Pubdate: Sun, 10 Aug 2008
Source: New York Times Magazine (NY)
Page: MM6
Copyright: 2008 The New York Times Company
Note: The New York Times Magazine is a section of the Sunday edition 
of the New York Times
Author: Louis Candell


Concerning Schweich's simple solution to the problem of opium
cultivation in Afghanistan, I have this to say: It's basically old
wine in an old bottle in a new store. My federal drug-law-enforcement
career at domestic and overseas posts began not long before President
Nixon declared our "war on drugs" and ended not long before the
problem of opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan became so critical.
The drugs in question are different (heroin made from opium and
cocaine derived from coca), but the situations in Afghanistan and
Colombia are similar. In both countries, poverty, corruption,
political instability, greed and violence are integral aspects of
continuing drug trafficking.

In Colombia, decades of agricultural incentives, financial inducements
and stepped-up enforcement operations by police and military
(including U.S. personnel) have not appreciably stemmed the flow of
cocaine from South America. Virtually all the steps Schweich advocates
to "bring the rule of law to a lawless country" have been tried. Still
the cocaine arrives at its destinations in adequate quantities.

Louis Candell

Williamsburg, Va.
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