Opium Poppy Plant
Aziza “unwraps [opium], breaking off a small chunk as if it were chocolate, and feeds it to four-year-old son, Omaidullah. It's his breakfast -- a lump of pure opium” (Damon).  The quote from the article we read about the civilian environment still gives me the chills.  Whole communities of people in Afghanistan have developed a culture that has led to generations of drug addiction.  Addicted mothers addict their children who start an already challenging life under the influence of drugs.  According to the article, this problem affects over one million Afghani’s.

When I read this article and discussed it with students, what struck me the most was the inability to foresee all consequences when planning a war.  No matter how well-trained or experienced war planners are, it’s impossible to think of everything.  Military resources and strategy often blind military planners to the social consequences of war.  This is understandable because one must win the war militarily before winning the peace.  When the U.S. and NATO committed to eliminating Al Qaeda and removing the Taliban from power, I wonder how much they considered issues they would have to address after accomplishing their military objectives like rampant drug abuse, addiction and trafficking.  Tackling this problem will be crucial to establish security and stability in Afghanistan’s future.

The U.S. and many NATO countries have drug problems of their own at home that they have struggled to confront.  How do you solve a terribly complex problem like this in someone else’s country?  When more than one million people are addicted to drugs and thousands more profit and gain power from the drug trade, it will take a generation to see significant progress in this area.  Will the international community endure a generation-long commitment to Afghanistan?  

James Brightman

Works Cited:

Damon, Arwa. "Afghan infants fed pure opium ." CNN.com . N.p., 24 Jan. 2011. Web. 16 May 2011. <http://edition.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/asiapcf/01/20/afghan.opium.kids/index.html>.

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