Vice Squad
Sunday, December 05, 2004
Afghan Sanity

No one is stepping up to take the credit for the recent aerial spraying of poppy fields and environs in Afghanistan, according to this article in today's New York Times. But surely we can all be pleased that the vicious criminal (impoverished) poppy growers are finally paying a price, can't we? I mean, our own drug czar wrote less than two weeks ago that:
Our fourth pillar [of our five-pronged anti-drug "assistance" to Afghanistan] will help the Afghans launch eradication programs to destroy poppy fields. Farmers in the past faced little threat from growing poppy and were able to reap three to four times more profits than those from food crops. Destroying poppy fields outright will be a powerful tool to discourage any future planting of illicit crops.
It turns out, though, that the Afghans themselves think that not all means of eradication are fair game -- at least judging by the comments of Jawed Ludin, President Karzai's spokesperson, as related in the Times article:
"We do not support aerial spraying as an instrument of eradication," Mr. Ludin said at a news briefing this week. "We have never in the past, at present, and never will in the future authorize the use of poppy-spraying chemicals."
Pete at Drug WarRant has more. And I should note that in the Drug Czar's op-ed, although he enthused about crop eradication and "Colombia's dramatic progress," he did not explicitly endorse aerial spraying.

The Times article referred to a 45-year-old Afghan poppy farmer as a "village elder". Why, he's only 45, I thought, he's practically a kid. But alas, life expectancy at birth for Afghan males: 42.27 years. Such are the folks who get to bear the burden of poppy eradication.

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