America Can't Win the Drug War in Afghanistan

An Afghan girl gathers raw opium on a poppy field on the outskirts of Jalalabad April 28, 2015. REUTERS/Parwiz

Twenty-four of Afghanistan's thirty-four provinces now are directly involved in illicit drug production.

The absurdity of the Afghan mission was highlighted in late November when B-52 bombers and an F-22 fighter launched attacks on opium labs. Both were weapons systems designed to protect core American security interests against dangerous adversaries. They were never intended to be part of a quixotic crusade to blast drug trafficking targets in rural Afghanistan. Misusing tax dollars and expensive military hardware for such purposes would be humorous if it were not so pathetic.

Escalating the drug war in Afghanistan is just one more indicator of the bankruptcy of Washington’s overall policy regarding that country. President Trump should return to the negative opinion that he expressed about the Afghan intervention during his bid for the presidency. He foolishly allowed Secretary of Defense James Mattis and other advocates of the existing policy to dissuade him from withdrawing U.S. troops and terminating the futile mission. The latest data on the drug trade and its lucrative financial benefits for both sides in the civil war gives Trump another chance to correct his error and end the folly of Washington’s Afghan crusade.

Ted Galen Carpenter, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and a contributing editor at the National Interest, is the author of ten books, including several books on the war on drugs. He is also the author of more than seven hundred articles and policy studies on international affairs.

Image: An Afghan girl gathers raw opium on a poppy field on the outskirts of Jalalabad April 28, 2015. REUTERS/Parwiz

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