Sunday, December 19, 2004

Good news, opium and administrative notes

More good news from down range.

Bitch, bitch, bitch, moan, moan, and moan some more. Afghanistan was mired in a few wars, repression of every sort was rampant for decades, but now it is joining the 21st century with help. In order for farmers to grow alternate crops, the infrastructure to support alternate crops will have to be constructed and taught to farmers (low water consuming crops, since Afghanistan has been in a drought for years -you can blame the US for that too.), irrigation systems will have to be built, and transportation and distribution systems (road maintenance, truckers, government officials…) and the other parts of a successful agricultural system with a transparent financial procedures so farmers will be paid will have to be implemented. In a few years it will be on the way of becoming a “normal” country for the region.

Afghanistan might not become Florida or California, but the residents will say that it better today under the Taliban or Soviets. You can only do so much in so little amount of time. Opium has been grown in Afghanistan for years and past US administrations will have to shoulder the blame for a lack of progress against the growth of opium. That blame can be spread world wide also.

If America wants to beat the drug problem, it will have to build more rehab programs and keep putting the drug dealers in jail. It is simple economics. If America reduces the number of addicts, the producers of heroin will look more markets and customers globally. Since Afghanistan and other countries of the region are improving economically, you will see more drug users there, because of spare cash will be around and subsistence living will be part of the past. So the local nations will start battling the drug producers, because it will not be just an American problem, but a local one.

For all those who point to the Taliban as success story in curbing the grown of opium, do they want the US Army to use the Taliban methods?

The Taliban enforced the ban by threatening to arrest village elders and mullahs who allowed poppies to be grown. Taliban soldiers patrolled in trucks armed with rocket-propelled grenade launchers. About 1,000 people in Nangarhar who tried to defy the ban were arrested and jailed until they agreed to destroy their crops.
I think that was the polite way stating their methods.

Here is their reason for the ban:

But it has become clear that the country accumulated vast stockpiles of opium even before the ban took effect, say drug officials. Rather than eliminate the drug from Afghanistan, the ban has only made it more profitable for those who are selling it by driving up its price, they say.

The price per kilogram, which at the time of Mullah Omar's ban was around $30, reached $500 last month, before the recent sell-off, authorities said. ''As a result of the ban, whoever has these stocks benefited greatly from increasing prices,'' Amirkhizi said yesterday.

Some specialists have questioned whether the Taliban's edict against growing poppies was real or just a way to drive up prices. ''The opium going out of Afghanistan hasn't gone down at all,'' said a US official who follows the global drug trade, speaking on condition of anonymity. ''They have increased production dramatically over the last three years and found themselves swimming in opium, and they have been moving it out to reduce their stocks, as well as reap bigger profits.''

Farmers openly pay local Taliban officials a 10 percent tax per kilo on their opium production, and traders pay a 20 percent tax to other Taliban leaders, Amirkhizi said. ''After that, what they do and who gets what cut is uncertain.''

Opium has been a problem for past US administrations and to expect the US to solve it in three years is ludicrous. As long as there are customers or a market (addicts), producers will line up and satisfy that demand. Look in the mirror to see who can help solve this problem.
The history of opium and the UN drug report.

Just two administrive notes:
I will follow Robert over at Expat Yank of altering the links on the left side of this page. So expand your reading list!

I just joined the Milblogs by putting a banner also at the left hand side. The hard part of joining was trying to pick out a banner. Go check them out.

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