Wednesday, May 26, 2004
Shame on Ted Koppel
Nightline did a piece last night on poppy production in Afghanistan. There were three features of the story that stuck out most for me. 1. The reporter talked about how poppy production feeds terrorism, but failed to even comment on the fact that it is the prohibitory regime, not the production of poppies that feeds terrorism. 2. At the end of the piece, the reporter said that it will take a long time for Afghanistan to eradicate poppy production. After all, it took Pakistan 21 years to eradicate production of the plant, and Thailand 18 years to do the same. Can ABC News really believe that poppy production has been completely eradicated in these countries? Just last year the Thai government murdered over 2,000 citizens in the name of their war on drugs. 3. The new drug czar in Afghanistan admitted that if poppies were legal, the current state of affairs would be a great development success - apparently the money men behind the poppy farmers offer crop insurance! It is a well-functioning market within a sea of utter chaos. Unfortunately, the broadcast offered no analysis of current drug policies, or any discussion of whether or not the policies were a good idea or a bad idea. It just focused on efforts to comply with them.
The damage that U.S. drug policies have on developing countries is often not at the forefront of the debate, but it is an important consideration, and when taken into account, increases the costs of the war on drugs in human lives exponentially. Poor farmers are victimized, and ruthless, corrupt governments benefit from U.S. drug policy. The North must give up its insane notion that legalization will produce a world of dope fiends, and it must stop its brutal attack on developing countries. The media would be wise to offer some type of informed and thoughtful reporting on the issue, instead of taking the merits of these horrible policies at face value.