Wednesday, August 5, 2009
OPIUM - August 6, 2009
We are constantly being told that we have no quarrel with the Afghan people, but are just trying to save them from the grip of the Taleban and the drug lords who finance them out of the profits from the illegal opium trade. Yet the Afghans have shown us year upon year that they will not give up growing the opium poppies and gathering the resin for the manufacture of opium. Most of that goes for illegal heroin, but it is also a fact that there is a worldwide shortage for the production of morphine which is essential for the ease of pain and is priced outside the reach of the poor, who make up most of the world’s population of pain sufferers. And even heroin is a less destructive drug than cocaine and methamphetamine, with which it competes for customers. To top it all, the cost of buying the whole of the Afghan poppy resin, even at elevated prices, is far less than the cost of the war that we are fighting and losing, despite the false claims of US and UK to the contrary. And that is just in money, not counting the lives on both sides sacrificed to this hopeless effort at suppression. So why not just buy the whole crop and raise the population to sustainability while distributing morphine at bargain rates through doctors? The reason seems to lie in our approach to unacceptable behaviour, which our culture treats exclusively through punishment, with ever greater brutality as it continues to fail to exact compliance. The code words are that drugs are evil and the drug dealers are evil, and we will not compromise with evil, although the end of prohibition of alcohol is hailed as one of the great successes of the XX century. The dead hand of the Puritans prevents us from taking the action that would free the Afghans and hamper the drug lords, all while saving us from our unavailing struggle.