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U.S. bombs sow a new crop: Afghan heroin floods market

By Leslie Feinberg

April 11, 2002--Get ready for a bumper crop of poppies in Afghanistan. Once processed, it will flood the streets of this country with tons of low-priced heroin.

On March 31, 7.5 tons of unrefined morphine were seized by police in Turkey, a NATO power that is playing a big role in Bush's war in Afghanistan. This biggest drug haul ever in Turkey is believed by the authorities there to have come from Afghanistan.

On April 1, a front-page New York Times article reported that U.S. and British officials admit Afghanistan will produce enough opium this year to regain hegemony of the world supply. And the story was no April Fool's Day prank.

But wait a minute. Isn't the Bush administration spending billions of dollars "securing" Afghanistan against those it calls the "bad guys"? And isn't the Bush administration also carrying out a "war on drugs" in Colombia?

The surge in morphine and heroin from U.S.-occupied Afghanistan shows that U.S. military intervention has nothing to do with stopping drugs. On the contrary, U.S. wars since Vietnam have paralleled big increases in narcotics reaching this country.

So why is Washington intervening in Colombia with military advisers and billions of dollars?

A popular revolutionary army has been fighting the Colombian wealthy class for the last three decades. Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey, when he was commander of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, invented the term "narco-terrorists" to slander these revolutionaries. Those who are trying to change Colombian society and who risk everything fighting for the workers and peasants are branded drug lords in films and television dramas here. In fact, the U.S. is giving military and econo mic aid to the same corrupt and brutal ruling elite in Colombia who owe much of their affluence to cocaine commerce.

Back in Afghanistan, it's an open secret that many of the CIA-backed mercenaries who fought from 1979 until a decade ago to defeat a secular and progressive government were allowed to earn extra cash by growing and selling opium. In imperialist double-speak, these drug lords were dubbed "freedom fighters."

Now they're back in business. Big time.

In the mid-1990s the Taliban, proponents of a severe Muslim fundamentalist ideology, took over in Afghanistan. The CIA's own reports reveal that under the Taliban, opium output plunged from an estimated 4,042 tons in 2000--some 71 percent of the world's inventory--to just 80 tons last year.

The Times article notes, "What little opium Afghanistan produced in 2001 came almost entirely from the 10 percent of its territory then controlled by the Northern Alliance, the backbone of the new government." In other words, from the faction of gangsters the U.S. was grooming to install as the regime after the Pentagon toppled the Taliban.

Now, U.S. officials "have quietly abandoned their hopes to reduce Afghanistan's opium production substantially this year and are now bracing for a harvest large enough to inundate the world's heroin and opium markets with cheap drugs."

Once the U.S. installed Hamid Karzai as the titular head of state of Afghanistan, he publicly proclaimed a ban on opium cultivation. But, the Times adds, "While foreign officials have applauded Mr. Karzai's ban, it was issued only after the poppies had been planted and without any viable means of implementation."

Don't expect the "war on drugs" to aim its massive weapons at the new Afghan administration as long as it supports U.S. economic and geopolitical dominion in the region.

But from a public relations position, what is the imperial solution when one excuse for war blocks the path of another? Rank them to get military traffic flowing again. "The fight against terrorism takes priority," the Times quotes a British law enforcement official. "The fight against narcotics comes in second." Virtually all the heroin hawked on the streets of the English isle comes from Afghanistan.

In fact, as with the "war against terrorism," Wall Street and its White House will formulate any pretense to power the military juggernaut. And if the truth gets in the way of their crusade to command the world's capitalist markets and the profits that flow from them, then crush it under the treads of a military tank.

So when the heroin deluge pours into the U.S. and England, perhaps its domestic casualties should be listed as victims of "friendly fire."

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UPDATED Nov 19, 2007 8:25 AM
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