Dinesh D’Souza, call your office: these farmers are being radicalized not by the immorality of American culture and the audacity of American writers who criticize the elements of Islam that give rise to violence and Islamic supremacism, but because they are being prevented from growing opium. Anti-drug American cultural conservatives who seek to ally with “traditional Muslims” like these, in accordance with D’Souza’s recommendation, would be in for a rude surprise.
By Tim Albone and Claire Billet in the TimesOnline, :
The tractor roared through the field, the plough tearing through the valuable poppy crop as the farmer looked on. A helicopter searched for insurgents and armed police stood watch, their uniforms replaced by robes and turbans to make them less conspicuous.
“The people are unhappy with this eradication campaign; if it goes on they will all join the Taleban,” Dilbar, a poppy farmer in Helmand province, told The Times.
The prospect of such a surge in Taleban numbers is bad news for the 5,000 British troops based in Helmand and 1,400 more heading there after the announcement by Des Browne, the Defence Secretary. The fiercest fighting since the Taleban were overthrown in 2001 came last year, with more than 4,000 people killed, and intelligence reports predict a new offensive this spring.
Poppy eradication is a double-edged sword. Afghanistan provides nine out of every ten grams of heroin sold on the streets of Britain, and officials are determined to stamp out poppy growth. Yet a successful campaign would leave many unemployed as potential recruits for the Taleban.
Afghans, ever the pragmatists, have devised their own solution. “We leave some fields without destroying the poppy so everyone is happy . . . otherwise they will go and support the Taleban,” said Aminullah, 21, a policeman with the eradication force in Helmand.