Today I read several articles from the Monitor World, the weekly international version of The Christian Science Monitor. One such article (from the week of January 29- February 4) spoke of the US tactics in Afghanistan to destroy the opium trade. I was upset to learn of the strategies being implemented by the US government—crop spraying. This sounds simple at first, but accomplishes very little and would actually cause much more harm than benefits for all involved, including the Americans who devised the plan. Readers learn that the poppy trade comprises about 60% of the legal trade market and 40% of the market overall.
Now, I understand that the US has interests in the safety, health, and well-being of its citizens, and that drug use is a problem, and of course I am not a supporter of drugs, but I do not believe this gives cause to destroy 60% of another country’s “legal” revenues. An alternative [and I believe much wiser] option, as the article points out, would be to provide cash for farmers that were willing to grow other crops. Yes, this will take a lot of money, work, and creativity, since poppy farming is much more lucrative than other crops, but the end result is worth it. The article succinctly states “Economic shrinkage is one of the surest predictors of instability and conflict”.
And if the plan had gone through, “economic shrinkage” is an understatement. We would have had an instant civil war on our hands, one that the US had caused.
When you consider what the US was planning to do—spend $152 million on a mission to invade a country and destroy the livelihoods of how many countless people, just like that (with no knowledge of the side effects, the article noted) and no concern whatsoever for the well-being of the citizens, bystanders, and children in the area—that sounds like one plan for disaster to me. There has to be better methods and stratagies that consider everyone’s interests, and the US government needs to have the willingness to find creative solutions. Above all, if Bush is a Christian as he claims to be, he should start acting like one and practice the Golden Rule—to do unto others (other countries) as he would have them do unto him (his country).
Side note: The Golden Rule is embedded in most all of the world religions, each with their own version, but with the same idea: be loving/don’t be nasty. Each individual’s job is to focus on his/her own actions, and make sure that they are in line with this simple and universal principle—not to judge other persons and complain about how the other is not living up to the standard.