Opium production in Afghanistan
A March 20, 2010 front-page New York Times article began this way:
American Marines in an opium poppy field in Marja, Afghanistan, last month. The military decided not to destroy the fields. (NY Times)
The effort to win over Afghans on former Taliban turf in Marja has put American and NATO commanders in the unusual position of arguing against opium eradication,
Marjah is located Helmand providence, Afghanistan
pitting them against some Afghan officials who are pushing to destroy the harvest. [emphasis added]
According to a March 28, 2010 Reuters article:
U.S. Marines have advanced into one of the main opium-growing regions of Afghanistan’s Helmand Province since February, but have told villagers there they will not destroy the opium crop that is blossoming this month. [emphasis added]
Afghanistan grows the opium poppies that provide more than 90% of the world’s opium, the raw material for the production of heroin and yet the US has taken a firm position to NOT destroy the opium crop in Afghanistan.
Alfred McCoy, J.R.W. Smail Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, details what US leaders already know, the drug trade is at the center of war in Afghanistan:
US troops patroling opium fields in Afghaistan
After five years of the U.S. occupation, Afghanistan’s drug production had swelled to unprecedented proportions. In August 2007, the U.N. reported that the country’s record opium crop covered almost 500,000 acres, an area larger than all the coca fields in Latin America. From a modest 185 tons at the start of American intervention in 2001, Afghanistan now produced 8,200 tons of opium, a remarkable 53% of the country’s GDP and 93% of global heroin supply.
To serve and protect . . .
In this way, Afghanistan became the world’s first true “narco-state.” If a cocaine traffic that provided just 3% of Colombia’s GDP could bring in its wake endless violence and powerful cartels capable of corrupting that country’s government, then we can only imagine the consequences of Afghanistan’s dependence on opium for more than 50% of its entire economy.
. . . in Afghanistan
At a drug conference in Kabul this month, the head of Russia’s Federal Narcotics Service estimated the value of Afghanistan’s current opium crop at $65 billion. Only $500 million of that vast sum goes to Afghanistan’s farmers, $300 million to the Taliban guerrillas, and the $64 billion balance “to the drug mafia,” leaving ample funds to corrupt the Karzai government in a nation whose total GDP is only $10 billion. (Source)
British opium war with China
Opium enslaves people.
The British fought a war with China, the First Opium War of 1839-42, to ensure “free trade” and their “right” to sell opium to the Chinese. Why? Two reasons–profits and enslavement:
The First Opium War was attacked in the House of Commons by a newly elected young member of Parliament, William Ewart Gladstone, who wondered if there had ever been “a war more unjust in its origin, a war more calculated to cover this country with permanent disgrace, I do not know.” The war was denounced in Parliament as unjust and iniquitous. Gladstone criticized Lord Palmerston’s willingness to protect an infamous contraband traffic. Outrage was expressed by the public and the press in the United States and United Kingdom as there was a perception that British interests may well have been simply supporting the drugs trade 
Lin Zexu, Governor-General of Hunan and Hubei, recognizing the consequences of opium abuse, embarked on an anti-opium campaign in which 1,700 opium dealers were arrested and 2.6 million pounds of opium were confiscated and destroyed.
Lin Zexu is now viewed as a hero of 19th century China who stood against European imperialism and his likeness has been immortalized at various locations around the world.
See any parallels to US talk about “free trade” and US promise to “not destroy” the opium supply in Afghanistan? What happened to US commitment to “human rights” and “the war on drugs”?
Empire building is empire building.
What was wrong then is still wrong today.
Who’d dare take a stand against opium in 2010–like Lin Zexu did in 1839?
[silence . . . the sound of a moral and ethical vacuum]
- Notice the near zero opium production in 2001–while the Taliban were in power in Afghanistan.
In December 2009 US President Obama ordered an additional 30,000 US troops into Afghanistan.
In February-March 2010 US troops waged battle and won in Marjah, Afghanistan.
Marjah is located in the middle of the Helmand province in Afghanistan
The Helmand province produces 75% of Afghanistan’s opium and is now arguably the world capitol of opium production.
US military promises to NOT destroy the opium crop in Afghanistan.
March 10, 2010 Afghan President Hamid Karzai invites Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad to Kabul to give a fiery anti-American speech. (Source)
March 28, 2010 President Obama made a “secret” surprise visit to Afghanistan to meet with Afghan President Hamid Karzai to discuss “reducing corruption.” The Wall Street Journal dutifully reported that Obama wore a “bomber jacket” while giving a speech afterward, reminding us that, “America was ‘viciously attacked’ by people who ‘operate within the confines of Afghanistan.’” (Source)
- April 6, 2010 MSNBC runs article titled, “Karzai’s mental stability questioned,” which questions Afghan president Karzai’s ability to lead, saying he is “slightly off balance.”
- September 28, 2010: US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, formally permits opium farming in Afghanistan, “I hereby waive the requirement in section 7076(d)(2) of the Act to certify that the Government of Afghanistan is cooperating fully with United States efforts against the Taliban and Al Qaeda and to reduce poppy cultivation and illicit drug trafficking and report that it is vital to the national security interests of the United States to do so.” (Source: US Federal Register)
- February 11, 2011: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently told Mexican reporters that drugs like marijuana can never be legalized because “there is just too much money in it.” (Source) [But] Legalization would actually drive down drug prices, which would in turn be a disincentive to drug lords to continue selling as they currently do. . . There is so much money to be made by selling illegal drugs precisely because they are illegal.” . . . Others say that Clinton’s statements were not birthed out of ignorance, but rather are a clear reflection of central government efforts to protect the illegal drug market. A 1998 PBS investigation, for instance, explains how the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) relies on international drug dealing to finance covert operations, which offers insight into the real reasons for the war on drugs (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/front…). (Source)
Heroin trade routes
Opium growers in Afghanistan
Islam forbids the use of opium and heroin. The Taliban outlawed poppy growing in 2000. Drug lords in Afghanistan today justify the drug production by saying it’s not for domestic consumption but rather to sell abroad as part of a holy war against the West. (Source)
Opium poppies in Afghanistan
Bush and Obama and opium poppies in Afghanistan
A few related links (Source):
- Afghan farmers earn about $1 bln from opium- IMF
- Afghan Drug Trade Thrives With Involvement Of Government Officials
- Guns And Poppies
- Soldiering for the Smack House: U.S. Troops’ Unfortunate Role in Afghanistan
- Soldiering for the Smack House: U.S. Troops’ Unfortunate Role in Afghanistan
- Senate panel OKs $636 billion Pentagon budget with $128 billion for Iraq, Afghanistan wars
- Taliban Raise Poppy Production to a Record Again
- Eurasian “Diplomacy”: Russia and China confront the US and NATO over Afghanistan
- Obama OKs about 17,000 more troops for Afghanistan
- U.S. Militarism & the Drug Trade: the Afghan Dossier
- Obama Considers Expanding Afghanistan Troop Level To 400,000
- A Wake-Up Call From Afghanistan
The Proposed TAPI Pipeline–Another reason why the US is in Aghanistan:
TAPI Pipeline – The Real Reason for 4 More Years of War
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