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Tamar Hoffman

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If you had to select the driving factor of the turmoil in Afghanistan, what would it be?

The following is a quotation by an Afghan farmer from the recent National Geographic article "Afghanistan's Opium Wars." I found it extremely interesting, and was wondering what responses others might have to it.

"The Taliban aren't pressuring me [to grow opium]—that's just a story you see on TV. I grow for myself. I smuggle for myself. The Taliban are not the reason. Poverty is the reason. And they'll keep growing poppies here—unless they're forced not to. Force is the solution for everything. As we say in Pashtu, 'Power can flatten mountains.'"

If this is a widespread opinion among the Afghan people, we may be attacking the problem in Afghanistan in the completely wrong way. Maybe fighting poverty should be the priority, and drugs and terrorism with deteriorate once that is improved. A war on fighting poverty is far less risky than a war on terrorism, and may in fact be a more permanent solution. What do you think about this?

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    Mar 2 2011: So what do you think a solution to the problem is? Trying to go after poverty in the traditional sense (food, education, and other forms of aid) or chasing after the Taliban?

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