Taliban does one thing right
Saturday, March 3, 2001
POST-INTELLIGENCER EDITORIAL BOARD
The time has come to recommend to the world one, just one, of the Taliban's practices.
Not the ban on Afghanistan widows working outside the home to support their families or the closure of public schools to girls. Or the beating of women for breaking the dress code or the stoning of women who stray from their marital vows.
It's not surprising the recommended practice has nothing to do with women, for whom the Taliban has had utter and shameless disregard since they came to control the country.
The ingenuity we laud is for nearly wiping out the country's opium fields in less than a year. Where once there were seas of poppies, destined to enslave peoples around the world, are fields of crops.
It would behoove the United States to learn what it can from the Taliban's admittedly strong-arm but not illegal tactics, as reported by the United Nations' Drug Control Program. Our country is at serious risk of becoming involved with Colombia's civil war through the instigation and bankrolling of an effort to reduce its coca (cocaine) crop.
The secret to success in Afghanistan was old-fashioned religion. The Taliban forbid poppy cultivation for followers of Islam, the country's only permissible religion. If "do as we say" wasn't enough, officials jailed farmers until they agreed to eradicate their crops and set fire to heroin labs. Village elders were threatened with arrest if they condoned the illegal crop.
Works for us. Growing the crop is illegal, and Afghanistan's traditional export has caused many people misery.
Something similar might work in Colombia, which is being fumigated to the hilt to destroy the coca crop. Besides pointing out to illiterate farmers that coca is illegal, the U.S.-Colombian anti-drug squads should help them plant different, a.k.a. legal, crops.
On the sad day the first public execution was carried out in Afghanistan under Taliban rule, a high-ranking official proclaimed, "Let this be a lesson for others." Virtually all Taliban lessons have been regressive; this one is not.
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