Thursday, 1 March 2012

The US should buy the Afghan opium crop

This isn't a new idea, but with Obama pulling troops out, and the Taliban sitting on the hillsides watching and waiting, the poor Afghans are going to be back where they've always been unless the West does something. So, some thoughts as a discussion starter...
  • The West has an aging population, which will need an awful lot of medicating (and euthanising?) in the next 20 years.
  • The annual opium crop is worth approximately $US 3 billion a year - this is peanuts compared to the cost of keeping an army there.
  • The opium revenue is keeping the Taliban alive and active.
  • Village chiefs feel pressured into cooperating with the Taliban to sell their crop; this would remove the issue.
  • Purchase deals with village chiefs will be contingent on good behaviour, including womens rights, education, and agricultural development.
  • Villagers who break ranks to sell to the Taliban or the black market will jeopardise the whole village's income. If the chief thinks his Hilux will be repossessed, he'll become very diligent about stopping defections from the arrangement. 
  • Any miscreant will also get the hard word from his neighbours, who'll see their irrigation systems and new roofs put at risk.
  • Once people get economic growth and education, they won't willingly return to ignorance and bullying.

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