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


About The Author

I am a recently graduated history student from the University of Reading. Wanabee journalist and avid blog-reader.

2 Responses

  1. Svett

    Love the US, such a joke. There have been documentaries of the Afghan ‘Poppy Problem’ since 2007 (at least) but now that the US suddenly address the problem, everyone is all worried. It’s not the poppy crops that matter, it’s who buys them out.


  2. Rizwan Syed

    There have been a lot of documentaries and articles on the Afghan poppy problem. But the media has ignored the US Senate papers and the UN study (mentioned in the above article) which highlight how the Afghan counternarcotic campaign is not ready to be handed over to the Afghans and the consequences of troop withdrawal on that campaign.



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