America's drug war "grants huge subsidies to our enemies"
Jacob Sullum ask the cogent questions and poses the important issues in his essay, "America's Taliban-Support Program" on Reason online Magazine.
The title alone gets to the heart of the issue of Afghanistan's record opium crop. Last year foreign policy expert Barnett R. Rubin told the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee (PDF): "The international drug control regime, which criminalizes narcotics, does not reduce drug use, but it does produce huge profits for criminals and the armed groups and corrupt officials who protect them. Our drug policy grants huge subsidies to our enemies."
The Taliban and al Qaeda are not even remotely the only stateless terrorist groups or armies that depend on the drug war created $ 500 billion black market economy. In 2003 as congress prepared to tighten money transfer laws against terrorists, an act that drove more such groups into the dependency on the drug trade as an alternative funding source, the Senate Judiciary Committee heard this testimony:
"Of the 36 groups designated by the State Department as foreign terrorist organizations, 14 (or 39 percent) are connected to drug activities, testified Steven W. Casteel, assistant administrator for intelligence of the Drug Enforcement Administration.
He said they range from Middle Eastern terrorist groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia, the Shining Path in Peru and the Abu Sayyaf Group in the Philippines."
21 May 2003, The Daily Herald
"U.S. users consume 15 tons of heroin a year."
According to a recent report
from the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime, 19,047 hectares of poppies
were eradicated in Afghanistan this year, 24 percent more than in 2006.
Meanwhile, the number of opium-free provinces more than doubled, from
six to 13.
Those victories were somewhat overshadowed by the news
that the total amount of land devoted to opium poppies in Afghanistan
rose from 165,000 to 193,000 hectares, an increase of 17 percent. Due
to "favorable weather conditions," estimated opium production rose even
more, hitting an all-time high of 8,200 metric tons, 34 percent more
than the previous record, set last year.
The U.N. says this year's opium output, (in Afghanistan) which represents 93 percent of
the illicit world supply, "exceeds global demand by a large margin,"
indicating a stockpile of thousands of tons. Despite their concerns
that opium profits are helping to fund terrorism, U.S. and U.N. drug
warriors seem intent on raising the value of that stockpile by
THE LOST WAR
We've Spent 36 Years and Billions of Dollars Fighting It, but the
Drug Trade Keeps Growing
Poppies were the first thing that British army Capt. Leo Docherty
noticed when he arrived in Afghanistan's turbulent Helmand province
in April 2006. "They were growing right outside the gate of our
Forward Operating Base," he told me. Within two weeks of his
deployment to the remote town of Sangin, he realized that "poppy is
the economic mainstay and everyone is involved right up to the higher
echelons of the local government."
Poppy, of course, is the plant from which opium -- and heroin -- are derived.
Docherty was quick to realize that the military push into northern
Helmand province was going to run into serious trouble. The rumor was
"that we were there to eradicate the poppy," he said. "The Taliban
aren't stupid and so they said, 'These guys are here to destroy your
livelihood, so let's take up arms against them.' And it's been a
downward spiral since then."
And now heroin is cheaper than water in Afghanistan. One wonders how they make such huge profits.