Feb 08 2007

The drug war and the media war in Afghanistan

The latest media bomb from Afghanistan about Canadian troops abusing prisoners is not good.

The facts as they’ve been reported thus far don’t seem to merit the attention the incidents are getting. Taliban prisoners who were being “non-compliant,” “extremely belligerent” and “totally unco-operative” received injuries including “lacerations on L and R eyebrows; contusions and swelling of both eyes; lacerations on L cheek; lacerations center of forehead; abrasions on chin; multiple contusions on both upper arms, back and chest.”

It’s not on the same scale as the Somalia Affair. It’s barely on the same scale as Mike Tyson’s ear-biting incident with Evander Holyfield.

But incidents like this don’t lose wars. The new American proposal on opium eradication in Afghanistan might.

Canadians ought to be protesting this strategy in the streets, since it (and our current policy) is putting Canadian soldiers’ lives at risk. The current strategy of eradicating poppy crops and going after drug smugglers that fund the Taliban only alienates the vast majority of farmers in Afghanistan and takes military resources away from fighting the main enemy.

Allowing Afghan farmers to grow opium, letting NATO countries or the Afghan government buy the crop and sell it to pharmaceutical companies to process cheap Aspirin for the developing world is a win-win-win situation. This idea has been bandied about for at least six months now. It would win the hearts of people on the ground, bankrupt the Taliban and literally take some of the pain out of living in a developing country.

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