The Green Party position on Afghanistan is quite clear: we are against the power of the military-industrial complex, and we always doubt that violence and wars are a useful tool of policy, when all considerations are taken into account. We were against the invasion of Afghanistan, and if it were up to us, we would withdraw our troops immediately and unconditionally. However, given the real-politik of the present position, we can only advise Government on the best way to extricate themselves from the position in which they have foolishly placed our troops.
We accept that the government is not going to perform an immediate and unconditional withdrawal. Their plan, insofar as such may exist, is to train up the Afghan army, and to build up the competence of the Afghan government institutions until they can take over the security of the country. The latest wheeze is to try to bribe moderate Taliban to stop fighting.
Our opponents will argue that immediate withdrawal will lead to the collapse of the Afghan state, effectively handing it back to the Taliban, with all that means in terms of religious freedom, human rights, the position of women, flying kites, stoning, amputations &c. There is also the point that the lives of all those British soldiers would have been sacrificed in vain.
Our counter to this is that, given the present situation, the best way to achieve success, both in terms of getting our troops out with honour and to stabilise the Afghan state with some semblance of democracy, is to buy the opium and use it to relieve the agony of 6,000,000 people who die in Africa each year with untreated terminal pain. Most here will have experienced a friend or relative die of cancer in the UK, aided by morphine. Just imagine what that process would be like without any painkillers.
The advantage of the Opium Purchase policy is:
1. Win hearts and minds of the farmers
2. Pull the financial rug out from under the Taliban
3. Greatly reduce the damage done to our society by illicit morphine
4. Relieve the suffering of terminal cancer in Africa
5. Reduce corruption in Afghanistan
6. Enable our troops to come home with honour.
This policy is endorsed not just by the Green Party of England & Wales, The European Greens, the Afghan Red Crescent, the Italian Red Cross, the European Parliament, the International Council on Security and Development, but most recently a serving US army officer, which shows that it is gaining ground.
The central objection to this argument, presented by the Foreign Office to Caroline Lucas in correspondence, is that the mechanisms to buy and process the opium are not in place. This begs the question of why we do not use a fraction of the money being spent on the military effort to put them in place? That is what government is for, and it is what a Green Party government would do.