How to Prevent Afghanistan from Becoming a Narco-State - Vartan Gregorian
Transforming Afghanistan's opium farming from heroin to morphine production would thwart the Taliban and stabilize the economy
By Vartan Gregorian, US News, May 2, 2012
Vartan Gregorian, president of Carnegie Corporation of New York and former president and professor emeritus of history at Brown University, is the author of The Emergence of Modern Afghanistan: Politics of Reform and Modernization 1880-1946, which will be reissued by Stanford University Press in November.
The year 2014 is fast approaching and with it, the end of the allied forces mission in Afghanistan. At the close of that year, as the president confirmed in his speech from Bagram Air Force Base, the United States and NATO will hand over responsibility for the security of Afghanistan to its own forces. But in the meantime, events on the ground are conspiring against some of the long-term policy goals that the allied nations who committed troops to Afghanistan had hoped would bring peace and stability to that country. The recent burning of Korans as well as the massacre of civilians, not to mention U.S. troops urinating on enemy corpses, posing for photos with the remains of Taliban insurgents, and similar inflammatory actions have contributed to anti-American and anti-NATO sentiments in Afghanistan as well as in neighboring countries, especially Pakistan. Given these developments, President Karzai, in an effort to prove to his nation that above all he is an Afghan nationalist and guardian of Afghan sovereignty, has often been forced to publicly distance himself from America, making demands such as that U.S. forces be confined to their bases and withdraw completely from Afghanistan by the end of 2013. In addition, the Afghan government has insisted that NATO forces stop "night raids" on suspected insurgents' hideouts, which recently resulted in an agreement that should give Afghan authorities veto over controversial special operations raids. For its part, the Pakistani parliament has demanded a halt to all U.S. drone flights over border areas that provide safe haven and supply routes for the Taliban. Further, the Pakistani government has blockaded the flow of U.S. materiel supplying American troops in Afghanistan.
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