Over the last year, I have repeatedly explained how the Bush Administration's ill-advised efforts to fight the War on Drugs in Afghanistan are undermining the War on Terror there by antagonizing Afghan civilians who depend on the drug trade for a living, and enabling the Taliban to finance itself through the illegal drug trade (see here, here, here, and here). And, lo and behold, the Administration might have finally learned its lesson on this crucial issue. According to this AP report, NATO forces are conducting a major offensive against Taliban forces in Western Afghanistan and are deliberately "turning a blind eye to the poppy crop, which supplies most of the world's opium and heroin, for fear of antagonizing the many farmers who depend on it."
I hasten to add that it is not clear whether this signals a general change in policy, or is just limited to this one operation. It is also not clear whether the policy change originated with the Bush Administration, other NATO allies, commanders on the ground or a combination of all three. I also do not mean to suggest that the policy was changed because of my criticisms. Far more likely that it was changed because key officials finally drew some long-overdue lessons from events on the ground.
Be that as it may, the new policy at least could not have been adopted without the Administration's consent. If they show equal willingness to learn from their other mistakes, we might actually win the war . . .