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Letter: A troubling response to a terrible epidemic

A troubling response to a terrible epidemic

Hardly a day passes when the news about heroin addiction and its deadly consequences does not make the headlines. It would appear that overdoses are approaching epidemic levels. As frightening as this trend is, our response to it is even more troubling.

We currently have nearly 10,000 troops in Afghanistan, the country that grows the poppies that become the opium that becomes heroin. We have spent roughly $9 billion in that country on counter-narcotics programs, but Afghanistan is now known to produce 90 percent of the world’s opium poppy. Half a million acres – the equivalent of 400,000 football fields – are growing poppies. So prevalent is poppy growing that it is firmly embedded in the Afghan economy.

So, as heroin addiction takes its terrible toll, shouldn’t we be asking ourselves: What are our troops doing in a country such as this, a nation that contributes so little and ruins so much? What exactly are the troops “protecting”?

Steve Banko