Reprinted from CounterPunch
2014 was a banner year for Afghanistan's booming opium industry. According to a United Nations annual survey released on Wednesday, opium cultivation set a record in 2014, increasing by an impressive 7 percent year-over-year and up nearly 50 percent from 2012. Afghanistan presently produces 80 percent of the world's heroin which provides billions of dollars in illicit profits for the powerful drug Mafia. Heroin trafficking and production have flourished under US military occupation and transformed Afghanistan into a dysfunctional narco-colony.
Readers who follow events in Afghanistan will recall that the Taliban had virtually eradicated poppy production before Bush and Cheney launched their war in 2001. The Pentagon reversed that achievement by installing the same bloodthirsty warlords who had been in power before the Taliban. Naturally, this collection of psychopaths -- who the western media lauded as the "Northern Alliance" -- picked up where they left off and resumed their drug operations boosting their own wealth and power by many orders of magnitude while meeting the near-insatiable demand for heroin in capitals across Europe and America.
In a Thursday article in the New York Times, Rod Nordland suggests that the recent uptick in production can be pinned on the Afghan presidential elections. Here's what he says:
"The eight-month presidential and provincial elections...affected opium production not only in the increased demand by politicians for campaign cash, but also in diverting police and military resources to the elections and away from opium eradication.- Advertisement -
"Opium crop eradication decreased by 63 percent from 2013 to 2014, the report said. Such changes were seen in nearly all provinces where there were eradication efforts underway...
"'Andrey Avetisyan, a former Russian ambassador to Afghanistan and now the head of the United Nations drug agency here, said United Nations officials had met with (newly-elected President) Ashraf Ghani recently and were encouraged by his concern. He understood well that drug trafficking suffocates the normal economic development,' Mr. Avetisyan said. 'We are quite optimistic.'" (Afghan Opium Cultivation Rises to Record Levels, New York Times)
Think about how that for a minute. Nordland admits that production rose because of the "the increased demand by politicians for campaign cash," but then he does an about-face and says that those same politicians (like new president Ashraf Ghani) support opium eradication. Does that make sense to you, dear reader? Is Nordland trying to say that Afghan politicians only support eradication when they don't need money, but do a quick 180 when they do?
It's worth noting that Washington's new man in Kabul, President Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, received a Master's degree from Columbia University, taught at Johns Hopkins University from 1983 to 1991, and joined the World Bank in 1991. In other words, he has the perfect pedigree for an aspiring sock puppet who will do whatever Washington tells him to do.
It's also worth mentioning that Ghani signed a controversial security deal to allow US combat troops to stay in Afghanistan after the occupation formally ends. (US troops will also enjoy total immunity from prosecution.) Karzai refused to cave in on the issue, which made him persona non grata at the White House, but eager-to-please Ashraf signed the document the day after he was sworn into office. Here's the scoop from the Washington Post:
"The United States and Afghanistan on Tuesday signed a vital, long-delayed security deal that will allow nearly 10,000 American troops to remain in Afghanistan beyond the final withdrawal of U.S. and international combat forces this year.- Advertisement -
"The Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA), and a separate pact signed with NATO, permit the continued training and advising of Afghan security forces, as well as counterterrorism operations against remnants of al-Qaeda. The signing of the documents comes as Taliban insurgents are increasing their attacks in an effort to regain control in anticipation of the combat troops' departure.
"The accord was signed a day after Ashraf Ghani was sworn in as Afghanistan's new president in a power-sharing government, marking the first democratic hand over of power in the nation's history. Ghani's predecessor, Hamid Karzai, who had presided over the country since shortly after the Taliban was driven from power in 2001, had refused to sign the agreement, souring relations with Washington." (U.S. and Afghanistan sign vital, long-delayed security pact, Washington Post)
You can see why they love Ghani in Washington. The man is clearly prepared to bend over backwards to please his handlers at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
There's no reason to think that Ghani is going to be any tougher on poppy growers or drug traffickers than Karzai. The whole thing is a joke. Besides, Ghani doesn't have the resources to wage that kind of war. He can't deploy combat units to burn the fields, or hunt down and bust the kingpins, or freeze the assets in suspect bank accounts. Only the US has that kind of power, and they're not interested. According to the report by the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction:
"The recent record-high level of poppy cultivation calls into question the long-term effectiveness and sustainability of those prior efforts." Given the severity of the opium problem and its potential to undermine U.S. objectives in Afghanistan, I strongly suggest that your departments consider the trends in opium cultivation and the effectiveness of past counternarcotics efforts when planning future initiatives." (CNN)