According to the New York Times, the Afghan government is dragging its feet in eradicating poppy cultivation:
United States officials warned this month in an internal memo that an American-financed poppy eradication program aimed at curtailing Afghanistan’s huge heroin trade had been ineffective, in part because President Hamid Karzai “has been unwilling to assert strong leadership.”
A cable sent on May 13 from the United States Embassy in Kabul, the Afghan capital, said that provincial officials and village elders had impeded destruction of significant poppy acreage and that top Afghan officials, including Mr. Karzai, had done little to overcome that resistance.
“Although President Karzai has been well aware of the difficulty in trying to implement an effective ground eradication program, he has been unwilling to assert strong leadership, even in his own province of Kandahar,” said the cable, which was drafted by embassy personnel involved in the anti-drug efforts, two American officials said.
Why should Afghans cease growing their main cash crop, particularly one that amounts to half their national income? Economically, it doesn’t make sense. They do so because the West, particularly the USA, insists on it; with thousands of US and other NATO troops in their country, and a weak central government in Kabul, the Afghans aren’t in a position to refuse.
But morally, what right has the West to insist on this? It’s true that the poppies make heroin which causes social problems, not least killing people, but it kills far fewer people than the tobacco grown in the USA, the grapes grown in France, or the hops and barley grown in Britain. The West’s policy of banning one drug while growing worse ones itself, purely because the West has a collective hang-up regarding some drugs, amounts to cultural imperialism.
Perhaps in an alternate Earth somewhere, Afghanistan has occupied the West, and is busily bullying Western countries into ceasing production of alcohol and tobacco. Perhaps, even, they are spraying pesticides from the air, with nary a thought to the health consequences for the people below.