How the U.S. Helps the Drug Lords Control the Opium Market in Afghanistan

by Jun 2, 2012Foreign Policy0 comments

The U.S. policy of supporting Afghan government poppy eradication efforts managed by corrupt government officials serves only to eliminate competition for the major drug lords who are allied with the U.S./NATO forces and Karzai regime.

Matthew Rosenberg in a blog post at the New York Times points out something I’ve been observing for many years, which is that the U.S. policy of supporting Afghan government poppy eradication efforts managed by corrupt government officials serves only to eliminate competition for the major drug lords who are allied with the U.S./NATO forces and Karzai regime.

Rosenberg doesn’t quite put it that way, but that’s what it adds up to. He writes:

Americans soldiers in southern Afghanistan’s poppy belt ignore the vast fields of the crop because cutting it down risks pushing farmers to the Taliban. But at the same time, the American government pays the Afghan government $250 for every hectare that Afghan officials destroy.

Poppy, meanwhile, remains the main cash crop. In the Zhare district of Kandahar Province, ground zero for the Obama administration’s troop surge in 2010, poppy was everywhere as the harvest approached this year. It encircled the American and Afghan army outposts that dot the landscape. It grew knee-high in fields owned by members of village militias raised by American forces to fight off the Taliban.

In the neighboring Maiwand district, where the Taliban dominate, there was even more poppy.…

On the very limited role of the Taliban in the opium trade and how the U.S. media exaggerates it, see here and here. Rosenberg continues:

The United States and its allies prefer to focus on interdiction at the trafficking stage of the trade.

This statement is a farce. What interdiction? Opium flows freely through and is manufactured into heroin in labs in U.S./NATO/regime-controlled “friendly” territory. Continuing:

But the Afghan government continues to eradicate poppy fields, financed by the United States. Compounding the problem, Afghan officials often make inequitable decisions about where they eradicate, ignoring allies who grow the crop and focusing instead on personal enemies or those who are not tied into the local power structure, Americans officers say.

That often means the most marginalized subtribes are targeted….

By contrast, opium farmers with government ties often do not have their fields bulldozed. Or they are allowed to cut deals, like having a few acres plowed under while most of their crop remains untouched.

Basically, the opium trade is okay so long as those responsible aren’t associated with anti-government elements. Peter Dale Scott documents the notable pattern of how the drugs trade seems to follow the U.S. military and CIA around the globe in American War Machine, which I highly recommend and in which he also cites some of my own research, such as from this article I wrote in 2008.

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About Jeremy R. Hammond

About Jeremy R. Hammond

I am an independent journalist, political analyst, publisher and editor of Foreign Policy Journal, book author, and writing coach.

My writings empower readers with the knowledge they need to see through state propaganda intended to manufacture their consent for criminal government policies.

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