Poppy Wars

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On a medical blog recently, a physician concerned about passage of Obamacare lamented, “When 77% of the population does not like the bill in its present form yet politicians are still trying to pass it, does it not cry for revolution? We must stand up and contact our senators and congressmen.”

It seems that the idea of revolution has devolved some- what over the centuries. No more pledging one’s life, lib- erty, and sacred honor. No more difficult choices between liberty and death. None of those wild-hairs like Patrick Henry calling for us to take up arms. Now you can do it simply by contacting your congressional representatives.

It’s much safer, and, if you take a long enough view, in favor of stepped-up interdiction, as well as efforts to reduce the addiction that Afghan farmers have to grow- ing them. Quite correctly, Holbrooke acknowledged that the policy of eradication only served to “alienate poppy farmers who were poor farmers, who were growing the best cash crop they could grow, in a market where they couldn’t get other things to market.”

We might look at this change in philosophy as a sensible evaluation of the situation on the ground: the United States didn’t simply abandon the effort, but it recognized the overwhelming market forces at play. Nevertheless, new and very meddlesome policies were instituted. We must live with the ongoing expense in blood and treasure, not to mention lost freedoms, that is involved in interdict- ing and subsidizing competent Afghan poppy farmers to farm something else. Notably, no such program exists for vodka and Russian potato farmers.

When will Americans wake up and realize that the supposed “cure” is worse than the disease, that to continue to ignore the lessons of Prohibition is to encourage corruption and criminality at every level of government and civil society?

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