Introduction — January 2, 2013
Bin Laden was no more than a convenient fall guy. Just as he didn’t direct the 9/11 hijackers from a mountain cave he had nothing to do with the real reasons for Western intervention in Afghanistan. His alleged presence there was just a cover story used to topple the Taliban and replace them with a regime more amenable to Western interests.
In brief those interests consisted of installing a regime that would be more tolerant of the drugs trade. For in 2000 the then ruling Taliban had outlawed the cultivation of poppies for opium. By the following July 2001, Afghanistan’s lucrative opium trade had all but died.
It was not to last however. With overthrow of the Taliban in late 2001 the drugs trade was quickly restored and opium production reached record levels within a few short seasons.
Nor should we be surprised. After all, it is a matter of historical record that drugs have been used to further worldly power: the British Empire at its height fought two wars to ensure the continuation of the opium trade in 19th century China. While in more recent years the CIA is alleged to have been extensively involved in drugs from S.E. Asia to the Americas.
This is the REAL legacy of the Western intervention in Afghanistan.
Since the overthrow of the Taliban the country’s drugs trade has been growing year-on-year so that whoever eventually rules will inherit a highly profitable drugs trade; and whether they be the Northern Alliance or some other faction, that trade is likely to continue. So that the Western powers can now leave Afghanistan — mission accomplished.
Afghanistan’s opium crop sets new records
Alex Pena — Stars and Stripes Dec 30, 2013
Opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan surged to record heights in 2013, increasing for the third straight year in a row and confirming the country’s status as the world’s No. 1 exporter of the opium crop.
According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime’s annual Opium Survey, published in November, two factors were behind the rise in cultivation: high opium prices and speculation due to the withdrawal of U.S. and international troops from Afghanistan. Cultivation of the crop spread to two previously poppy-free provinces, Faryab and Balkh, in northern Afghanistan.
In an interview with Stars and Stripes, Yury Fedotov, head of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, said the ability of international organizations to continue working in Afghanistan and combating the trade would partly depend on the size of the international presence after 2014, when U.S. combat troops are slated to withdraw. Whether U.S. and NATO forces remain depends on a bilaterial security with the U.S., which is being held up by Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
“Many of these activities are linked to the support of (the) international presence in Afghanistan,” Fedotov said. “We need to help Afghanistan to restructure its economy and ensure sustainable development after the withdrawal of foreign forces from this country.”
Eradication efforts throughout the country declined in 2013. A total of 7,348 hectares — some 18,157 acres — of verified eradication was carried out by Afghanistan’s governors, a decline of 24 percent from 2012.
The major uptick in poppy cultivation this year has been an unwelcome reminder of the uncertain allegiances after U.S. troops leave the country. While the UNODC says it has programs in place that are meant to give Afghan farmers an alternative crop choice, those programs have been largely unsuccessful.
“It’s hard for or them to sell their products,” Fedotov said, “while they don’t have such a problem when they’re growing opium poppy.”
And as U.S. troops pass responsibility for security to the Afghan National Security Forces, the flow of drugs from Afghanistan to the rest of the world is likely to continue.