Wednesday, October 7, 2009

AFGHANISTAN - October 8, 2009

The news these days concerns the situation in Afghanistan, which seems to be no-win, in which the only choice seems to be between 2 unacceptable routes. Yet it is possible to expand the suggestion about buying Afghanistani poppy resin as a means to stem its use in the illegal drug trade and at the same time to provide low-cost morphine for medical use, in both the industrial and developing world. A bit of additional thought might be given to further methods to accomplish even more. It involves making Afghanistan a trading partner by paying more for the agricultural material than the illegal trade can match. A basic thought in that trade is that the heroin powder, so expensive in the supply to addicts, is far cheaper in the raw, and represents the asset that enables the Taliban to afford its costs in the arms trade. Despite the great wealth of some of their underwriters, it is hard to believe that they can keep a competition with America, especially in light of the costs of the illegal operation. If America bought the bulk of the crop and manufactured the opiates in legal factories, we should easily be able to keep ahead of the drug barons. Into the bargain, we might have found a reason why the Afghanis would want to be on the right side of US. In the Anglo-Saxon tradition, we have tended to put all our reliance in discouraging antisocial conduct on the practice of extracting punishment if people don’t do things the way we think we would want, rather than by socializing them to see the benefits in voluntary cooperation. It might be, after all, that we get more favorable response from the Afghani farmers as trading partners, even at some cost to us, than in trying to force them by what we imagine is our overwhelming power to live the way our puritanical nation wants them to.

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