In 2000, the Taliban banned opium production in Afghanistan, as it became illegal to grow poppies.
Any farmer caught cultivating the cash crop would be severely punished--probably by death. By the middle of 2001, there was basically no opium produced in Afghanistan, though that nation usually led the world in production of the drug. However, since the U.S. led invasion, the poppy fields are growing again and the opium trade is flourishing as never before. Apparently, Bush’s idea of a ‘War on Terror’ is making the world safe for the narcotics trade.
The Taliban had relied on opium sales to finance their operations until July 2000. It was then that the regime’s leader Mullah Mohammed Omar issued a ban on the drug trade, because he claimed that it conflicted with Islamic law. However, it is more likely that the move was made to boost the slumping prices of opium across Europe, after Afghanistan had produced an all-time high of 4,600 tons in 1999. Less than a year later, a U.N. delegation visited the areas of the country where poppies were traditionally grown and found nothing. The head of the U.N. Drug Control Program said: “There are no poppies. It’s amazing.”
By January 2002, the U.S. military had the Taliban on the run and the poppy fields had returned in earnest. At the same time, the U.S. and NATO nations signed a worldwide ban on opium production. The U.N. released a report on the return of the Afghan opium trade which noted: “Afghanistan has been the main source of illicit opium: 70 percent of global illicit opium production in 2000 and up to 90 percent of heroin in European drug markets originated from Afghanistan.”
The report went on to say: “There are reliable indications that opium cultivation has resumed since October 2001 in some areas (such as the southern provinces Uruzgan, Helmand, Nangarhar, and Kandahar), following the effective implementation of the Taliban ban on cultivation in 2001, not only because of the breakdown in law and order, but also because the farmers are desperate to find a means of survival following the prolonged drought.”
Despite the Bush administration claims at the time that the international drug trade helped finance terrorism, a blind-eye was turned to the activities of the Afghan warlords and the Pashtun mafia. The U.S. and our NATO partners ignored the re-introduction of the poppy crops and allowed opium production to flourish.
The U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime released a report this week which found that during 2006, opium production increased by 50 percent from the previous year. Afghanistan produced a record of 6,700 tons last year and was responsible for 92 percent of the world’s opium production. This rise corresponds with the dramatic fall of Southeast Asia’s opium production, in contrast that region only produced 370 tons last year.
It has been reported that the CIA is involved in Afghanistan’s opium production, or at least protecting it. It is widely known that the Pakistani Intelligence Service is terribly corrupt and profits directly from the sale of opium. For whatever it’s worth, the CIA relies on the Pakistanis for intelligence regarding the insurgent Taliban as well as al Qaeda. Given the history and immorality of the CIA, it is certainly no stretch to believe that the agency is complicit.
In March 2002, a U.S. foreign intelligence official speaking on the condition of anonymity, reminded a reporter with NewsMax.com of the CIA’s record of involvement with the international drug trade. The official said: “The CIA did almost the identical thing during the Vietnam War, which had catastrophic consequences--the increase in the heroin trade in the USA beginning in the 1970’s is directly attributable to the CIA. The CIA has been complicit in the global drug trade for years, so I guess they just want to carry on their favorite business.”
He went on to say: “The sole reason why organized crime groups and terrorists have the power that they do is all because of drug trafficking. Like the old saying, ‘those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.’”
Osama bin Laden got away and President Bush does not even mention his name anymore. The Taliban has become stronger once again in Afghanistan. Terrorists, mafia, and warlords are profiting from bumper opium crops.To date, 407 American young men have lost their lives in Afghanistan...So what was the point?
Afghanistan could now fairly be described as a ‘narco-state’ and the U.S. military has played a large role in that nation’s illicit evolution. Have we sent our young men to die in Afghanistan to protect or possibly monopolize the opium trade?
I find it curious that Bush sends Border Patrol agents to prison for pursuing Mexican drug smugglers, while also effectively using our military to protect opium production in Afghanistan...Notice a pattern?