Afghanistan’s opium trade: allowing the inevitable?

A topic we’ve kicked around before. Afghanistan has a long history with opium, and a few years of eradication policy won’t erase that. In general, I’m against crop eradication of foreign countries, but I’d welcome a discussion on this:

“Eradication has been a failure,” says Romesh Bhattacharji, former narcotics commissioner for India. “Licensing is the only alternative.” Bhattacharji was involved in a similar government-run project in India, which he says has been a success and from which Afghanistan can learn important lessons.

Crop eradication sees the poorest of the population become either even more impoverished or sent into the arms of the Taliban, says Bhattacharji. The Taliban often attack the eradication operations, and end up looking like “white knights” to the farmers, Reinert says.

The painkillers morphine and codeine are fairly easy to make from opium, and have been produced since the nineteenth century. There is a global shortage of morphine as a painkiller, especially in the developing world.

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5 Responses to “Afghanistan’s opium trade: allowing the inevitable?”

  1. wdporter Says:

    Wait…who’s been doing the eradicating?

    If there’s a shortage of morphine worldwide, why is anyone eradicating?

  2. Rip Says:

    I recall that the Taliban tried to eliminate the opium trade when they were formerly in power. So now they’re opposing eradication?

    Let the farmers grow opium or whatever else they need to grow to feed their children.

  3. wdporter Says:

    well exactly, but the article doesn’t say (or maybe I missed it) WHO is doing the eradicating. Obviously it’s not the Taliban or they wouldn’t be “running into their arms.”

    So is it the new Afghani Government? Is it NATO? The U.S. Military?

    Either way, it seems like an insanely bad idea.

  4. Rip Says:

    It looks like almost everyone is for eradication. Check out the link below. It’s a detailed (translated: long) article by the State Dept titled “U.S. Opposes Efforts to Legalize Opium in Afghanistan: The Rationale Against Legalization”

    http://www.state.gov/p/inl/rls/rpt/80734.htm

    Also, when you get a chance, let me know how to hyperlink within a comment. Thanks.

  5. .... Says:

    There is NOT a shortage of opium. there are several types of opium and some countries, afghanistan for example, make the type of opium that isn’t useful for medications. the WHO has been growing it’s own stockpile of opium since 1990. the problem is not how MUCH there is, it’s the distribution of it.


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