If Britain were fighting a war where 2,000 people died every year, where increasing numbers of our young people were recruited by the enemy and our opponents were always a step ahead, developing new weapons faster than we could combat them, there would be outcry and loud calls for change. Yet this is exactly the situation with the "war on drugs" and for far too long we have resisted a proper debate about the need for a different strategy.
The US government estimates that heroin production has sharply declined in Colombia over the past decade, yet the United Nations claims the country remains the primary supplier of the drug for the US market. So which is it? The picture is confusing, beginning with the most recent World Drug Report from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). In the report, the UN said Colombia continued to be reported by US officials as the main supplier of heroin to the United States.
The United States is withdrawing troops from Afghanistan having lost its battle against the country’s narcotics industry, marking one of the starkest failures of the 2009 strategy the Obama administration pursued in an effort to turn around the war. Despite a U.S. investment of nearly $7 billion since 2002 to combat it, the country’s opium market is booming, propelled by steady demand and an insurgency that has assumed an increasingly hands-on role in the trade.
The arrest of Juan Ortiz Lopez, an alleged drug kingpin in Guatemala, may mark the beginning of increased cooperation between the US and Central American nations dogged by increasing drug-related violence...On his recent tour of Latin America, President Obama announced $200 million in funding to combat drug trafficking and insecurity in the region.
After decades of violence, the opium poppy crop remains one of the few stable income sources for poor Afghan farmers, who cannot be effectively persuaded to end poppy cultivation without being granted alternative ways of making a living. In 2005, most farmers complied with the poppy ban set out by the Afghan government with the understanding that legal alternative means of survival would be provided. But when the promised aid failed to materialize, drug production quickly rose again.
From an online discussion at Development Gateway, Jul 2, 2007:
This interview with First Secretary M. Ashraf Haidari was originally published in International Affairs Journal, Vol. 3 No. 1, University of California at Davis.
Now is the time to finish the job we began in Afghanistan five years ago. Last year saw a desperate and vicious onslaught by a new generation of Taliban forces with enhanced logistical and financial support. More than 4,000 Afghans, many of them civilians, were killed in military actions in 2006, a three-fold increase from the previous year. Suicide attacks -- a phenomenon unknown to Afghans before 2002 -- jumped to 118 from 21.