Since beginning work last month, the country's Central Poppy Eradication Force, an American-trained group, has destroyed less than 250 acres, according to the two American officials. Its original goal was to eradicate 37,000 acres, but that target has recently been reduced to 17,000 acres. With the poppy harvest already under way, the actual eradication levels will probably be far lower, the American officials said.
The [State Department's] annual drug-trafficking report, released in March, warned that Afghanistan was "on the verge of becoming a narcotics state."
With opium accounting for as much as 60 percent of GDP, Afghanistan seems to be past that verge. A serious attempt to reverse the situation would cause severe economic dislocation, alienate farmers, ignite widespread protests, and compromise the war on terrorism. And to what end? As the experience with coca in South America (not to mention the experience with opium in Turkey, India, Pakistan, Thailand, Laos, and Burma) has shown, drug production can be pushed around, but it cannot be eliminated.