The Armchair Generalist, whose blog I like a great deal, wonders why, since much of the opium crop in Afghanistan is used to buy weapons for the bad guys, the US army keeps resisting going on mass crop sprawing operations?
The reason is that if they do that, the warlords and tribes will rise up en masse. This is how both farmers and those who take a share from the farmers make their living – there are no other cash crop worth bothering with in Afghanistan. So while opium funds a lot of the Taliban, the poblem is it also funds a lot of the US’s allies – the ground troops that actually fought most of the battles of the Afghanistan invasion. And it keeps a lot of farmers alive and with some pocket money.
The smartest way to deal with the opium problem would be to allow Afghani farmers to sell it legally to pharmaceutical companies – who, after all, need it for all the opiates sold legally around the world. If you have to make a living doing something illegal then they are required to associate with unsavory people. And once you start making deals with the mob, or the Taliban, it’s very hard to get out.
More After the Jump
Or hey, spray it all and try and smash down the uprising, if you can, then flood the country with billions of real economic aid – but that won’t happen, because no one is actually willing to pay what it would take.
The problem is the US army is caught in a trap – they feel they can’t say “look, spraying all the opium crops is stupid, because both ordinary people and our allies rely on that crop along with the Taliban”. They can’t say that because in the US drugs are “EVIL”, and have been treated as “EVIL” for the last thirty odd years, complete with hysterical and counterproductive “drug wars”. But they also know they can’t actually treat the opium crop like it’s “EVIL” because if they do, they’ll have an explosion on their hands.
And, as usual, the deeper problem is the refusal to deal with hard facts when they clash with a predertimined ideology.
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