A War on Afghan Drugs

Most government programs end up having unintended consequences, or at least unintended by the majority of people who support them.  Sometimes I take this a step further and say that government programs not only don’t achieve their stated purpose, but they often do the exact opposite.

The government gave us a War on Poverty and we get more poverty.  The government gave us a War on Terror and we get more terrorism, particularly in the places where the War on Terror is being fought.  The same goes with the government’s War on Drugs, which does anything but eradicate drug use.

But the drug war is not just at home.  It has also been fought in Afghanistan.  You thought the military was there to kill terrorists?  You thought the military was there to free the Afghan people?  No, it is much better than that.  The military is fighting opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan.  There is a U.S. War on Drugs in Afghanistan.

This is not chump change either.  Since the beginning of the war and occupation of Afghanistan, the U.S. government has spent approximately $7.6 billion in operations to stop drug production by farmers in Afghanistan.  As an American taxpayer, do you think that is money well spent?

Meanwhile, according to one report, Afghan farmers grew the largest amount of opium poppy in 2013, surpassing the previous peak set in 2007.  The drug trade is valued at almost $3 billion, which is a lot of money, but still not as much as what has been spent to fight it.

Just like most government programs, the U.S. has declared previous victories, only to see these supposed victories vanish.  Think of “Mission Accomplished”, except apply this to every other government operation.

Six years ago, one area of Afghanistan was declared drug free, but since that time, poppy farming has since resumed and expanded.  Somehow the defeats do not get reported in the same manner as the so-called victories.

End the Drug War – Everywhere

It is amazing how one government intervention is used as an excuse for another.  Fighting drugs in America has been used extensively as an excuse to infringe on the civil liberties of Americans, including searches, traffic stops, monitoring financial transactions, and many more things.  Of course, the War on Terror has been used in the same way.

In the case of Afghanistan, the War on Terror led to another war on drugs.  We supposedly have to fight drugs in Afghanistan because that money can be used to fund terrorist organizations.  But ironically, the only reason that drug farming is so profitable in Afghanistan is because of the high prices due to their illegality, particularly in the United States.  This is a full circle of logic here.

Also, does this mean that anything profitable should be destroyed in Afghanistan?  I thought the U.S. military was bringing freedom and democracy to the country.  If someone sells handcrafted rugs, couldn’t that money be used to fund terrorism too?  I suppose I shouldn’t belabor this point or we may end up with a War on Rugs too.

Poppy cultivation is one of the few things in Afghanistan that is profitable.  It is a war-torn country that is extremely poor.  It is no surprise that people are going to do whatever they can to make a little money just to put food on the table, if they even own a table.

The U.S. drug war – both at home and abroad – causes nothing but increased violence.  It should be ended everywhere.  When alcohol was legalized in the U.S. in the midst of the Great Depression, violent crime went down significantly.  Now we don’t see gang warfare in the inner cities between wine companies and beer companies.

Americans have had enough and the Afghanis have certainly had enough.  Let’s start a new world of peace, starting with the ending of these government wars.  And we can save a lot of money in the process too.