NATO in Afghanistan is facing a dilemma. Its policies there on poppy destruction have created extreme poverty amongst the people, and pushing them towards the Taliban to seek help to protect their crops.
Poppy growing and harvesting have been the traditional agricultural activity that fed the local population and their families. The consequences of forceful eradication of the crop had resulted in a wave of starvation among destitute farming families across southern Afghanistan.
Now, southern Afghanistan is facing serious food shortages. This is precisely the scenario that sends the locals into the arms of the Taliban. The US-led NATO, by its aggressive drug policies, has reinforced the perception among the local Afghan communities that the foreigners and the central government have been leading an anti-poor policy.
Because of poor or no income, Afghan children have been dying from hunger in makeshift camps, many of which were set up near NATO military bases for security and reconstruction operations.
Experts suggest that NATO, instead of ripping up the poppy plants, should use their harvest for medicinal purposes in pain-relieving drugs such as morphine and codeine, and not just regard opium as a narcotic. Afterall, morphine-based medicinal products are required throughout the world. But I suppose the Yanks have chucked that option into the too-difficult-to-do basket.
It’s a typical American approach in bulldozing its policies through for its own interests without considering the plight of the locals. This has been exactly the same problem that some South American countries like Columbia and Peru had faced when the USA rammed its anti-cocaine policies there.
Ironically, the Taliban, when in government, had banned the growing of poppies on pain of death. When the Americans deposed the ruling Taliban after the invasion, the locals thought they could return to their only worthwhile crop to feed themselves. Somewhere between then and now, the US missed all the chances to work something better for the poor Afghan people, and keep them on its side.
But now, insofar as the Afghans are concerned, the foreigners are just as obstructive towards poppy growing as the Taliban. It's a desperate bread and butter issue. And to make matters worse for NATO, the Afghans are now switching their loyalty back to the Taliban in a hope for assistance and sympathy.
The Yanks just cannot see other people’s problems. It’s always American interests first, last and in-between, and to hell with the rest of the world, especially the local natives. Need a meal? Just pop down to the PX.