Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Bigger Failure: War on Terror or War on Drugs?

Afghanistan is at the nexus of each.  Check out this chart:

Now, it's true that the total amount of opium produced in Afghanistan has declined from its 2008 peak. But, according to the UN, that's because of "plant diseases and bad weather" — not the war. There's more land devoted to poppy cultivation, but it's less productive because of natural conditions. Drug eradication doesn't appear to have much to do with it.
Why has the campaign against opium failed so epically? There are plenty of reasons, including widespread Afghan government corruption and the fact that 95 percent of poppy cultivation happens in the country's insecure, Taliban-filled southwestern provinces.
But the most important one is the most basic — Afghanistan runs on opium. Opium-related activities make up half of the country's GDP; the legal economy depends on its proceeds to function. As Fabrice Pothier, the director of the Carnegie Endowment's European branch and an expert of the Afghan drug trade, explains in an absolutely staggering passage, opium is more than 50 times as important to Afghanistan as cocaine is to Colombia.
We suck at running our own country, why in the fuck do we think we can run other countries?  We've got our own religious zealots fighting against the civil rights of our citizens.  We provide by far the greatest market in the world for the products of poppies.  Let's stay out of the nation building game and worry more about dealing with addiction here.  Try to adjust the demand side of the equation, not the supply side.  From news reports, heroin is extremely cheap and widely available.  Why in the fuck are we halfway around the world trying to limit production?  Also, to answer the headline of the post, both "wars" are unwinnable bullshit, so it is  probably a draw.

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