U.S. Debating Payoffs For Afghan Poppy Growers

Posted: Jul 22, 2009 6:30 PM
From the Marine Corps Times:
The Obama administration is considering whether to pay off Afghan farmers to stop them from growing heroin poppies on contract for the Taliban, senior officials said Tuesday.

...The U.S. wants to prevent an expansion of poppy cultivation and profit-taking by the Taliban as additional U.S. forces push deep into areas of southern Afghanistan where poppy is the most lucrative crop and where the Taliban insurgency is strongest, a senior defense official said.
The slash-and-burn poppy policy that the U.S. adopted when we first entered Afghanistan stopped working when we ran out of motivation to keep slashing and burning. If this new  pay-for-it scheme does work, it will stop working as soon as we lose our motivation to stop paying. Which will be just as quick, if not quicker, than we lost our motivation to stop burning.

But it won't work even before that. Afghanistan supplies 90% of the world's heroine, and we'll never be willing to pay farmers as much as they get for selling it on the market. Furthermore, the ability of farmers to exploit this sort of system is enormous. All they have to do is take the cash, then hide their poppy crop from what will be an undoubtedly small number of U.S. monitors.

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