...Having underestimated Afghanistan's narcotics problem since 2001, the international community now recognizes the connection between drugs and terrorism, and believes that urgent action is essential. But lessons from other nations show that today's quick wins can sow the seeds of future poppy harvests. Afghanistan's war on drugs will not be won quickly - nor can it be won without economic growth and political stability. Crop destruction "victories" will prove pyrrhic if Afghan farmers cannot find other ways to make a living and do not understand why drugs threaten their future.
Today, many Afghans believe that it is not drugs, but an ill-conceived war on drugs that threatens their economy and nascent democracy. The drug trade is worth more than $2.8 billion to our economy - more than a third of our gross domestic product. Destroying that trade without offering our farmers a genuine alternative livelihood has the potential to undo the embryonic economic gains of the past three years. The likely results would be widespread impoverishment, inflation, currency fluctuations and capital flight....