With corruption crippling the U.S. Aghan effort
, President Hamid Karzai preparing to steal
his second election, and the CIA funneling money
to Karzai's drug-trading brother, Afghanistan's massive opium economy
is a frequent cause of concern. Most experts say it funds the Taliban and
undermines the legitimate government. But
liberal blogger Matthew Yglesias breaks with conventional wisdom
to say that while heroin's bad, the opium trade isn't as disastrous as we think.
Just because the opium trade is a major source of funding for the
Taliban doesn't mean that cracking down on "the opium trade" hurts the
Taliban. If I deal heroin here in DC than a crackdown on "heroin
dealers" would be bad for me if and only if I actually get shut down.
If, instead, the police shut down other heroin dealers then that's good for me, the cops have shut down the competition.
Now if what they're primarily concerned with is reducing the overall
quantity of heroin dealing in the city maybe they don't care about
that. But if the issue is that some heroin dealers are using drug money
to buy televisions and other heroin dealers are using drug money to buy
bombs that are used to kill Marines then it would make sense for the
cops to be a good deal more discriminating.
And this is basically the situation in Afghanistan.
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