Friday, June 29, 2007

Trading Lives for Opium! Why not Buy it all to Defuse every single Issue over there? Control it, find a use for it.

You know, my first thought when I saw this record opium Prodution in Afghanistan I thought back to previous discussions on Afghanistan and the failure Bush guaranteed there, in Iraq, and the entire middle east, when he ignored all advice to the contrary and attacked Iraq not to unseat Saddam but to get our military into the midle east. That is for another discussion!
I remember amidst discussions of the Taliban being too tough to fight, Al Frist suggested we allow them to partake in the Afghan Government. Earlier this year I recall a story where the Taliban was actively building schools for towns that did not have them. I then remember that I also did a story last year when it was announced that Afghanistan had a record year harvesting 6,700 tons. More than the entire world market could consume. Production increased 49 percent from the year before. The estimated 6,700 tons even broke the world record of 1999, when 5,764 tons of opium were produced globally. Taking into account that the insurgency derives a significant amount of revenue from drugs, I decided to research just what has happened to the Opium trade since we attacked Afghanistan.
First it seems to me that criticism of Clinton aside, I think we could have gone about this differently too. I don't know why we could not have done a surgical strike or even used unmanned aircraft as we have since, and then tried Diplomacy. Instead as Bush attacked Iraq and created an insurgent and sectarian civil war where there was none. He attacked Afghanistan and created an over abundance of opium. I was stunned when I got to thinking about opium production when the Taliban was in power and researched it.
The following information is from a story by the BBC in 2002. First, The Taleban banned poppy cultivation in 2000 so in 2001 production was down to 185 tons. Then by 2002 production went up to 3,400 tons That is around 18 times higher than last year's unusually low figure of 185 tons, which followed the ban on cultivation imposed by the Taleban in the last year of their rule. I have to wonder what they were growing in lieu of opium to survive and I don't know about this but the increase is blamed on poverty-stricken farmers taking advantage of the power vacuum and it is not the fault of Kabul or the U.N.
Every year since we attacked Afghanistan opium production has continued to climb. This year Production has increased again dramatically. It is no ones fault and no one knows how to control it. The recent 2007 report shows that In 2006, Afghanistan accounted for 92 percent of global illicit opium production, up from 70 percent in 2000 and 52 percent a decade earlier. The higher yields in Afghanistan brought global opium production to a record high of nearly 7,300 tons last year, a 43 percent increase over 2005.
The area under opium poppy cultivation in the country has also expanded, from nearly 257,000 acres in 2005 to more than 407,000 acres in 2006 — an increase of about 59 percent. "This is the largest area under opium poppy cultivation ever recorded in Afghanistan," the report said. UNODC (U.N. office of Drugs and crime) Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa warned that Afghanistan's insurgency-plagued Helmand province was becoming the world's biggest drug supplier, with opium cultivation there larger than in the rest of the country put together.
She is right that controlling Poppy cultivation would go a long way towards bringing security to the Region. To me it would go a long way in defunding the Taliban but I haven't heard any real solution and to me, again if they were serious an answer is very obvious.
For the sixth straight year, the amount of land under opium cultivation has fallen in Southeast Asia. From 1998-2006, that region's share of world opium poppy cultivation has decreased from 67 percent to just 12 percent, largely due to declines in cultivation in Myanmar, the report said. Southeast Asia's total opium production in 2006 was just 370 tons, it said.,2933,286732,00.html
All the while Afghanistan's production has grown exponentially and has more than replaced it. we cannot even control poppy cultivation let alone the Taliban. We cannot control cultivation so to me the obvious answer is to control the market. Buy all the poppy's produced and control what is done with them. It seems to me that we could find an al alternative use for it, keep the people employed, save lives and gain friends while undermining the Taliban. Doesn't this sound feasable? Why are we not doing something along this line?

James Joiner
Gardner, Ma


Larry said...

In my opinion those in power have found a way to get their "take" from the sale of opium.

Afganistan has a growing economy based on this, and the U.S and others must find profit from it.

Bush isn't above this.

jmsjoin said...

You are right. It just seems to me that if defeating the Taliban and setting up a viable Government over there was the real goal then defunding the Taliban and taking away their support is the way to do it.
The best way to do that is too control not eradicate and replace opium. That will never happen. Even if we burned it, it would be cheaper and a much better alternative to war. You would very quickly win hearts and minds and if it was being sold to someone other than you, you would know exactly whare the problem was and deal with it.