Yochi Dreazen Harvests Government Opium Brickbats

by Joshua Foust on 8/14/2009

We’ll see if the U.S. is successful at its $300 million weaning. But at least he got some good comments from people, if it off the record. I think it could be fun to highlight how U.S. officials are trying to spin their counternarcotics efforts. Let’s summarize.

  • The government’s response to a small program that didn’t work is to sextuple it and see what happens.
  • Well-known agricultural and counternarcotics expert Michelle Flournoy, the founder of Obama’s Shadow Pentagon, thinks that all farmers need to grow food instead of poppy is the right seed.
  • USAID it taking credit for Nangarhar’s opium crop swinging all over the place, and even though they’re an aid and economics organization they view the whole problem in moral terms.
  • Instead of fueling the rural economy, USAID thinks it’s distorting the economy; lastly, there seems to be no comprehension of the correlation between stepped up anti-drug efforts and increased local support for the insurgency.

Nowhere in there do I see improvements to road security, infrastructure development, credit institutions (“food business” is not the same as the operating loans subsistence farmers actually need), Helmand’s enormous empty cotton gin, or even the slightest realization that focusing so much energy and weaponry on literally the only thing keeping thousands of farmers from starving or being beaten to death by creditors is a very reliable way to ensure deep-seated, popular hatred of the U.S.

We’re on the cusp of victory, I just know it.


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This post was written by...

– author of 1848 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Joshua Foust is a Fellow at the American Security Project and the author of Afghanistan Journal: Selections from Registan.net. His research focuses primarily on Central and South Asia. Joshua is a correspondent for The Atlantic and a columnist for PBS Need to Know. Joshua appears regularly on the BBC World News, Aljazeera, and international public radio. Joshua's writing has appeared in the Columbia Journalism Review, Foreign Policy’s AfPak Channel, the New York Times, Reuters, and the Christian Science Monitor. Follow him on twitter: @joshuafoust

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