Pubdate: Sun, 18 Feb 2007
Source: Sunday Times (UK)
Copyright: 2007 Times Newspapers Ltd.
Author: Paul Smyth
Bookmark: (Heroin)


ANY reflection on Afghan opium that does not mention the damage it 
inflicts on the populations of Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan is 
incomplete (for example, the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime 
Report of 2006 estimates Iran has more than 1.2m opiate abusers, 
nearly 3% of the general population aged 15-64). A Eurocentric focus 
on demand is understandable from this end of the telescope but it 
distorts the picture (America is doped up in Colombia for a bad trip 
in Afghanistan, Comment, last week).

The increase in violence in southern Afghanistan in 2006 is not due 
to tactics employed by different coalition partners, but to the 
arrival of international security forces in areas hitherto 
uncontested and conveniently close to Taliban heartlands along the border.

To consign the Afghan people to life under either local warlords or 
the Taliban appears a wicked option. Since 2001, the international 
community has given repeated assurances to Afghanistan that it would 
help bring it out of the dark ages. Its performance thus far is 
worthy of significant criticism, but to focus on the struggle of 
those who have taken this responsibility seriously is to aim at the 
wrong target.

America has spent enormous resources on counter-narcotics in 
Afghanistan. Given that a very small proportion of Afghan-sourced 
heroin reaches the US its efforts have been largely on behalf of the 
region and Europe.

We never say thank you.

Paul Smyth

Royal United Services Institute

London SW1
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MAP posted-by: Beth Wehrman