Record Numbers of Poppies in Afghanistan

New York Times has an article detailing the record levels of opium being produced in Afghanistan this year. We are spending $600 million on counternarcotics efforts, divided between eradication, interdiction, and "alternative livelihoods." Government officials admit, however, that eradication "drives farmers into the hands of the Taliban." Why not pay the farmers for the opium they produce and then destroy the crop, instead of insisting they grow wheat, which makes a tenth of the profits? A lot of the high cost of heroin in the United States is added at the end, because it costs so much to smuggle it in and refine it for street sale. As the leader of the free world, and with trillions of dollars in tax revenue, we should be able to outbid the Taliban.

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