Sunday, 20 January 2008

Does the US Prefer Terrorism to Treating Addicts?

I was reading Tim Dunlop's Blogocracy and their was a pointer to a story about Iraqi farmers putting in opium poppy fields. Of course I had to add my comment:

The US sure are good at war - Vietnam war, Afghan war, Iraqi war, war on terror and my fav ... the war on drugs.

The only reason these opium poppies have a value is because of drug prohibition that is so strongly enforced by the US via the 'War on Drugs'. An estimated $400 billion is made by drug criminals each year. Put that in prospective - 8% of world trade is illicit drugs and over the next 10 years, 4 trillion dollars will be made by organised crime illegally selling drugs. A lot of money available to be used by terrorists if so pursued.

I wonder if the brains trust in Washington can get past their moral convictions and weigh up whether treating drugs addicts is more important than terrorism. The problem and the solution is simple. Give heroin addicts prescription heroin and organised crime selling heroin will go out of business. No more opium fields, no more opium drug lords, no more sqillions of dollars available for terrorists. What really amazes me is that other countries do it now yet it's the US who keep these drugs lords in business. Canada, England, Switzerland, Netherlands, Spain, Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany give their long term addicts prescription heroin. Even Iran has taken on board help from the Swiss and might be prescribing heroin as a treatment. Results for addicts health and social integration has been stunning and drug related crime has dropped significantly. Also, dealers are losing their main cliental to prescription heroin so they stop supplying it ... Result: very few new users and no profits for drug lords. So what's the choice ... Treatment or Terrorism?

The idea that funding for terrorism from opium can be slowed or even halted must be tempting? Yet why do they stick to their unrealistic drug policies so tightly but demand the world follow their lead on fighting terrorism ... at any cost. The US have a reputation for avoiding the root a problem and use words like 'democracy', 'freedom' and 'liberty' to justify their often controversial actions.

The lesson learnt from Afghanistan poppy fields and the attempted annihilation of cocaine plantations in Latin America is that it can't be stopped. No amount of money or intervention will do it. Crops just move from one place to the next. Turning these poppy fields in Iraq & Afghanistan into a legitimate business for the worlds addicts would create economic growth for the farmers and related industries. It would earn tax revenue and help stabilise the area with a unique product that doesn't have a huge value on the black market. That would win more hearts & minds for the US than burning down their farms, that I am sure of. 

The 'War on Drugs' is hindering the 'War on Terror'. The question is, which is the more important?.

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