Thursday, January 16, 2014

Afghanistan. We Tried. We Failed.

Afghanistan's opium production grew by 50% between 2012 and 2013.

Obama has invested nearly $10-billion trying to nudge the country off its opium economy.  Hasn't worked.

Sure, we're the West.  We've got all the King's Horses and all the King's Men.  Afghanistan is our Humpty-Dumpty and we're just going to have to live with that.

“The situation in Afghanistan is dire with little prospect for improvement in 2014 or beyond,” Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction John F. Sopko told the [Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control], recounting “the opinion of almost everyone I spoke with” about the growing role of narcotics in the country’s economy during a November visit there.

From 2012 to 2013, the value of Afghanistan’s narcotics trade increased 50 percent, and it now accounts for 15 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product. Poppy cultivation has reached record levels, with acreage now three times the level in 2002 and equivalent to plantings on land 12 times the size of the District of Columbia. Opium production alone increased nearly 50 percent in the last year. More than five percent of the Afghan populace is now addicted to opiates. Moreover, half of the existing poppy fields are now located in Helmand Province, the principal locus of the U.S. miltary’s “surge” during Obama’s first term.

This grim news is a boon to the Taliban, which is now drawing at least $155 million a year from narcotics-related activities, and investing the funds in insurgency, according to United Nations estimates. “The Taliban is involved in taxing opium poppy farmers; operating processing laboratories; moving narcotics; taxing narcotics transporters ... [and] providing security to poppy fields, drug labs, and opium bazaars,” Drug Enforcement Administration chief of operations James L. Capra said in written testimony to the caucus.

We came as close as anything that could be spun as success years ago.  We should have declared victory back then and skedaddled. 


Richard said...

Funny they don't mention the opium fields being guarded by the U.S. military and CIA. Gee, I wonder why.

Nor do they mention that prior to the invasion opium production was at it's lowest levels ever because the Taliban destroyed the fields. The U.S. can pretend all it wants that it's trying to get rid of it but in reality they are one of the primary reasons the U.S. is there, to inject those drugs and the associated money into the U.S. economy.

The Mound of Sound said...

I don't know that I can go that far, Richard. I don't see how importing drugs from Afghanistan puts money into the U.S. economy.

Richard said...

Michael Ruppert has been covering this for a long time.

CIA and Drug Running: - How they do it.

Truth and lies of 9/11: - Why they do it (this is where he describes why drugs are important for the U.S. economy)

Interview with a U.S. soldier about them guarding the opium poppies:

Of course the soldier in question believes the same lies everyone else is told, but you look at the record rises in production under U.S. control and explain it :)

The Mound of Sound said...

I prefer the explanation given a few years ago by Chatham House in which Afghanistan was described as a "criminal enterprise" in which the constituent elements were the state (warlords), the drug lords and the insurgents who, together, collaborated in building the opium industry.

The west has already wrapped up the combat role, babysitting the Afghans' unresolved civil war, and will be a bystander force next year. Karzai's leaving in 2014 and there's no clear successor on the horizon. The Talibs are resurgent. The non-Pashtun warlords are said to be busy prepping for the resumption of ethnic struggles. The cops and security services are bent. The army may simply dissolve into constituent, ethnic militias. Chaos reigns.

Richard said...

After the Taliban had just finished destroying it? Or is it that now that the U.S. was in their country and was taking advantage of opium production after the _U.S._ finished destroying their agricultural crops, invading their homes, etc, that they decided to use opium funds for their own gain again and as well now that they were at war?

It's definitely a criminal enterprise, but the majority of the production out of there is being lead by the U.S.

Watch the videos, drug money is completely necessary for the U.S. economy. Opium production was at it's lowest levels BEFORE the U.S. invasion, and afterwards has been steadily climbing. That's not by chance, or by accident.

Purple library guy said...

I was saying ten years ago or more, that we were gonna lose.
The whole question of opium production is messy and complicated. The US itself is in an internal war about the subject. The CIA has long used such crops as a source of deniable money and of violent, corrupt people who will do evil things for money. Many corrupt Americans, some in high places, profit personally from drugs. Others profit from the war on drugs; some of these really think the war on drugs is for getting rid of drugs, while others don't care if it works as long as it helps their career. The drug warriors for profit and the drug traffickers for profit have a somewhat symbiotic relationship.
None of this has anything to do with benefits for the US economy as a whole, any more than the F-35 or offshoring jobs or financial deregulation are good for the US economy as a whole. But there's enough benefits for enough actors with institutional power that I can readily see some US enabling of the Afghan drug trade.

Meanwhile, from the Afghan point of view, it's a no-brainer. Poppy is by far the most lucrative cash crop, and when your house could get blown up any day you never know when you'll need money. It's a bit risky, but in Afghanistan there is no escape from risk. So, what to grow, what to grow?

Richard said...

"None of this has anything to do with benefits for the US economy as a whole, any more than the F-35 or offshoring jobs or financial deregulation are good for the US economy as a whole"

PLG: That is incorrect, please watch my videos. Drug money is an integral part of the U.S. money as it provides liquidity. There is a reason major banks keep getting caught laundering it. The CIA's purpose is to ensure drug money goes through the U.S. economy and U.S. banks.

Purple library guy said...

OK, and major American banks' use of liquidity helps the US economy as a whole how?
Do they lend to real people with it? No, not significantly. Do they create jobs with it? No. They speculate massively, creating more paper wealth for the obscenely rich and building huge bizarrely leveraged castles in the air, that wait to tumble down, carpet-bombing the economic landscape with their wreckage. Drug money by your point is just another bank welfare quantitative easing scheme.

Ultimately, devoting tons of effort to creating bads is not good for an economy. Neither is devoting tons of effort to ineffectual crackdowns. Economies are healthy when the shit they do, does stuff that's some good to somebody.

Purple library guy said...

Also, on that drug money helping the banks: Where did that money come from? The drug dealers didn't print the stuff. If it hadn't been spent on drugs, and a great deal of it gone up the chain to be poured as liquidity into banks, it would have been spent in other ways or put in saving accounts in banks. Banks would have gotten some of the liquidity, while whatever they didn't get would have done things on average more generally useful, with fewer negative side effects (addicts, violence) and more tendency to be recycled further and create more jobs.
It's similar with the F-35. Lots of profits from the purchase of those will provide liquidity for banks. But the money comes from taxes, and would have been better spent on infrastructure or child care or education or most other things governments spend money on. But banks like industries with concentrated profits so they get to play with more of the results; they don't like ones with lower profits but high multiplier effects because that generally means money is being used many times in the general economy rather than going to the banks.