By H.A. Goodman
The national security goals of our country have been implemented in recent years by waging two decade-long insurgent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, nation building in those countries, and increased surveillance on our citizens. While 3,459 U.S. soldiers have died in the ongoing Afghanistan War, a total of 4,804 soldiers have given their lives in Iraq. Both wars have totaled one million injured soldiers according to Forbes, including traumatic brain injuries and PTSD that led directly to the recent VA Crisis. With the latest chaos in Iraq and potentially in the near future in Afghanistan, the flood of border children fleeing cartels and political mayhem, and the over $4 trillion borrowed for wars and occupying foreign lands, its time we reevaluate our national security objectives.
According to the White Houses June 2011 U.S. National Strategy for Counterterrorism, keeping the nation safe from terrorists is the top priority:
“As the President affirmed in his 2010 National Security Strategy, he bears no greater responsibility than ensuring the safety and security of the American people. This National Strategy for Counterterrorism sets out our approach to one of the Presidents top national security priorities: disrupting, dismantling, and eventually defeating al-Qaida and its affiliates and adherents to ensure the security of our citizens and interests.”
First, Afghanistan according to CBS News is the world’s largest supplier of cannabis and the plant is even more profitable to Afghan farmers than opium poppy. Considering that the U.S. is the largest consumer of marijuana in the world with 7.3 percent of Americans — around 23 million citizens — who regularly use marijuana, the Afghan economy and people could benefit greatly from supplying a legal cannabis industry.
American citizens spend $40.6 billion a year on marijuana, so a federally recognized marijuana industry in the U.S. could provide people in war-torn states like Afghanistan a needed source of legal income. This alone could mitigate instability, but the fact that terror groups are using profits from Afghanistan’s cannabis crop directly undermines our national security objectives. According to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, “Drug trafficking, the critical link between supply and demand, is fueling a global criminal enterprise valued in the hundreds of billions of dollars that poses a growing challenge to stability and security.” The report goes on to state that there are “more and more acts of violence, conflicts and terrorist activities fuelled by drug trafficking and organized crime.” Echoing this alarming fact, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon stated the Afghan illegal drug trade”is funding insurgency, international terrorism and wider destabilization.”