The Drug Dilemma in Afghanistan

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As
you probably know, when the Taliban was in power opium production
in
Afghanistan was
virtually non-existent. However, since the U.S. military overran
the country, ousted the Taliban, and oversaw the election of a pro-American
president (shades of the Soviet satellites!), the drug trade has
been flourishing.

Now
the Bush administration, facing the consequences of its own acts,
is caught in a dilemma. Does it spray poison from airplanes to wipe
out the opium crop (estimated to be worth $7–10 billion this
year), or does it stay out of the picture, allow the drugs to sneak
into America, and keep the Afghan warlords (who profit from the
opium) happy so that they support the pro-American Afghan president?
The dilemma is made even worse by the fact that parliamentary elections
are coming up in April. Wiping out the opium crops will likely hurt
the pro-American candidates.

The
Los Angeles Times provided
an excellent summary
of the "Afghan Quandary" last
Sunday. A former UN advisor uttered the unmentionable truth about
the new satellite countries the U.S. is creating: "You tell
them, ‘You’re voting for a new democratic country,’ while their
government is allowing foreigners to come in and destroy their livelihood?"

The
U.S. administration’s world-reformers are facing a negative choice:
one in which either option is bad, the only question being which
is the least bad.

This
dilemma is also symbolic of what happens when you charge into a
foreign country with no knowledge of its history, its culture, or
its aspirations. Sooner or later, it’s obvious that you’ve made
a tragic mistake – but the mistake goes relatively unnoticed
by the public, because meanwhile you’ve charged into another country.

Most
likely the Bush folks will decide to solve the Afghan problem in
the classic American political way – postpone the crop eradication
until after the April elections.

January
13, 2005

Harry Browne [send
him mail
], the author of Why
Government Doesn’t Work

and many other books, was the Libertarian presidential candidate
in 1996 and 2000. See his website.

Harry
Browne Archives

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