“We are out of the eradication business”



Will writes from Washington, D.C. (well, Arlington, Virginia). You can reach him at willblogcorrespondence at gmail dot com.

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16 Responses

  1. Avatar Mopey Duns says:

    Given that the street value is so much higher than the outlay to purchase the poppies, would a move by the US to buy up the poppy crop simply be met by a higher offer to the farmers from the drug suppliers? Or is the hope that, given a legal avenue through which to sell their poppy crops, the farmers would forgo the potentially greater illegal revenue stream?Report

    • Avatar Will says:

      @Mopey Duns, To put it crudely, I think the US can afford to simply out-bid the drug refiners indefinitely.Report

      • Avatar Mopey Duns says:


        I don’t disagree. And while it’s probably still cheaper than trying to fight the heroin trade directly, I think it is a more expensive prospect than current prices would indicate.Report

    • @Mopey Duns, I had the same thought here. But we should also factor into the equation that the legality of the sale to the USG would come with a not-insignificant fringe benefit – enforceability of the contract. So I would think that the suppliers would need to outbid the USG by a pretty good sum.Report

    • Avatar Jim says:

      @Mopey Duns,
      There’s a huge gap between the street value and what the buyers can afford to pay because those buyers do not have access to the prices the end-users are paying. There are thousands of miles of transport and borders and competition between them and the end-users and their cash.Report

  2. Avatar ThatPirateGuy says:

    Stop making sense.Report

  3. Avatar Jaybird says:

    What disturbs me is the following assumption:

    Other country is growing poppies for opium and associateds production and we have the right to burn these poppies to the ground.

    It’s like *NOBODY* even questions this.

    What gives us the right to burn these flowers in this other country?

    How freakin’ different is this from crazy Muslim police in charge of preserving virtue and preventing vice from smashing pictures of one’s family?Report

  4. I can think of one pretty obvious reason why this proposal has no chance of going anywhere. The campaign commercial writes itself.

    “President Obama and the Democrats in Congress are taking hundreds of millions of dollars from our military in Afghanistan and handing it over to heroin manufacturers. On November 2, send President Obama and his allies in Congress a message that Americans will not tolerate an administration that takes from our troops to give to terrorist-supporting Islamic drug lords.”

    Actually, that’s not remotely senstationalistic enough, but you get the idea.Report

    • Avatar Roque Nuevo says:

      @Mark Thompson, How about, “President Obama has found a way to guarantee the nation’s supply of painkillers for hospitals and hospices, and to hit the Taliban’s funding where it hurts. He has ordered the US military to buy up Afghanistan’s opium production for domestic use, thereby taking the drug off the illegal market. Drug companies will bid on the new opium supply and the narcotics will be in hospitals by next fall. Afghan farmers will now have a business relationship with the US, instead of with the Taliban.” You get the idea.

      We don’t have to spend the money, but we can sell the opium to drug companies. I’m sure there’s a way to make it cost-effective, especially when there’s a war on.

      Will the Republicans be able to criticize Obama for getting hospitals and hospices a cheaper supply of opiates, using smartough policy to fight the drug war, while hitting the economics of the Taliban insurgency? I really don’t think so.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        @Roque Nuevo, the DEA has a huge problem with pain management in this country. They bust doctors for prescribing “too many” painkillers. They bust patients for having what they have been prescribed.

        It’s f’ed up, yo.Report

  5. Avatar North says:

    Well it’s hopeful. I’ll believe in sensibility from our policy makers on this front when I see it and not before but at least they’re making some intelligent noises which is a damn sight better than things were.Report

  6. Avatar Chris Dierkes says:

    While I agree (in principle) with the policy, it’s important to remember the various insurgencies in Af-Pak (including but not limited to Taliban) have multiple sources of funding. Kidnapping, local taxation, charities mostly from The Gulf, weapons smuggling. Drugs is only a slice of their income stream.Report

    • Avatar Jim says:

      @Chris Dierkes,
      Drugs are the major souorce of taliban income in the southern provinces.

      Other sources vary:

      Kidnapping, local taxation – these work only until the growers, newly wealthy with money form thier American customer, buys more guns and gunmen than the taliban can afford.

      Gulf charities – these are small vulnerable states, and not known for caring about civil rights, so a little pressure would go a long away to stopping the flow of love to the Taliban.Report

  7. Avatar Katherine says:

    I’m very glad to see the US is finally adopting a relatively same policy on poppy-growing in Afghanistan and stopping eradication. I wish they would do the same in Latin America with regards to coca, but I suppose that’s too much to hope for.Report