- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 13, 2009


James Nathan rightly accepts poppy-crop eradication as a disastrous and counterproductive technique in solving the opium crisis in Afghanistan (“Ending the Taliban’s money stream,” Op-Ed, Thursday). However, his recommendation that the United States take financial control of Afghanistan’s opium stock is misguided and simply not a viable option.

Buying up Afghanistan’s entire opium crop would do little to improve the country’s dire economic and development crises. In fact, there is a very real chance that it could worsen them. Simply buying up the opium would not give Afghan rural communities the incentive to move away from illicit poppy-crop cultivation. It would maintain the almost complete dependence on opium and fail to develop and diversify the rural economy.

The most effective way to ensure an end to illegal heroin cultivation and trafficking is to give Afghan farmers themselves the opportunity to diversify their crops. The International Council on Security and Development’s Poppy for Medicine (P4M) initiative would give farmers these new financial incentives while at the same time filling the gap in the affordable-painkiller market. These straightforward and effective pilot projects have been proposed with intended and immediate implementation and effect.

Afghanistan must be put back into the hands of the Afghan population. Developmental action for Afghanistan, which is outlined in P4M’s proposals, is imperative if the international community genuinely intends to ease the country’s suffering. Not only would the people reap the benefits, but so would 80 percent of the world’s population lacking access to basic painkillers such as morphine.


President and lead field


The International Council on Security and Development (ICOS)


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