Vice Squad
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Anti-Drug Counter-Advertising in Afghanistan

The contradiction between NATO's military mission in Afghanistan and poppy eradication efforts briefly burst into the open, until the Afghan government requested that the status quo ante, the implicit contradiction, be restored. A radio advertisement, paid for by the NATO-run International Security Assistance Force (Isaf), was at the heart of the controversy. Isaf's mission is to win the hearts and minds of the Afghan people to the cause of the Afghan government and its foreign allies. Recognizing that some two million poor Afghans raise poppies for opium production, the radio advertisement, aired in a poppy-growing region of Afghanistan,
...said Isaf troops understood that most Afghan people had no source of income other than poppy production.

It [the ad] said that troops are not in Afghanistan to eradicate opium poppies, but to bring security and kill foreign militants.

The implication that it was OK to grow opium poppies was too much (too honest?) for some folks, and the advertisement was dropped. A representative from the ever-helpful UN Office on Drugs and Crime reminds us (in the linked BBC article) of the connection between the Afghan insurgents and drug traffickers -- a connection fostered by the misguided worldwide prohibition on opium, which incidentally, also is responsible for the connection in UN offices between Drugs and Crime.

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