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The drug warriors are, it seems, continuing in their efforts to sabotage the war against Islamic extremism in Afghanistan. The New York Times has the details

After the biggest opium harvest in Afghanistan’s history, American officials have renewed efforts to persuade the government here to begin spraying herbicide on opium poppies, and they have found some supporters within President Hamid Karzai’s administration, officials of both countries said. Since early this year, Mr. Karzai has repeatedly declared his opposition to spraying the poppy fields, whether by crop-dusting airplanes or by eradication teams on the ground. But Afghan officials said the Karzai administration is now re-evaluating that stance. Some proponents within the government are pushing a trial program of ground spraying that could begin before the harvest next spring…skeptics — who include American military and intelligence officials and European diplomats in Afghanistan — fear that any spraying of American-made chemicals over Afghan farms would be a boon to Taliban propagandists. Some of those officials say that the political cost could be especially high if the herbicide destroys food crops that farmers often plant alongside their poppies.
 The whole article, which is quite carefully balanced, is well worth a read. One thing that particularly caught my eye, however, was the fact that the new(ish) American ambassador to Kabul was previously the US ambassador to Colombia, something that leads Matt Yglesias to comment as follows: 
Our first post-war chargé d’affairs in Afghanistan was Ryan Crocker, a diplomat with previous experience in Iran, Qatar, Iraq, Lebanon, and Middle East policy in DC. Next we got Robert Finn who has a PhD. in Near Eastern studies and had worked in Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Pakistan, and Turkey. Then came Zalmay Khalilzad, also a specialist in the region and, indeed, someone who was born in Afghanistan. Then Ronald Neumann, also a near east specialist with experience all throughout the Muslim world. Now, though, our man in Kabul is William Wood someone who, though certainly qualified to be an ambassador, has no experience or expertise in the region. Instead, our top political official in the key battleground against al-Qaeda’s main qualification seems to be that his previous post was as ambassador to Colombia. Implicitly, then, the decision is being made to view Afghanistan primarily as a drug control problem rather than as a Taliban-and-al-Qaeda problem. That’s just crazy. 
Of course it’s ‘crazy’, Matt, it’s the drug war.


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