Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Seized drugs in Afghanistan problematic

The US troops in Afghanistan are sitting on a stash of 300 lbs of assorted drugs they picked up while going about their soldierly work. A tiny fraction of what regularly moves through the country. The problem for Kabul is the economy depends on the drug trade and whole villages starve if they're not allowed to grow poppies. As to who's masterminding the operations, rumors point all the way from the local warlords to the highest reaches of government. They can't help but cast a blind eye at the traffic.

The US troops should do the same unless and until we can provide the villagers with an alternative form of income. The seized drugs represent destroyed lives of impoverished locals. Even the soldiers recognize it.
One man carrying a large amount of opium pleaded with Harris to give the drugs back, even coming to the American compound to make his case.

"He told me, 'Now I owe this man 400,000 afghanis,' " Harris said. "I actually felt bad for him. I mean, there's no way he could pay that. But I couldn't give him the opium back."
Unfortunately the man must pay all the same, either with his life, or with his teenage daughter who will be "sold" to the war lord to repay the debt. And what is this man's alternative to growing poppies? There's none. Harris goes on,
"You can tell people, 'Now you're doing the right thing, now you're a moral person, but your family and your village are going to starve.' That's a pretty tough sell."
It's an immoral sell. We bombed their country back into the stone age and we've done almost nothing to reconstruct it. The least we could do is let them make a living the best way they can.


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