Afghan farmers are on target to produce a bumper crop of opium in 2012.
Opium farming will increase across Afghanistan in 2012, driven by insecurity, massive corruption and economic fears for the future, and spreading to more areas than it has in the past four to five years, the United Nations has warned.
Drugs help to fund the Taliban insurgency, but Afghanistan's elite also earn huge amounts from the trade and the government lacks the will to clamp down on a crop worth hundreds of millions of dollars a year, the UN's leading drug control official in Afghanistan said.
It's nothing short of depressing to listen to incompetent Western military leaders talking about success in Afghanistan and how the Afghan security forces will be able to defend their country. Defend what exactly? A "narco-state"? A government described by Chatham House as a "criminal enterprise"? Criminals defend opium mills, not armies.