More than decade since the US invaded Afghanistan to destroy Al Qaeda and punish the Taliban, the US and NATO occupation drags on, even as the war begins to wind down. And Afghanistan's status as the world's number one opium poppy producer remains unchallenged.
Afghan opium production started with the US-backed overthrow of the secular Afghan Government in 1978 and grew steadily with the consequent civil war, the Russian invasion and the US-backed religious-based resistance.
Afghan opium production increased further after the departure of the Russians. However in 2000, several years after they captured Kabul, the Taliban banned opium production, slashing Afghan opium production from about 76% of word production in 2000 to 6% in 2001.
In the aftermath of the 2001 US bombing of Afghanistan, the British government was entrusted by the leading industrial nations to carry out a drug eradication program, which would, theoretically, allow Afghan farmers to get out of poppy cultivation and switch to alternative crops. The British were working in close liaison with the US DEA's "Operation Containment" out of Kabul.
The British crop eradication program was an apparent smokescreen, considering that since October 2001, opium poppy cultivation has flourished. The presence of occupation forces in Afghanistan did not result in the eradication of poppy cultivation as lawmakers had promised, it did exactly the opposite.
The Taliban prohibition had caused "the beginning of a heroin shortage in Europe by the end of 2001", the UNODC acknowledged, however immediately following the October 2001 invasion, opium markets were restored and opium prices spiraled. By 2002, the opium price was almost 10 times higher than in 2000.
Heroin is a multimillion dollar business protected by powerful, international interests, which requires a stable, steady and secure product flow. One of the secret objectives of the war was to restore the CIA sponsored drug trade to its historical norms and establish control over the smuggling routes.
According to Glenn Greenway, the Drug Truth Network reported September 15, 2008, "Afghan heroin output has increased a staggering 5,000% since the US invasion 7 years ago." I would guess this percentage is even larger today.
UN Secretary General Ban ki-moon said recently at an international conference in Vienna, that Afghanistan will never be stable unless it tackles its drug problem.
Destroying the labs has always been an obvious option, but for years America refused to do so for political reasons. In 2001 the Taliban and bin Laden were estimated by the CIA to be earning up to 10 per cent of Afghanistan’s drug revenues, then estimated at between 6.5 and 10 billion U.S. dollars a year. This income of perhaps $1 billion was less than that earned by Pakistan’s intelligence agency ISI, parts of which had become the key to the drug trade in Central Asia. The UN Drug Control Program (UNDCP) estimated in 1999 that the ISI made around $2.5 billion annually from the sale of illegal drugs.
At the start of the US offensive in 2001, according to Ahmed Rashid, “The Pentagon had a list of twenty-five or more drug labs and warehouses in Afghanistan but refused to bomb them because some belonged to the CIA's new NA [Northern Alliance] allies.” Rashid was “told by UNODC officials that the Americans knew far more about the drug labs than they claimed to know, and the failure to bomb them was a major setback to the counter-narcotics effort."
James Risen reports that the ongoing refusal to pursue the targeted drug labs came from neocons at the top of America’s national security bureaucracy, including even Donald Rumsfeld. These men were preserving a pattern of drug-trafficking protection racket in Washington that dates back all the way to World War 2.
Thanks primarily to the CIA-backed anti-Soviet campaign of the 1980s, Afghanistan today is a drug-corrupted and heroin-ravaged society from the heads of state all the way down to the junkies on the streets.
Governing Afghans are likely to become involved in the drug traffic, sooner or later, just as the FARC in Colombia and the Communist Party in Myanmar have evolved in time from revolutionary movements into drug-trafficking organizations.
Afghan President Hamid Karza
Important as heroin may have become to the Afghan and Pakistani political economies, the local proceeds are only a small share of the global heroin traffic. According to the UN, the ultimate value in world markets in 2007 of Afghanistan’s $4 billion opium crop was about $110 billion: this estimate is probably too high, but even if the ultimate value was as low as $40 billion, this would mean that 90 percent of the profit was earned by forces outside of Afghanistan.
It has been estimated that 80 percent or more of the profits from the traffic are reaped in the countries of consumption. The UNODC Executive Director, Antonio Maria Costa, has reported that “money made in illicit drug trade has been used to keep banks afloat in the global financial crisis.”
Since the time of invasion of Afghanistan, the Opium production is given a boost by United States and its powered Afghan government. Hamid Karzai and his clan are heavily involved in this business. This being understood, they have taken measures to cultivate Opium, provided support for trafficking with Tajikistan in a legal way and this has resulted as an increase in use of Opium around the globe and has especially hit Russia and Europe.
In the years since the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan Russia has been flooded with heroin. The drug has crept along a trail stretching from Afghanistan through Tajikistan and other Central Asian nations and over the Russian border, turning the country into the world's top consumer of heroin, the Russian government says.
The drug has spread like fire through a country uniquely unqualified to cope with its dangers: Narcotics were largely absent during Soviet times, and most people are still unaware of the risk of heroin addiction, even as an estimated 83 Russians a day die by overdosing on the drug, official statistics show. Russia estimates that one in every 50 people of working age is addicted to heroin. South Wales has seen a jump of 180% in heroin addiction rates since the invasion of Afghanistan. In 2008, the EU estimated that a young European died every hour from a drug overdose.
Watch, Heroin Afghan Drug Wars 2 of 4, here. Heroin Afghan Drug Wars 3 of 4, here. Heroin Afghan Drug Wars 4 of 4, here.
Also, folks, it's not just opium coming out of Afghanistan. According to the UNODC World Drug Report 2011, Afghanistan is also "among the significant cannabis resin producing countries," producing somewhere between 1,500 and 3,500 metric tons of hash in 2010, with no reason to think it has changed dramatically in 2011. That brings in somewhere between $85 million and $265 million at the farm gate.
A decade after the US invasion, Afghanistan remains the world's largest opium producer by far and possibly the world's largest cannabis producer. Given the crucial role these drug crops play in the Afghan economy, there is little reason to think anything is going to change anytime soon.
Written By: Tom Retterbush
This book explores the covert aspects of U.S. foreign policy. Prominent political analyst Peter Dale Scott marshals compelling evidence to expose the extensive growth of sanctioned but illicit violence in politics and state affairs, especially when related to America's long-standing involvement with the global drug traffic. Beginning with Thailand in the 1950s, Americans have become inured to the CIA's alliances with drug traffickers to install and sustain right-wing governments. The pattern has repeated itself in Laos, Vietnam, Italy, Mexico, Thailand, Nigeria, Venezuela, Colombia, Peru, Chile, Panama, Honduras, Turkey, Pakistan, and now Afghanistan_to name only those countries dealt with in this book. Scott shows that the relationship of U.S. intelligence operators and agencies to the global drug traffic, and to other international criminal networks, deserves greater attention in the debate over the U.S. presence in Afghanistan.The so-called war on terror, and in particular the war in Afghanistan, constitutes only the latest chapter in this disturbing story.
Get American War Machine directly from Amazon, HERE
Please help promote Conspiracy Watch by clicking the f Like and +1 bellow!