Lessons from the Golden Triangle

The IHT (and the NYT) ran an excellent article of the transformation of the “Notorious” Golden Triangle, around the shared border of Myanmar, Thailand and Laos, where economic opportunity and development has almost eradicated the opium production in the area, of which the diffusion effect of China’s economic growth played a pivoted role.

The story runs in parallel with that of Afghanistan. According to IHT, [the Golden Triangle], “once the epicenter of [opium] trade, has been eclipsed by Afghanistan. Despite the accusation that Al Qaeda has been funded by opium planting and that the American invasion would correct Afghanistan’s agricultural practice, the chart showed that Afghanistan’s opium production tripled under American control, while that of the Golden Triangle reduced by over 80%.

This is another proof of Barnett’s theory of “economic connectedness”. If situation in Iraq persist, and oil price drops, I am not surprised to see Iraqi start growing pop in large scale. On the other hand, if we encourage economic growth and integration of the neighboring country, i.e. Pakistan, UAE, Iran or China, the problem of Afghanistan and Iraq might disappear gradually without external inference. The question is then, of course, whether the power hungry are content to let things develop without interfering them. A good strategy means to achieve one’s objective with minimum cost, this is often in conflict with the lobby groups who wants business by forcing the governments to spend more, and in conflict with the power hungry who has the addiction to do more.