Rixon Stewart – December 25, 2009
Queen Elizabeth II thanked British servicemen and women in her annual Christmas address but behind her thanks lies depths of profound cynicism.
Afghanistan is the current focus of a British military campaign that harkens back to the past and Queen Elizabeth II probably echoed her ancestor Queen Victoria when she acknowledged her troops sacrifice.
For in the 1800’s another British army was in Afghanistan in an effort to counter growing Russian influence. Then the face-off between the imperial powers was known as the Great Game and it continues to this day.
Russia’s forces withdrew from Afghanistan 20 years ago as the Soviet Union began to falter. Little more than ten years later the British were back in Afghanistan as part of a ‘coalition of the willing’, although this time they weren’t there to counter Russian influence.
Instead, in the aftermath of 9/11 they were there to wage a “War on Terror”; at least that’s the official line repeated by the corporate media.
In reality however, Coalition forces were there to help re-establish the drugs trade. All the talk about fighting terror is a smokescreen to conceal the real reason for the invasion and continued occupation.
When the Taliban took power in 1996 the world powers took little interest in Afghanistan. In July 2000 that changed when the ruling Taliban outlawed the cultivation of opium poppies as a sin against Islam. At the time Afghanistan was the source of nearly 80% of the world’s heroin.
By May 2001 the Taliban’s decree on poppies had taken effect. In Helmand Province, the former heartland of Afghanistan’s poppy production, there were virtually none to be seen. A rare victory in the War on Drugs had been achieved.
Or so it seemed.
Less than six months later Coalition forces were in Afghanistan as part of “Operation Enduring Freedom”, a noble sounding title that concealed the real reason for the Taliban’s overthrow.
The following year opium poppy cultivation was back in full swing and by 2007 record levels of production had been reached.
So when Queen Elizabeth II pays tribute to her troops just remember what they are actually fighting for, because history is repeating itself in more ways than one.
This is not the first time Britain has fought a war over drugs. In fact under Queen Victoria Britain fought two wars to ensure the continued production and consumption of narcotics.
The first and second Opium Wars were fought after the British allowed opium from colonial India to be smuggled into China, in defiance of Chinese prohibition laws.
The Chinese lost both wars, which ultimately led to the Boxer Rebellion.
So as Queen Elizabeth II pays tribute to British troops she continues an old tradition: giving the official seal of approval to Western involvement in the drugs trade. Although of course, no one will say as much but that is what Western forces are in Afghanistan for.
It’s also no coincidence that Helmand Province has seen some of the hardest fighting and where British forces have their biggest base. For Helmand is the very heartland of Afghanistan’s poppy production and Camp Bastion is there to ensure it continues.
It’s not just ‘foreign policy’ however but a lucrative business where vast amounts of money can be made. What’s more none of it need be accounted for, which is why it is so appealing to the West’s ruling elite. Vast amounts of money can be made and used to finance secret ‘Black Budget’ projects, which needn’t be accounted for or even known about.
All Queen Elizabeth II has to do is make a few fine sounding noises to cover what is essentially a criminal enterprise.
Moreover Afghanistan is not just a lucrative criminal enterprise but also the means to undermine opponents. In the 19th century similar methods were used against Imperial China and today it is being used against Russia and Iran, where opium addiction is now a serious social problem.
Nor does it matter that Afghanistan’s drugs also end up on streets in the West. Not only do the elite get to make vast amounts of undeclared wealth, like Soma in Huxley’s Brave New World, the drugs also help subdue potentially troublesome elements with narcosis. So either way the elite benefit.
So once again history repeats itself and Queen Elizabeth II is playing much the same role as her ancestor Queen Victoria. So when she speaks of a “debt of gratitude” just remember who is actually benefiting and why.