The US withdrawal in Afghanistan has been welcomed across the political spectrum. A group of 25 US senators, almost all Democrats, released a letter urging President Barack Obama to carry out a “sizable and sustained reduction” of US forces in Afghanistan in July. The public at large also appears to support a withdrawal.
According to a BBC report on its global poll carried out alongside GlobeScan and PIPA (dated 22 June) over 40 per cent of the 24,000 people polled would like to see negotiations with the Taliban leading to their involvement in the Afghan government.
This indicates widespread international support for a US withdrawal. Despite this, dissenting voices cite a strong opposing argument which has been ignored by the international media.
It is this crop which enables them to feed their families…
Afghanistan’s poppy harvest, a lifeline for many farmers, is one of them. It is this crop which enables them to feed their families during unstable times. Poppy farmers often state that they do so for reasons beyond their control – reasons often related to the fragile economy.
NATO is has been conducting counter-narcotic campaigns throughout the Afghan campaign. The US withdrawal will have serious implications on the poppy situation in Afghanistan — implications which may make the entire campaign amount to nothing.
…there is no plan in place to hand over these operations to the Afghan government.
The case of two US counternarcotic compounds near Kabul airport and in Kunduz province is striking. The Afghan Assistance Report issued by the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations (issued 8 June) highlights the fact that there is no plan in place to hand over these operations to the Afghan government.
The report also states how the State Department’s Inspector General found that the department “has not addressed how and when the Afghan government will be able to assume control and sustain day-to-day operations”. This is clear evidence suggesting a path of action contrary to that expressed by the global public and a minority of US senators.
The Oval Office’s rush to withdraw contradicts the recommendations of hard fact. A group of 25 senators is hardly a representation of the 100-member US Senate.
…may also have discouraged farmers from planting poppy…
To top it off, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime issued a study of the Afghan opium situation earlier this year. The study states that “the coincidence of [foreign] troupes being present at planting time may also have discouraged farmers from planting poppy”.
With the international ‘War on Drugs’ claiming more lives than ever before and the global drug addiction problem reaching epidemic levels the hasty US withdrawal from Afghanistan appears to be reckless.
Obama’s desire to pull out before his next election is understandable. However the silent voice of the international drug-problem should not be ignored. Obama does so to his own ethical peril.
Image courtesy of Linus Bohman