Dismantling the Afghan Opiate economy a cultural and historical policy assessment, with policy recommendations
Byrom, Christopher L.
Johnson, Thomas H.
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This thesis applies lessons drawn from a historical-cultural analysis of rural power structures in Afghanistan to understand the nature of the threat posed by that country's opiate economy and to assess the counter-narcotics policies of the United Kingdom, the Government(s) of Afghanistan, and the United States. It argues that that the opiate economy should be considered an Afghan-specific problem involving narcotics, not a "drug war" problem involving Afghanistan. Specific lessons are taken from a chapter dedicated to Afghan culture, history, and rural power structures, and applied in chapters analyzing the opiate economy and current counter-narcotics policies. Several insights that are critical to sound policy, and that are not found in existing literature, are developed. Overall, the current policy emphasis on aggressive eradication of opium poppy is incongruent with local cultural and political realities and undermines central government stability. Counter-narcotics policy makers should adopt a roll-back strategy, eliminating cultivation from minor-cultivation provinces first for democraticgovernance, cultural, and counter-narcotics reasons. Counter-trafficking should be prioritized over eradication efforts and should particularly target anti-government forces, many of which are legacy groups of the anti-Soviet jihad and are not accountable to or culturally integral to rural society.
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