27 August 2007

Good news for Afghanistan's economy

Read that headline carefully. Note that I said Afghanistan's economy, not Afghanistan.

The good news is -- what else? -- the booming poppy crop. Consider the stats:

- The crop has increased for six straight years.
- Afghanistan now produces 95 per cent of the world's opium, up from 92 per cent in 2006.
- Opium and the heroin made from it
are worth $3 billion US to the Afghan economy, a third of its gross domestic product.

Hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent to defeat poppy growing and have utterly failed.
The United States is giving $200 million US this year to Helmand, the major opium-producing province, as part of a strategy of
financial incentives to suppress drug production while increasing co-ordination between counter-narcotics forces and the military. Christina Oguz, the head of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in Afghanistan, says: "They use it for growing opium. This is telling the rest of the country 'grow opium and we'll give you a lot of rewards'." This failure is hardly surprising. Imagine how much success we would have with a program whose goal was to decimate a third of our GDP.

In Afghanistan the poppy rules. Those who control the poppy control the economy, and those who control the economy control the country.

No comments:

Post a Comment