opium producing countries. Faced with significant drug consumption problems, the US demanded complete eradication, disregarding Turkey’s domestic political situation. Emphasising the political weight of the 70,000 poppy farming families, Turkish Prime Minister Demirel deemed that “eradication would create a clash between the government forces and the people, and would make the problem worse, since eradication would create public support for plantings� (April 1970). Years of intense negotiations ultimately resulted in Turkey successfully switching to poppy licensing. The United States continues to support the Turkish poppy industry through a bilateral preferential trade agreement known as the 80/20 rule.

It sounds like a common sense idea.

What do you think?