Vice Squad
Monday, April 28, 2008
Apostasy: Something More Important Than the Drug War

It's that little matter of winning the war in Afghanistan. A British outpost is surrounded by poppy fields. So of course, the soldiers are out in the fields, pulling up poppies and ensuring that the opium crop is not replanted, just like the head of the UN's Office on Drugs and Crime wants. Oh no, that's not right: the soldiers ignore the poppy fields and their diligent custodians:
Sometimes they even help them. When one poppy worker arrived at the camp gate suffering from heat exhaustion recently, he was referred to the main base in Garmser town, less than a mile away. He was treated by a military doctor. "We're not much interested in what they are doing with the poppy," said Sgt Russell. "We know it's going on but we're soldiers, not politicians. And we're here to do a good job."
Of course, the US and the UN haven't given up on eradication of the poppy fields. (Remember, the UN is committed to a drug-free world, 2008):
US-funded efforts to destroy the crops with tractors and sticks have produced meagre results. This year's campaign left several eradication workers dead, dozens more injured and destroyed just 4,000 hectares of poppy - a sliver of the total. But officials are pleased that some major drug cultivators were hit. About a fifth of the crop of Abdul Rahman Jan - until two years ago the provincial police chief - was destroyed.
That last is quite a resounding victory in this war on an unapproved plant. Shout it from the mountaintops! One producer's output is but 80% of what it used to be! We might never achieve this level of success again.

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