Thursday, January 27, 2011

Can free markets save Afghanistan?

There's a suggestion of the sort in Sen. Marco Rubio's piece over at National Review:

And if their people are to establish businesses and attract long-term economic development investments that help wean them off the opium trade, Afghanistan must become a country where basic property and commercial laws are respected and enforced.

Now, Rubio is a bit of a Tea Party darling, but this is the first time I've heard hint of anybody trying to apply Tea Party philosophy to the war in Afghanistan. And I'd really like to see him expand on this theme. My initial reaction is that lots of Afghans are, in fact, responding to market forces by growing the opium that the West uses-slash-finds-so-problematic. Beyond that, though, I've not really heard that property right issues are a particular problem in a land where the central government is corrupt and ineffective. If there's a substantive critique to be made along these lines, I'd really be interested in seeing it. Admittedly, I suspect it's a throwaway line that doesn't actually mean anything.

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