Danish Defense Minister Saren Gade gave a blunt evaluation of military operations in Afghanistan which he claimed focused too much on the negative and ignored positive needs. He is particularly upset at having Danish troops stationed in a poppy growing area where they devote time to eradicating opium. “It doesn’t solve anything to burn poppy fields and blow up factories if there isn’t anything else from which the poor souls can survive.” Gade argues there is need for serious action such as massive economic assistance to Afghanistan and that money “has to come from the UN or the EU.”
Gade makes a great deal of sense. The farmers of Afghanistan depend on poppy fields for economic survival. If western powers and the United States want an end to poppy fields there must be alternative economic avenues to offer the farmers. Rhetoric about harm caused by drugs will not fill the stomachs of Afghanistan children. It is fortunate someone like Gade is talking common sense about eradicating drugs without offering alternative economic opportunities.