The profitability of Opium production, and lack of government reaction, has caused the drug operations to spread from 18 provinces in 1999 to 28 (out of 32) this year. Farmers can make several times more money (than they can growing food crops) by cultivating poppies. The Taliban and al Qaeda offer their services as gunmen to protect the drug operations from government interference. Afghanistan is turning into another Colombia. But the drug trade in this part of the world can, and has been, suppressed. It was done in Pakistan in the 1990s, and later the Taliban took control. But the Afghan government needs the trained and reliable troops to do it, and these troops won't be available for another year or two.