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.