Terrorism’s down-payment in the form drugs and U.S. aid money (part 4)
Afghanistan’s corruption is legendary (see Part 3 in this series). The war-torn tribal nation provides fertile fields for training terrorists and growing poppies, is home to al Qaeda, and is where the 9/11 plotters hatched their terrorist attack on America. But sadly, in the worst kept secret in Central Asia, the U.S. condones and encourages the growing of poppies, the base ingredient for heroin and cocaine. We do so, not to keep the poor farmers happy, but to line the pockets of the Taliban, warlords, and the Karzai government. In other words Americans are fighting and dying protecting the poppy fields.
According to Colonel (ret) Eugene Khrushchev (son of the former Soviet Premier) writing for the Salem-News.com, “What Secretary of State (Hilary Clinton) called the ‘best decision in the face of an array of less-than-perfect options’ has set in motion the worse-case nightmare scenario- a boon for the drug lords, a bane for the drug busters.” Colonel Khrushchev contends that America’s drug eradication policy is nothing more than a ruse. Instead it supplies criminal elements with the means to destabilize the Afghan government while destroying the tribal population to ensure terrorists sympathy in the region forever.
The incentive for narcotic trafficking is the $2.7 billion in annual sales, according to United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). And in Afghanistan, the drug trade accounts for more than half the country’s entire GDP.
Making matters worse is Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s government’s involvement. Afghan Parliament member, Amanullah Paiman has studied the illicit drug-trade and claims the government runs approximately 70 percent of the narco-fields. “The chain of narco dollars goes from the districts to the highest levels of government.”
Perhaps the most well-known trafficker is President Karzai’s brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai. A Newsweek article described it this way; “He (the president’s brother) is the unofficial regional governor of southern Afghanistan and leads the whole trafficking structure,” said a senior Interior Ministry official. However, Ahmed Karzai flatly denies any involvement in the drug trade.
One US argument for letting the farmers grow their lucrative poppy crops rings hollow. Skeptics point out that those farmers could turn to insurgents to earn a living without the poppies. The second focuses economic hardship farmers would suffer if they were forced to grow another crop. Both arguments are false.
The New York Times reported in July of 2008 that Afghanistan was already a narco-state. “Karzai had long opposed aerial eradication. Why? More than 95 percent of the residents of the poppy growing provinces of Helmand and Kandahar- voted for Karzai.”
“Poppy cultivation was becoming limited to the south, more associated with the insurgency and disassociated from poverty…UNODC convincingly demonstrated that poor farmers were abandoning the crop and that poppy growth was confined to the wealthiest parts … ‘poverty doesn’t appear to have been the main driving factor in the expansion of opium poppy’,” according to the NYT.
“UNODC shattered the myth that poppies are grown by destitute farmers…Eighty percent of the land under poppy cultivation in the south had been planted with it only in the last two years …these farmers didn’t need an alternative livelihood. They had abandoned their previous livelihoods…to take advantage of the security vacuum [which coincides with the UK military presence] to grow a more profitable crop: opium…Yet Afghan officials continued to say that poppy cultivation was the only choice for its poor farmers,” the UNODC states. The truth is the insurgents pay the poppy farmers an advance in pay to plant poppies, according to the latest 2011 report.
“The ‘starving farmer’ was a convenient myth. [NATO] …wanted to avoid any uptick in violence from [counternarcotics] strategy; even if the strategy would result in long-term success…the Taliban loved it because their propaganda campaign consisted of trotting out farmers whose fields had been eradicated and having them say that they were going to starve.”
The question of what to do with the poppy fields has plagued every commander in the now 10-year-war. A Newsweek article describes the fear of Afghan officials who fear, “We are losing the fight against drug traffickers. If we don’t crack down on these guys soon, it won’t be long until they’re in control of everything.”
The question remains will the program that started under the Bush Administration and continues with the Obama Administration be the albatross that sinks the war effort? Or does President Obama realize his mistakes and correct them before the American people cry foul?
Part five; Afghanistan- the counterinsurgency- will it work?
Part three; Billion-dollar corruption within the U.S. picked Afghan regime
Part two; U.S. payments to Taliban & Afghan warlords threaten American/NATO troops
Part one; U.S. troops fight and die to preserve Sharaih Law in Afghanistan
© Copyright 2011 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.
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