Our generation came of age in era of digital war. Distant battles were fought on the sands of the fertile crescent and in the mountains of South Asia. Only news of their skyrocketing death counts awakening us to their toll. Without a draft or a combat home front, we, as a nation, have benefited from a largely removed experience of war.

Nevertheless, a newly politically active and largely Obama-crazed group of young American citizens have wiped their hands of these wars on terror, calling on the new President to withdraw immediately from the dual quagmires of Iraq and Afghanistan.

President Obama, however, seems to have a different agenda.

Among the two wars launched by the Bush administration, President Obama has displayed keen interest in continuing only one: the war in Afghanistan. In the name of protecting the United States from international terrorism, President Obama has underscored the necessity of securing Afghanistan and its volatile borders.

However, to do so requires recognition of Afghanistan’s history of falling prey to the machinations of the world’s superpowers, including our very own United States and the former USSR. In the past thirty years, the once bustling metropolitan hub of Kabul has decayed enormously as a result of foreign intervention, its barren ruins reigned by ruthless vigilantes, bewildered foreign troops, and a shaky government.

In other words, in order to prevent future terrorism in Afghanistan, President Obama must ensure the Afghani people are provided with adequate resources to rebuild their nation. One concern expressed by many of the world’s developed countries has been the massive outflow of opium from the war-torn country. Last year, a U.N. survey revealed sharp increases in Afghanistan’s opium production. The survey also unveiled a staggering statistic: 90% of the world’s opium continues to be cultivated within Afghani borders.

Unfortunately,  little attention has been paid to the struggles of Afghani farmers, and how close their livelihoods are tied to the Taliban’s growing drug trade.

Since the United States invaded Afghanistan, many Taliban fighters have fled to the country’s opium-rich Pashtun provinces. While the rest of Afghanistan benefits from the reconstruction and development efforts of NATO, the Taliban-dominated, Southern region of Afghanistan remains a different story. The Taliban has become closely entwined in the growing and selling of opium in these provinces. An alarming 85% of villages in these territories produce opium as a means of sustenance. Lamentably, these areas are also closed off to U.N. operations.

Not too long ago the Bush administration was debating aerial eradication of Afghanistan’s poppy fields. But to do so would be a brash and miscalculated act of insensitivity. 80% of Afghanistan’s work force are farmers. Afghani farmers choose to grow opium out of necessity. Opium farmers make 10 to 20 percent more money than their wheat-growing counterparts. And the crop is much more consistent–both the price and demand of this crop sees little fluctuation over time.

Most opium farmers enter the opium trade not for avaricious aspirations of wealth, but because they are provided little alternative. Many relent to opium growing after exhausting search for other means to fund family needs like a child’s wedding, food and clothing, or even basic medical care.

Beginning the process of growing opium is less painful than cultivating standard crops.  Opium traders are likely to provide loans to self-starting farmers. In a country where banks an other sources of finance are extremely difficult to come by, deciding to grow opium becomes a logical choice. Finally, many Afghanis, too poor to purchase their own land, make a living through sharecropping poppy fields. If Obama acts upon the eradication policy proposed by the Bush administration, he can expect droves of unemployed Afghani farmers turning to the Taliban for work and promise of stability.

In his inaugural speech, President Obama addressed the impoverished of the developing world:

“To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to the suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world’s resources without regard to effect.”

If President Obama wishes to stabilize Afghanistan, decrease opium cultivation, and defeat the Taliban, he should  hold true to the ideals of global development he professed in his inaugural address and work with Afghanistan’s farmers to secure and empower alternative means of survival.

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