April 24, 2007Foreign AffairsSecurity

Leading indicator of terrorism

Something fishy is happening in the world’s opium market

This is an archived blog post from The Acorn.

Bumper opium harvests in Afghanistan should lower the street price of drugs. Yet prices remain stable. Farmers are not stockpiling the drug, so unless there’s a huge—and unlikely—surge in demand somewhere in the world, it is the international drug traffickers that are hedging. Why worry?

Drug traffickers have a symbiotic relationship with insurgents and terrorist groups such as the Taliban and al-Qaeda. Instability makes opium cultivation possible; opium buys protection and pays for weapons and foot soldiers, and these in turn create an environment in which drug lords, insurgents and terrorists can operate with impunity.

Opium is the glue that holds this murky relationship together. If profits fall, these sinister forces have the most to lose. I suspect that the big traffickers are hoarding surplus opium as a hedge against future price shocks and as a source of funding for future terrorist attacks, in Afghanistan or elsewhere. [Antonio Maria Costa/WP]Meanwhile, NATO gets its public communications wrong.

Related Link: More painkillers, less killers — part of the the solution is in the economics.

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