Southwest Asia: Russia Says US, NATO Anti-Drug Efforts in Afghanistan "Inadequate," Urges Aerial Eradication of Poppy Crops

In a Wednesday interview with the Associated Press, Russia's anti-drug chief said US and NATO anti-drug efforts in Afghanistan were "inadequate" and called for joint action to stem the flow of Afghan heroin flooding into Russia and the former Soviet republics.

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anti-drug artwork, Nejat Center, Kabul (photo by Phil Smith, fall 2005)
Viktor Ivanov told the AP that he had recently urged the Obama administration to begin a program to eradicate opium poppies by spraying them with herbicides from the air. Such a program was argued for by former drug czar John Walters and others during the Bush administration, but was rejected. Earlier this year, the US announced it was shifting away from any eradication and would focus instead on interdiction, destroying drug-making facilities, and disrupting the drug trade.

Russia is burdened with rising heroin addiction rates fueled by cheap Afghan heroin, and injection drug use has been a key factor in spreading the HIV virus there. There are an estimated 2 to 2.5 million heroin addicts in Russia, with about 30,000 dying from overdoses each year.

Ivanov, a former KGB captain who served in Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation in the 1980s, complained that by abandoning eradication efforts in Afghanistan, the West was dooming Russia to a wave of heroin addiction. He also said that growing wheat and other legal crops isn't practical in the middle of a war.

"As long as the situation remains tense and the confrontation continues, no one will engage in agriculture," he said. "They won't be able to cultivate grain even if they want to."

Ivanov noted that the US continues to fund a similar program to eradicate Colombian coca plants. Manual eradication in Afghanistan has failed and will continue to fail because the West has left it to the Afghan government and local authorities lack the clout (or sometimes the will) to effectively implement it, he said.

Ivanov said he had discussed the matter with Obama drug czar Gil Kerlikowske and State Department officials during a September meeting and that both sides agreed to continue discussions on aerial eradication. "I hope that our open-minded dialogue will encourage the US to take more adequate measures," Ivanov said. "We are interested in cooperation."

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Restore hashish crop; pay and advise growers to convert

Do I remember correctly, until the 70's good hashish was made in Aufgehenundstehen, including a black kind with white mold on the outside known in Berlin as "Schimmelafghan" (schimmel means fungus).

Then US technotroops suppressed the hashish business; the Russians suppressed it some more; now hear the complaints about opium.

This isn't the only scary story involving Russia. Gorbachev was trying to take actions to eliminate alcoholism, using Marxist state power or whatever. Ronald "Chesterfield is my cigarette" Reagan, Margaret "Tobacco Institute" Thatcher, and Pope "Art Treasures of the Vatican Sponsored by Philip Morris" John Paul II collapsed the Soviet Union out from under Gorbachev and put the lush, Yeltsin, in charge; male life expectancy in Russia went down several years. (Big 2Wackgo doesn't want binge drinking to disappear, it helps get kids hooked by trying to selfmedicate hangovers with nicotine.)

The Obvious Answer is to (a) legalize cannabis in US and everywhere; (b) send advisors to help previous poppyfarmers convert to growing both industrial hemp (for reforestation) and hashish-grade charas, which, however, would be tinctured and loaded into e-cigarette cartridges for safe medical and inspirational use everywhere on planet, solving worldwide smoking-related health issues and the Afghan unemployment crisis which feeds insurgency recruitment.

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