Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Progress in the War on Opium: Not!

One goal of the U.S. presence in Afghanistan has been to suppress opium production, since Afghanistan is the world's leading supplier. So, how has that been going? Not so well:
Cultivation in Afghanistan of opium, the nation's most lucrative cash crop and a major funding source for the Taliban, has fallen sharply this year in large part because an excess supply of the drug has pushed down prices to a 10-year low, according to a U.N. report scheduled to be released Wednesday.

Opium cultivation takes place in plain view, yet the U.S. has been spectacularly unsuccesseful in supressing it. It is any wonder we cannot defeat the Taliban, which has innumerable places to hide? Both goals are futile.

15 comments:

Mike Huben said...

First: opium cultivation HAS been successfully halted in the past, so it is not a futile goal. The lesson for libertarians here is that it was halted by the Taliban, through a rigid theocratic dictatorship intent on denying drug money to its opponents. There's a measure of where some liberty is needed.

But most obvious is the patent libertarian cluelessness about strategy. Miron is so clueless that he doesn't even check Wikipedia on the subject:

Former U.S. State Department Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs Thomas Schweich, in a New York Times article dated July 27, 2007, asserts that opium production is protected by the government of Hamid Karzai as well as by the Taliban, as all parties to political conflict in Afghanistan as well as criminals benefit from opium production, and, in Schweich's opinion, the U.S. military turns a blind eye to opium production as not being central to its anti-terrorism mission.
Opium production in Afghanistan

In other words, while it may be a written objective, we are not trying. That demonstrates nothing about "futility". It does demonstrate that Miron's arguments are based on stupid assumptions without even the basic fact checking available in Wikipedia. I suppose that's good enough if you simply want to produce a running stream of libertarian propaganda.

More sensibly, the war in Afghanistan is ideological: warlords versus theocracy versus liberal government. We will not persuade the hinterland to liberal government by destroying their most profitable crops.

Gordon Hutton said...

Aside from your frivolous insults, Mike, I'm inclined to agree with your final two paragraphs.

But, Christ, did a libertarian shoot your dog or something? The relentless ad hominem shots don't add much. It makes for cringe worthy reading. All that vitriol dilutes the substance.

Mike Huben said...

For me, arguments as insultingly stupid and propaganda laden as Miron's are the equivalent of shooting my dog. I cringe at some arguments from each political point of view, sometimes even my own. But I find that libertarian arguments (a) are almost always grotesquely awful and (b) are for policies that would be truly wrong-headed and harmful. Libertarians are the most annoying thing I could find in American politics besides creationists.

If you really agree with my next to last paragraph of the previous response (and not just its first sentence), good for us.

Gordon Hutton said...

No, I agree that a little more fact checking was in order, too.

I've never been a fan of "religious" views held by any on the political spectrum, meaning knee-jerk, dogmatic responses to every situation.

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