Cultivating Opium, Not DemocracyAfghanistan's crop 'has spread like wildfire. http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-oe-scheer23nov23.story
(hat tip to blondesense: http://blondesense.blogspot.com/2004/11/bitchin_23.html)
Liberal media are having a ball with this - ah, yet another example of misguided Bush policies.
Unfortunately, reality is somewhat different. The sharp rise in poppy production is a result of the state land buy-out program. It sure is misguided, but I am not sure who suggested it and implemented it - it may have been Karzai himself under the pressure from the "international community" to "do something" about the opium problem.
In short, LAST year, the Afghani government offered nice money for pieces of land used for growing the poppy. Many people saw this as a good opportunity and decided to cash in. When their neighbors saw the good fortune that befell them, they tried to sell their land to the government, too. Well, here's the catch. Karzai is only buying land if it is used for growing poppy. So, dissappointed Afghani peasants did the most rational thing in the world: they seeded their land with poppy in order to sell it THIS year. Of course, before they get the land sold and cash in the fortune, they will do the other most rational thing in the world: sell their crop first.