Sunday, January 7, 2007

Canada in Afghanistan

Canada's foreign policy and Afghanistan

Canada is fighting a counternarcotics campaign and a counterinsurgency in Afghanistan. Afghanistan currently supplies 90 per cent of the world's heroin. The narcotics Canada is fighting are a product of the occupation. They are a product of the alliances the Afghan government has made with the warlords who actually control the country. They are a product of the falsehood that Canada or the US is interested in 'development' in Afghanistan. They are a product of fact that the only hope a farmer has of earning a livelihood is through this crop that can bring a little cash (not a lot of cash, because no peasant ever gets rich from growing poppy in Afghanistan).

The Taliban, who ruled the country before the US and Canadian occupation, had banned the poppy. That's not praise for the Taliban - they also banned music, sports, television, and laughter. That isn't the solution to the problem either – it can't be a solution to the livelihood of 2.3 million people, the 10% of the Afghan population, who rely on the poppy. Solutions to drug problems are clear enough and well enough known – treatment for addiction, legalization and control, education and support for the agrarian economy. But the drug war is a useful pretext for other agendas. As for the counterinsurgency, the question of how Canada came to be involved in it is important. It is part of an evolution in Canadian foreign policy in recent years.

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