*Afghan Stability Advantage*
International crackdowns have failed – production is on the rise in Afghanistan
CIS Newswire, 5/8/13 (Russia’s military newswire, “Foreign military force in Afghanistan fails to make anti-terrorism breakthrough, drug trafficking grows – Putin”, Russia & CIS Military Newswire, 5/8/2013, Proquest, JKahn)
MOSCOW. May 8 (Interfax) - Russian President Vladimir Putin forecasts a possibility of exacerbation in Afghanistan and says the international forces have failed to make a breakthrough in fighting terrorism and drug trafficking in that country. "There are all grounds to believe we may face an exacerbated situation in Afghanistan in the near future," Putinsaid at a meeting of the Russian Security Council on Wednesday. "The foreign military contingent, whose backbone is American forces, has not achieved a breakthrough in the fight against terrorist and radical groups as yet; on the contrary, their activity has intensified lately," he stated. "Besides, there has been a drastic increase in drug production in Afghanistan and formation of stable drug trafficking routes to other countries; unfortunately, Russia is amongst them," the president remarked. "International terrorist and radical groups do not conceal their plans to export instability," Putin said. "They are trying to spread subversive activity into the territories of neighboring Central Asian countries and Russia," the president said. "Such developments are fraught with serious risks to us: an increase in drug trafficking and transboundary crime, uncontrolled flows of refugees, migrants, and fundamentalism," he stressed. The international forces "have done practically nothing to eradicate drug production in Afghanistan," the president said. "Alas, Russian proposals to the effect have been neglected," he said. Meanwhile, the 2014 will be difficult for Afghanistan, Putin said. He said that the country would have presidential and provincial elections and, "what is especially important, the bulk of the foreign military contingent will be pulled out next year."
Drugs cause Afghan instability – fund the Taliban
Inkster, 12 (Nigel, Director of Transnational Threats and Political Risk at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, “Drugs: A war lost in Afghanistan”, Foreign Policy, 5/29/2012, http://afpak.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2012/05/29/drugs_a_war_lost_in_afghanistan, JKahn)
The May 20 NATO summit in Chicago was dominated by the issue of Afghanistan. Amidst all the talk about withdrawing international combat troops by 2014, funding the Afghan National Security Forces beyond 2014, and a doubtful political settlement with the Taliban, one subject was absent from the formal agenda: drugs. Yet in few other countries is the drugs trade so entrenched as it is in Afghanistan. Accounting for between one-quarter and one-third of the national economy, it is an integral part of the insecurity blighting Afghan life for the past 30 years. Debate may continue for years as to whether the Western intervention in Afghanistan has made the world safer or more insecure in the post-9/11 era. But it has not only done nothing to reduce global supplies of illicit opium; rather, it has made the problem worse. The international drugs-control regime, in place since the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs came into effect, rests on prohibiting use in consumer countries and reducing supply in producer states. In Afghanistan, the source of around 60 per cent of the planet's illicit opium and 85 per cent of heroin, the latter objective may never be achieved to any meaningful degree. The boom years for Afghan poppy cultivation began in the 1970s, thanks to political instability in Southeast Asia's fertile 'Golden Triangle' and bans on the crop in neighbouring Iran and Pakistan. The Soviet invasion in late 1979 gave local warlords an incentive to plant opium poppies to fund their insurgency against Moscow. In the three decades since, with few other sources of income, opium production has come to provide for up to half a million Afghan households. The poppy is a hardy, drought-resistant plant, much easier for farmers to grow than saffron and more profitable than wheat. Both have been offered as alternative crops, but with only limited take-up. The criminal networks that have sprung up around the drugs trade provide farmers with seeds, fertiliser and cash loans; in short they offer an alternative welfare system. The principal growing regions, the southern Pashtun-dominated provinces of Helmand and Kandahar, are also Taliban strongholds. For all these reasons, NATO efforts to eradicate opium - either by aerial spraying or manually- have alienated the population. Indeed, they have often had to be abandoned in the face of popular resistance. Crop disease did more to reduce opium production in 2010 than NATO's counter-narcotics strategy. The United Nations recently reported there had been a 61 percent rebound in opium production in 2011, and prices were soaring. This is a worrying trend, which seems set to continue after NATO troops leave. Drug seizures, while rising, still account for less than 5% of opium produced. As a general rule, the United Nations estimates, law-enforcement agencies need to interdict about 70% of supplies to make the drugs trade less financially attractive to traffickers and dealers. In any circumstances, this is an extremely challenging objective. In the large swathes of Afghanistan where the central government and security forces wield no control, it is completely unrealistic. Meanwhile, no major trafficker has yet successfully been prosecuted due to a widespread culture of impunity. Alternative approaches have been proposed. Most recently, in May 2012, Tajik Interior Minister Ramazon Rakhimov proposed that opium should be purchased directly from Afghan farmers to either be used in the pharmaceutical industry or to be destroyed. He also called on other countries to do the same in a move he deemed essential to fight drug trafficking and narcotics-fuelled terrorism. But this option was tried in 2002 when the United Kingdom had the lead on narcotics reduction, and had to be abandoned in the face of evidence that the purchasing programme constituted a perverse incentive to increase production. Licit production of opium for medical purposes may be a long-term option for Afghanistan, but not while current conditions of high insecurity and pervasive corruption persist. In the West, the drugs scourge is mostly thought about in terms of the lives lost, opportunities wasted and the social disruption created through addiction. In fragile and impoverished nations such as Afghanistan, drugs create a shadow state, fuelling institutional corruption, instability, violence and human misery. The Taliban, which banned the planting of opium in 2001, was deriving an estimated U.S. $125 million per year from the business by 2009. It has been an equally important revenue stream for former warlords whose inclusion in the administration of President Hamid Karzai NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) has done little to oppose. Such individuals have a powerful vested interest in state weakness to the obvious detriment of good governance and institution-building. And all these actors are likely to maximise revenues from opium production in the run-up to the 2014 NATO/ISAF drawdown to hedge against an uncertain future. A trade in which so many have vested interests will never be unwound simply or swiftly. What drives it is its huge profitability, a consequence of continuing Western demand. No-one can confidently predict the consequences of changing the drugs prohibition regime. The current approach has not achieved the 1961 Single Convention's objectives. But has had the unintended consequence of perpetuating and increasing corruption and instability in parts of the world least equipped to deal with the consequences. Perhaps our collective experience in Afghanistan should serve as the basis for a serious rethink of global drugs policy? This would involve a cost/benefit analysis of current policies, scenario planning of the impact of alternative approaches and a much greater focus on demand reduction in consumer states. The issue of narcotics needs to be taken out of the silo it currently inhabits and looked at in the wider context of international security and development.
Instability in Afghanistan creates a nuclear crisis
Rubin, 11 (Joel, Director of Policy and Government Affairs, Ploughshares Fund, former congressional aide and diplomat, fellow at the State Department in both Near Eastern Affairs and Political-Military Affairs, Master’s degree in Public Policy and Business Administration from Carnegie Mellon University and a Bachelor’s degree in Politics from Brandeis University, Huffington Post, 77/2011, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/joel-rubin/middle-east-nuclear-threat_b_891178.html, JKahn)
The national security calculus of keeping U.S. forces in Afghanistan has shifted. Any gains that we made from keeping 100,000 American soldiers in harm's way are now questionable, especially since al Qaeda has been dealt a significant blow with the killing of Osama bin Laden. President Obama's decision to end the surge by late next year only reinforces this reality. Yet many of the underlying sources of conflict and tension in South and Central Asia will remain after an American withdrawal. In a region that has deep experience on nuclear matters -- with nuclear aspirant Iran bordering Afghanistan on one side and nuclear-armed Pakistan and India on the other -- the United States must take into account the potential for regional nuclear insecurity caused by a poorly executed drawdown in Afghanistan. As much as we may like to, we can't just cut and run. So as the United States draws down its forces, we must take care to leave stable systems and relationships in place; failure to do so could exacerbate historic regional tensions and potentially create new national security risks. It is therefore essential that Washington policymakers create a comprehensive nuclear security strategy for the region as part of its Afghanistan withdrawal plans that lays the groundwork for regional stability. We have only to look to our recent history in the region to understand the importance of this approach. In the 1980s, the U.S. supported the Mujahedeen against the Soviet Union. When that conflict ended, we withdrew, only to see the rise of al Qaeda -- and its resultant international terrorism -- in the 1990s because we didn't pull out responsibly from Afghanistan. Our choices now in Afghanistan will determine the shape of our security challenges in the region for the foreseeable future. And we can't afford for nuclear weapons to become to South and Central Asia in the 21st century what al Qaeda was in the 1990s to Afghanistan. To avoid such an outcome, several key objectives must be included in any Afghanistan withdrawal plan. First, current levels of regional insecurity -- which already are extremely high -- will continue to drive tensions, and quite possibly conflict, amongst the regional powers. Therefore, we must ensure the implementation of a regional approach to military withdrawal. These efforts must bring all relevant regional players to the table, particularly the nuclear and potentially nuclear states. Iran and all the countries bordering Afghanistan must be part of this discussion. Second, the United States must be mindful to not leave a governance vacuum inside Afghanistan. While it is clear that the current counter-insurgency policy being pursued in Afghanistan is not working at a pace that meets either Western or Afghan aspirations, it is still essential that Afghanistan not be allowed to implode. We do not need 100,000 troops to do this, and as the Afghanistan Study Group has recommended, credible political negotiations that emphasize power-sharing and political reconciliation must take place to keep the country intact while the United States moves out. Third, while the rationale for our presence in Afghanistan -- to defeat al Qaeda -- has dissipated, a major security concern justifying our continued involvement in the region -- potential nuclear conflict between India and Pakistan -- will remain and may actually rise in importance. It is crucial that we keep a particularly close eye on these programs to ensure that all is done to prevent the illicit transfer or ill-use of nuclear weapons. Regardless of American troop levels in Afghanistan, the U.S. must maximize its military and intelligence relationships with these countries to continue to both understand their nuclear intentions and help prevent potential conflict. We must avoid a situation where any minor misunderstanding or even terrorist act, as happened in Mumbai in 2008, does not set off escalating tensions that lead to a nuclear exchange. Ultimately, the U.S. will one day leave Afghanistan -- and it may be sooner than anyone expects. The key here is to leave in a way that promotes regional stability and cooperation, not a power vacuum that could foster proxy conflicts. To ensure that our security interests are protected and that the region does not get sucked in to a new level of insecurity and tension, a comprehensive strategy to enhance regional security, maintain a stable Afghanistan, and keep a watchful eye on Pakistan and India is essential. Taking such steps will help us to depart Afghanistan in a responsible manner that protects our security interests, while not exacerbating the deep strategic insecurities of a region that has the greatest risk of arms races and nuclear conflict in the world.