Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Today Programme Gordon Corera reveals the bleedin obvious in Afghanistan

Interesting piece on Today today. Gordon Corera examines how narcotics, the insurgency and the government are interlinked. Conclusion: Intimately.
Main facts:
  • Narcotics trade is worth 50% of Afghan GDP (I thought it was only 40%).
  • Confirmation of the British policy, disseminated in an official leaflet: "ISAF does not destroy poppies". (we suspected this on the basis of footage of squaddies wading through poppy fields, waving benignly at the growers)
  • Some Afghanis are making obscene amounts of money from drugs, and they have close ties with the state (no surprise to regular readers of this blog).
  • Karzai's electoral base is in Helmand, the main poppy growing belt. (I didn't know that. It figures)
  • Drugs are linked to corruption (no surprise there, though the Foreign Office attempts to deny it)
  • Afghan people are fed up with Government corruption. (no surprise there at all)
So Carera's report, linked with the straws in the wind indicating NATO's mission in Afghanistan is not an unalloyed success, and the fact that millions are dying in agony unrelieved by medical opiates, confirms the merit of the idea that we should buy the poppy, medicalise it and use it to relieve suffering.

The Minister responsible is Lord Malloch-Brown, Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, London SW1A 2AH.

Ask him to give serious and sympathetic thought to the case that Dr Caroline Lucas, leader of the Green Party, is putting to him regarding the legitimising of the Afghan poppy trade.

American readers of this blog: please let's get the US Green Party to bring sustained pressure on Obama's Afghan policy review to consider this option.

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