U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke is congratulating himself for ending the Bush administration's expensive and ineffective opium poppy eradication program. Trouble is, he's decided to replace eradication with interdiction.
He's only switching to the same failed strategy that the rest of the drug war is based on. Interdiction doesn't stop the billion dollar drug trade right here in the U.S., where the government actually controls all the territory. What makes Holbrooke think that interdiction will work in Afghanistan when the coalition doesn't even have a presence in, let alone control of, most of the territory.
Here's how Holbrooke described a successful interdiction at a press briefing yesterday:
He says they used "modern technology" to find drug bazaars. Does he really mean drone strikes on drug markets? If so, that's going to work until the narcos give up on their farmer's markets and go underground like normal traffickers. Of course, that will be an impetus for defense contractors and private security firms to sell the U.S. another costly round of "modern technology" to detect slightly better-hidden dope.
And how long before a drone or an satellite image analyst mistakes a real farmer's market for a drug market?