Newsbrief: The Opium Files -- Afghanistan at a Record Pace This Year 7/25/03

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Afghanistan, the world's largest opium producer in recent years, is preparing for a bountiful harvest, according to various press reports. The US-backed government of President Hamid Karzai has banned the production of opium, but with little apparent impact. Last year, Afghanistan supplied 75% of the world's opium, according to the United Nations, and this year it appears ready to exceed that figure.

The Washington Post reported earlier this month that "Afghanistan appears poised to produce another bumper crop. In rural areas where wheat has historically been the dominant crop, fields of brilliant red, pink and white poppies are proliferating. Many poor farmers, who complain that the Afghan government and other countries have failed to ease their economic woes through legal means, say that they are growing illegal opium poppies for the first time."

Last year, Afghans produced about 3,400 tons of opium, already putting the country ahead of the record 3,250 tons harvested in 1999. The Taliban government banned opium production in 2000, reducing the crop by 90% that year.

While the United States has given lip service to Afghan opium eradication, US drug war goals are in conflict with US geo-strategic goals of maintaining a friendly regime in the country, once the main base for Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda network and still a country where US armed forces come under almost daily attack from Taliban and Al Qaeda remnants. According to the Post, "many well-placed politicians, police officers and military officials already are profiting from the drug trade."

"This is just outrageous," one disgruntled drug warrior told the Jewish newspaper the Forward in May, as the Senate examined the explosion in Afghan opium production under the US-created and backed regime. "If any other country was in the position we are and allowing this to happen, we would accuse them of being complicit in the drug trade. The Bush administration is showing benign neglect," said former State Department and CIA official Larry Johnson.

Most Aghan opium is destined to become heroin delivered to the thriving markets of Europe, and for this reason Britain has said it is taking a lead role in attempting to suppress Afghan production. So far, the impact is less than nil.

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Issue #297, 7/25/03 Editorial: Follow the Undercurrents | Bad Neighbor Policy: Learn All About the Drug War in Latin America through DRCNet's New Book Offer | Historic Medical Marijuana Vote in House -- Support Rises, But Not Yet Enough | House Defeats Effort to Divert Colombia Military Aid, Barely | DRCNet in Action: Grassroots Action on Medical Marijuana and Colombia Votes | DRCNet Interview: Baldomero Cáceres, Advisor to the Confederation of Peruvian Coca Growers | Unapproved Vancouver Safe Injection Site Gets Unwanted Police Attention | Newsbrief: The Opium Files -- Afghanistan at a Record Pace This Year | Newsbrief: The Opium Files -- In Welsh Fields, the Poppies Grew | Newsbrief: The Opium Files -- Feds Find Plantation in Midst of California Forest | Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cops Story | Newsbrief: Wisconsin Weedstock Wins Appeals Court Victory | Newsbrief: Australian Safe Injection Room a Success, Say Evaluators | Newsbrief: Spanish Government Okays Heroin Maintenance in Catalonia | Newsbrief: Dr. Strangelove, Please Call Home -- Connecticut Scientists Compile Marijuana DNA Database to Track Trafficking | Newsbrief: Michigan Lawmakers Introduce Anti-Methamphetamine Package, Includes Life in Prison for 1,000 Grams | The Reformer's Calendar

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