COLUMN: Taliban benefits from sale of opium

It has been long known to many economists and some libertarians and liberals that the "war on drugs" is not only futile, but that it has drawbacks in other areas. A clear instance of this is the relationship between crimes, gang activity and crackdowns on the illicit drug trade.

In simple economics, decreased supply leads to increased prices. Therefore, as law enforcement officials seize more shipments of drugs and make the drug trade more difficult and costly, the prices of drugs increase. These price increases translate into more crimes committed by addicts trying to get money for their expensive habit and more gangs and gang activity as gang territories where drugs are sold become more valuable.

Recently, Russian and other international anti-drug officials stated that the Taliban profits greatly from the sale of opium, so that through them their hired henchmen of al-Qaeda benefit indirectly.

This means that if heroin prices increase in countries such as Russia and in Europe where Afghan opium is used to make nearly all of heroin sold, the Taliban and al-Qaeda enjoy greater profits.

Afghanistan is the world's largest opium producer, and as the United States cracks down on heroin shipments from South America and Mexico, the price for heroin produced from Afghan opium rises. Once again, this means the Taliban and its allies benefit.

So, what has our policy or "war" on drugs gotten us in addition to countless fiascoes in our own country and in South America?

It seems that it has strengthened the enemy that we now find ourselves fighting on a different front: an unanticipated, but logical, consequence to add to the list of negatives in the "war on drugs."

Write to Aaron at adkeller@bsu.edu


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