It is not too late to win back the hearts and minds of the Afghan people. International troops are excelling in an exceptionally hostile environment, but this is not a war that will be won by military means alone. With public perception a crucial factor in winning the war, and the Taliban poised to launch a large military initiative next spring, failure to adopt a successful local strategy could signify the last chance the international community will have to build a secure and stable Afghanistan.The solution is to license farmers to produce opium for medical morphine. It is a great suggestion. I fear the Bush Administration will not be interested in it. That's why I remain very, very pessimistic about the chances for success in Afghanistan. Recommend this Post
But a successful strategy - one that responds to Afghanistan's extreme poverty crisis - requires that the international community reverse course on crop eradication. In fact, the eradication of poppy crops not only damages local communities and undermines the international community's goals, but it is also failing: opium production last year was at an all-time high. In September, the United Nations Office on Drugs Crime announced that poppy cultivation soared by a record-high 60%.
Eradication will never be successful in Afghanistan, because it destroys the single crop that will grow in the south's harsh climate - and thus serves as the main source of income to millions of people. So a new, long-term, economically sustainable solution is urgently needed - one that directly engages with the communities that are suffering most - in order to achieve the support of the deeply impoverished rural population
Friday, July 13, 2007
From today's Guardian: