Blair to legalize poppy production?
This is so sensible a proposition that I thought at first it was an April Fool's joke but it appears real. Tony Blair is apparently ready to legalize poppy production in Afghanistan. Word has it, Blair is seriously considering the Senlis Council's long standing call to buy up the crop and use it to alleviate the shortage of legal morphine. I guess they don't suffer the same pressure from the US pharma corps to keep profit levels high through artificially reduced supplies. It makes sense on so many levels.
The links between drug warlords, terrorism and the Taliban are clear. Traffickers hold poor farmers in a form of bondage through the supply of credit, paid back in opium. Many of those fighting British troops during the winter months will return to their villages to harvest poppy crops in the spring and summer. The traffickers' huge profits help to fund the fight against Nato troops.The Bush administration will no doubt fight this tooth and nail, because it would likely succeed and make a mockery of their favored eradication approach. But one can only hope the international community could band together and exert enough pressure to force our US prohibs into compliance with a common sense idea for a change.
The White House has consistently rejected the idea that opium could help to solve Afghanistan's chronic poverty. But there are clear signs of a shift in international opinion towards allowing a legal trade. Pervez Musharraf, the President of Pakistan, has said that "buying the crop is an idea we could explore". He added: "We would need money from the US or the UN. But we could buy the whole crop and destroy it. In that way the poor growers would not suffer."
The Afghan President, Hamid Karzai, who has opposed the idea in the past, is said privately to have changed his mind - as long as the international community takes on any licensing scheme.