Afghan President Hamid Karazai broke it down today for a White House press conference, noting, “The death and destruction [in Afghanistan] were “in reality not related to the Newsweek story…they were more against the elections in Afghanistan, they were more against the progress in Afghanistan, they were more against the strategic partnership with the United States.” In TV interviews, Karzai went on to reject a State Department memo released on Sunday, which blamed the slow phasing out of poppy crops on Karzai’s unwillingness to “assert strong leadership.”
Instead, Karzai, who has declared a jihad against opium, blamed Western countries for a lack of necessary support. “The international community must come and provide an alternative livelihood to the Afghan people, which they have not done so far,” Karzai told CNN. He makes a good point.Without alternatives, Afghan farmers cannot afford to give up the production of poppies. There is about $300 million in international funds pledged to eradicate poppies, but only about a third of this amount to establish alternative livelihoods for Afghans.