The February issue of National Geographic takes an in-depth look at Afghanistan's opium wars. As writer Robert Draper discovers, a key step to securing peace in the war-torn country will be to wean Afghan farmers off growing poppies. As his report states:
The grim axiom defining today's Afghanistan, 85 percent of whose citizens are farmers, is that its economy relies on two dueling revenue streams. One flows from Western aid, in the hopes that the country will renounce the Taliban. The other flows from opium trafficking supported by the Taliban, which use the proceeds to fund attacks on Western troops. Only recently has the Afghan government seemed to take stock of the obvious: For the outside world's largesse to continue, the national economy's addiction to opium must end. The poppy fields must be destroyed. But just as this devoutly Muslim nation did not become the world's leading opium supplier overnight, uprooting Afghanistan's poppy mind-set promises to be a complicated endeavor.
Read the full article by Robert Draper in the February 2011 issue of National Geographic, available on newsstands now.
See the amazing full gallery by National Geographic's David Guttenfelder here.
View a small sample of images from Guttenfelder's gallery below. All photos and captions are shown courtesy of National Geographic.