Asia Times Online has scrutinized the UN Drugs and Crime Office's latest report, "Addiction, Crime, and Insurgency: The Transnational Threat of Afghan Opium," to discover that it blatantly distorts just who is feeding off Afghanistan's opium trade. Hint, it's not the Taliban.
The Taliban does get opium money, about 4% of the total, around $125-million. That's a healthy piece of change but the UN officials found it's still only 10-15% of the insurgents' overall funding. 85% of their money comes from non-opium sources.
Afghan farmers pocket 21% of the opium haul but the remaining 75%, "is captured by government officials, the police, local and regional power brokers and traffickers - in short, many of the groups now supported (or tolerated) by the United States and NATO are important actors in the drug trade."
That ties in neatly with the recent story in Harper's about the Canadian military's buddy, the Afghan Border Police commandant in Spin Boldak, the same guy we know is one of the biggest drug traffickers in the Kandahar/Helmand/Pakistan border region.
Shouldn't we at least be getting a cut of the action? It seems to me that a lot of people are getting awfully rich due in no small part to our efforts at keeping the insurgency from blowing up into a business-disrupting civil war.
So, cutting out the farmers, that would make it 75% to our side, the good guys, and a paltry 4% to the Taliban, the bad guys. And who says Karzai & Company don't have a good thing going for them - thanks to us.