Poppies and Tobacco

Through the course of the Iraq-Afghanistan War, Americans have become increasingly aware of the poppy industry and its effect on politics, crime and health across the globe. How, we wonder, could a country condone the cultivation of this crop, the source of 90% of the world's opium (and, by extension, its heroin). Yet, for the impoverished country of Afghanistan, the sale of this crop represents 30% of its gross national product.

In our wisdom, America has attempted to destroy the poppy fields or, when feasible, to encourage Afghan farmers to grow other crops (most of which increase the farmers' expenses and decrease their incomes). After all, some of the profits from this despicable market go to the Taliban, the primary enemies of peace and democracy in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, back home, we ignore (if not actively support) the tobacco farmers of the Bible Belt, even though this legal industry kills far more Americans than does the poppy trade of Afghanistan. It seems unlikely that we will ever encounter American warplanes strafing the fields of Kentucky. Morality is, in the end, dependent upon one's perspective.