Opium poses an existential threat to Afghanistan’s reconstruction: it feeds a systemic corruption and undermines governance, provides fresh funds to insurgents and criminal groups, and locks entire sections of the rural population in poverty. But to effectively tackle a problem of this scale, a counter-narcotics strategy requires functional institutions, relative government control, and a coherent reconstruction strategy. Today Afghanistan meets none of those conditions. Yet the opium problem is not going to go away without any sustained policy pressure. This is the close-to-impossible drugs policy dilemma that the international community and the Afghan people face.

This article originally appeared in LSE IDEAS Strategic Update. To read the article in full, please click here.