This Los Angeles Times op-ed about dealing with the degeneration of Afghanistan into a terror/narco state presents one of the most interesting arguments I’ve read all year:
The solution is simple. Instead of destroying Afghanistan’s most valuable resource, Western governments should buy it outright and resell it to producers of legal opiate-based painkillers on the global market. Instead of confronting Afghan farmers about their crop, our representatives should be approaching them with hard cash.
This has been successfully tried before. In the early 1970s, the Nixon administration began to demand that the opium farmers of southern Turkey destroy their crops. Every attempt at destruction — carried out by reluctant Turkish prime ministers coerced with threats of cuts in U.S. military aid — failed. Eventually, Turkey was considered to be such a crucial Cold War ally that the U.S. granted it an exception. So Turkey joined India as a legal supplier of opiates for pain-control purposes, and it remains so today. Isn’t Afghanistan even more important today than Turkey was in the 1970s?
It is a strange truth that if President Bush really wants to live up to his rhetoric about saving Afghanistan, he must urgently launch the biggest drug deal in history.