08/11/16 – Counter-Drug Strategy

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President Barack Obama announced the situation in Afghanistan has grown “precarious.”

Here’s what’s happening behind the headlines.

The president sent more troops to Afghanistan. He’s stopped the withdrawal and will keep nearly 10,000 in-country. The once promising turn-around has become nightmarish. The Taliban now controls more territory than in 2001.

The Islamist group’s biggest source of revenue is narcotics. According to the UN, more opium is grown in Afghanistan than ever before. It produces 80% of the world supply. And it’s not just funding the Taliban. It corrupts every level of government.   Killing the drug trade wipes-out Taliban funding and gives Afghanistan a chance.

But the U.S. hasn’t issued a new counter-narcotics strategy for Afghanistan in a decade. And it shows. The U.S. has spent more than $8 billion in counter-drug efforts and Afghanistan’s drug trade is bigger than ever.  Fortunately, there was a slight decrease in opium production last year but this was due to drought conditions.

A State Department promise to issue a new strategy never materialized. This forced the Afghan government to go it alone and issue its own strategy. The failure of the U.S. to coordinate counter-drug efforts with Afghanistan officials suggests the partnership may be in deep trouble.

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