Tuesday, October 09, 2007



This same logic leads us to hold a war on terror rather than the radical Islamists themselves. But now these two semantically-challenged endeavors collide as we take failed tactics from a war we lost badly and use them to try and lose the current one. The reasons to stop this insane policy are many, but can't we just start out with the fact that it doesn't even work for the bad idea it is supposed to enact. We never stop the growing of drug crops, we simply make large numbers of poor farmers poorer and the bad guys richer. The reason given to justify this is that some of the proceeds from the drug trade support the Taliban. No kidding. Are we incapable of sublimating our Puritanical revulsion to drugs long enough to maybe buy the crop and make as much medicine as we need? We can burn the rest if that makes it any better, but the second we spray their lifeblood, they will donate their actual blood to the Taliban and AQ.


JohnM said...

Basic supply and demand surely disprove this idea.

Why is heroin grown? Because of demand from users.
Would that demand continue to exist if a new buyer came into the market? Yes
Total demand has grown because we have added the natural demand to our "medical" demand: would supply increase? Duh! yes.

It is the height of folly to assume that it is possible to corner the market in heroin. All that would happen is that more drugs would be grown to meet both the legal and illegal markets. We would have spent a lot of money and achieved nothing.

Peter Risdon said...

This was specifically about the Taliban, and rooted in the practicalities of the moment, so there's no question of trying to corner the market in drugs. The way to stop driving Afghan farmers into the arms of the Taliban is to stop burning their crops. That's it: a very narrowly defined point.

The wider drug problem can only be cured by legalisation, not by government procurement.

JohnM said...

Whether we burn their crops or not is a separate question. The quote repeats what is rapidly becoming a canard that somehow we can solve our drug problems by buying it all from the source and therefore stopping it arriving (illegally) on our streets. That's as equally short sighted as trying to win over Afghanistan by destroying their livelihoods.

Peter Risdon said...

No, the quote doesn't suggest this - nor have I ever seen your 'canard' suggested anywhere else.

It suggests that while drugs are illegal, we'd be better buying this particular crop and using it for medical purposes, or even destroying it.

You've misunderstood the argument; it's about the Taliban and Afghanistan, not about the drug problem except insofar as the attitudes forged in the stupid and futile war against drugs are fouling up the war against terrorism.

As I said, the drug problem (an entirely different problem to the one the quote is concerned with) will only be solved by legalisation.

JohnM said...

"nor have I ever seen your 'canard' suggested anywhere else."


For what it's worth I agree that burning the crop is counter productive.

I don't propose to repeat the supply and demand argument. I could understand someone taking that position if they came from a socialist perspective - they think the "size of the pie" is fixed, but I don't understand you - you're suppose to be a libertarian for god's sake.

I think we're even on the insults now :)

Peter Risdon said...

Insults? I am prone to intemperance, I know, but I haven't insulted you.

Tim makes the same argument as I do. The other forum... well, I can't be bothered to read it in full because it does seem to veer towards the argument you criticise - and I'm happy to stand beside you criticising it.

There's a difference between the specific case of Afghanistan - in which buying their crop is preferable to burning it - and the drug issue more generally - in which case legalisation is the answer.

I have the strange feeling we're in agreement.