Afghanistan: US Commander Orders NATO to Kill All Opium Dealers -- NATO Balks

According to the German news magazine Der Spiegel, top NATO commander in Afghanistan, US Gen. John Craddock, has issued a "guidance" allowing NATO troops "to attack directly drug producers and facilities throughout Afghanistan." But other NATO commanders do not want to follow that order, leading to a rift at the top of the allied war machine over who is a legitimate military target.
the opium trader's wares (photo by Chronicle editor Phil Smith during September 2005 visit to Afghanistan)
NATO has reluctantly embraced an expansion of its mission from fighting the Taliban and related insurgents to going after drug trade participants linked to the insurgents. But Gen. Craddock's directive broadens the mission to include any drug traffickers or drug production facilities.

According to the document, a copy of which Der Spiegel says it has, NATO troops can now use deadly force against drug traffickers even when there is no proof they are engaged in armed resistance to NATO/US troops or their Afghan government allies. But that's not what NATO countries bargained for in October, when they agreed to allow NATO soldiers to attack opium traffickers linked to the Taliban.

It is "no longer necessary to produce intelligence or other evidence that each particular drug trafficker or narcotics facility in Afghanistan meets the criteria of being a military objective," Craddock wrote. The alliance "has decided that [drug traffickers and narcotics facilities] are inextricably linked to the Opposing Military Forces, and thus may be attacked."

Gen. Craddock sent his directive on January 5 to Egon Ramms, the German leader at NATO command in the Netherlands, and David McKiernan, commander of the NATO peacekeeping force in Afghanistan. But both commanders rejected it, arguing that the order is illegitimate and violates the laws of war. McKiernan sent a classified letter from Kabul claiming that Craddock was trying to create "a new category" in the rules of engagement that would "seriously undermine the commitment ISAF has made to the Afghan people and the international community... to restrain our use of force and avoid civilian casualties to the greatest degree predictable."

The topic of civilian deaths at the hands of NATO and US troops in Afghanistan is an increasingly prickly one with the people and government of Afghanistan. President Hamid Karzai has complained loudly and frequently about repeated US air strikes killing civilians. NATO was forced this week to defend itself by arguing that it had only killed 97 civilians last year, compared to nearly 10 times that by the Taliban.

It is unclear how the conflict between the NATO allies will be resolved. But if Craddock has his way and NATO declares open season on the drug trade, there will be a true drug war in Afghanistan. In a country where the drug trade accounts for around half the gross national product and where members of the government and independent warlords as well as the Taliban have a hand in the trade, it is difficult to see how that will help win hearts and minds.

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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kjs420's picture

We are the terrorists, of the world.

What the hell is wrong with America's "leaders"? What a bunch of criminals, we have running things. This policy of "break the law then lie your ass off" has run rampant in our government. Along with the "patriot act", and all the other crimes our government has inflicted on the world, I don't blame them a bit for hating us. In fact, I have a really foul outlook on everything the government does, lately it's all been geared toward driving this once great country straight down the sewer. For 8 years, the government has caused more harm to America than any terrorist organization could dream of. Our government are worse than terrorists, we stay. Al=Quada hits n gits, America hits and stays. Al-Quada causes minimal damage, we cause total destruction of everything. Al-Quada has a strategy, and a plan, we, have no plan, no idea, no clue, no common sense, just shitloads of bombs we got to use before the expiration date.
At the turn of the century, the US started reverting back in evolution, at a rapid pace. It's like we hit the wall, in 10 years we'll be building huts, and hunting for dinner, all the big city's will be gone, the cars, houses, and most of humanity. Those who survive, won't be able to reproduce due to the radiation. The US has enough nuclear firepower to wipe out everything on the planet 10,000 times, why, once is enough. The exact same reason we are here, is happening again. Didn't England have similar problems with their government a couple hundred years ago? Only problem is there's no vacancy.

Sounds like Fallout 3 time...

Sounds like Fallout 3 time... and I can't wait to start killing all those super mutants... in the capital wasteland!

We are in fact experiencing a mild case of 'American decline of empire' accelerated by globalization, 8 yrs of bush and his 'war on the wrong country', the resurgence of religiousity, and the erosion of lawful laws in favor of authoritarian mandates from populist political dictators... democratically elected of course!

New Meaning

General Craddock gives new meaning to the term Mission Creep.


I backed the Canadian Gov'ts intervention in Afghanistan as a war that just might keep people from being mutilated and little girls from getting acid thrown in their face for wanting an education. Now I am not so sure. Cheney uses shotguns to 'pepper' his partners, and this seems to be more of that mind set. I think a surgeon's skills are more appropriate.
Will Obama reign in Gen. Craddock? Were The Who right when they sang "We won't be fooled again"? Maybe its time to bring all our guys home, not just the 103 or so killed and many, many more wounded.
Will Craddock succeed in eradicating poppy production? Did the British? Did the Russians? Will he retire to the cottage on the pension he earned trying - you betch'ya. Will the Afghani or American or Canadian mother, or any other nation's mother understand and forgive...well maybe a few will...there is always a market for the Emperor's clothes. They are very chic in certain cottage countries!

It will happen to us

Right now, the American government, my government and your government, is using lethal force to kill non-lethal opponents, people who may hate our government, but are doing nothing against us. we royally fucked them, not Al-Quada, we went for Afghani citizens, we wanted to do more damage to them, then a radical group living in their country did to us.
How long until these tactics are used here in America? you may think that this will never happen. you may just kick back and relax and think that even though your government will jail you for a lifetime, they would never kill you just for doing something marijuana, heroine, or cocaine related. but you're wrong. this happens in America and it's likely happening right now. Para-military operations
and trigger happy officers are doing this to us every single day, the only difference is the TV news doesn't care that it's happening in their own backyard.

Every day the American government turns on its own people: they jail us, they hunt us, and they kill us. It's time to stop this war.

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