February 23, 2004
BUZZFLASH READER COMMENTARY
Let me be the first to suggest that we hold this year's Annual Drug Kingpin Awards Night in Crawford, Texas. That way we can applaud the prodigious efforts of George W. Bush in reenergizing the moribund drug trade in Afghanistan and single handedly insuring its exponential growth well into the future. For this he has proved himself singularly worthy of our Pablo Escobar Lifetime Achievement Award. (Enter; Jack Valenti)
We don't normally think of George Bush as a drug "Kingpin," but the results of his Afghanistan policy have elevated him to a level with the Cali Cartel. The growth of opium has skyrocketed in the last two years and now revenues from the illicit trade far exceed the GNP of the entire country. Last year's opium sales brought in an estimated $2.3 billion to the war ravaged country, toppling the previous year's record by more than a billion dollars. Growers are looking at 2005 to be a "bumper crop" as all the impediments to poppy cultivation have been lifted in the wake of the American invasion.
Afghani's can thank George Bush for this dubious development. His skewed policy of "bombs for democracy" has had the reverse affect of stimulating the declining drug trade. The war lifted the Taliban's harsh penalties on growing opium and now, Afghanistan has become the first Narco-state of the new century.
Since major hostilities ended two years ago, the countryside outside of Kabul has been taken over by the warlords. (During the war these regional tyrants were euphemistically referred to as the Northern Alliance, perhaps to make them more palatable to their American sponsors.) Many of these warlords are now directly involved in the cultivation and sale of Afghanistan's most lucrative crop, opium. It has become a principle source of revenue for the arms trade, which presents a direct threat to the survival of the fragile Karzai Government.
Mr. Bush is probably an unwitting victim of the "law of unintended consequences." He would probably prefer to see his fledgling Afghan government flourish, but instead has put forces in motion that will challenge its ability to consolidate the country.
He can only blame himself and his dim-witted prognosticators in the Pentagon.
The sale of drugs at this magnitude will inevitably infect every area Afghanistan's civic life. The rise in criminal activity and, ironically, the funding of terrorism is just part of a much larger picture. Prior to the Taliban takeover, opium sales were estimated to provide nearly half of neighboring Pakistan's GDP. Drug money contaminated every area of the government including elected officials, policemen and particularly the Intelligence agencies (ISI). It is impossible to anticipate the destabilizing affects that huge sums of illicit cash can have on an impoverished country, but is clearly something that should concern the shaky Musharraf Government.
We shouldn't ignore the affects that the stepped-up drug traffic will have in America.
Last year alone, Afghanistan produced in excess of 3600 tons, two-thirds of the world's opium. This means that Afghanistan is now the world's greatest producer of heroin, heroin that is appearing on the streets of New York, L.A. and capitals across Europe. Apart from the spike in crime that always accompanies large infusions of hard drugs, it's impossible to measure the amount of human suffering this will create.
So far, the Bush Administration has made no effort to address this situation. The media coverage of the issue has been negligible, with most of the attention being directed at Afghanistan's new Constitution; a meaningless document that has little more than ceremonial value. The larger problem drug proliferation and narco-trafficking has been temporarily shelved.
Inevitably, the administration will have to take a serious accounting of the mess they've made. We can assume that the strategy they ultimately employ will resemble the Columbia model; the method of hiring independent contractors to spray large swaths of the country with deadly poisons, destroying both land and water, in the name of the "drug war." Perhaps we can get the dioxin levels in the blood up to what they are for the average citizen of Viet Nam. That way we could have a whole new generation of deformed babies to celebrate the august accomplishments of the "Afghanistan Liberation."
A BUZZFLASH READER COMMENTARY
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