Thursday, January 14, 2010

Afghanistan and the Drug Trade. Who Are we Protecting?

When the story first broke about former foreign affairs minister Maxime Bernier leaving sensitive NATO documents in the apartment of a girlfriend, the media became focused on the sexy side of the story, ignoring most of the important issues. Like what was in the documents, and why is he taking them home?

But the woman in question, Julie Couillard, revealed something else that Bernier had told her, stating on national television that Maxime had said “the war in Afghanistan has nothing to do with building democracy in that country but has to do with the global control of the opium trade. It’s a drug war.”... "the War In Afghanistan was about the control of the global opium trade, not democracy".

According to a United Nations report in 2006:

UN anti-narcotics chief calls for wide-spectrum action against Afghan opium production

Afghanistan, the world’s largest opium producer, is already a “narco-economy” and risks becoming a “narco-state,” with drug production its largest employer, the top United Nations drugs and crime fighter warned today.

UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa called for a wide range of international action to curb production, trafficking, demand and accompanying corruption, terming the reduction of heroin demand “the mother of all drug control challenges.”

“Afghanistan has already become a narco-economy in the sense that drugs are now Afghanistan’s largest employer, income generator, source of capital, export and foreign investment,” UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa told a ministerial conference in Moscow on drug trafficking routes from the country. “It has become a narco-society in the sense that many Afghans are now hooked on the drug money and now it risks becoming a narco-state,” he added.

Pyramids of protection now connect the upper world of the Afghan establishment to the underworld of Afghan mafias.”

Seasoned journalist Arthur Kent, shown in the video above, is also concerned with the drug trade and made his concerns known to our ambassador in Afghanistan, Arif Lalani; when he first arrived. He told him that there members of the Karzai government involved in the illegal drug trade, but his warnings fell on deaf ears. Now remember, Arthur Kent is the brother of Reform-Conservative Peter Kent, so this is not a partisan issue.

The New York Times recently reported on the issue, but are suggesting that the Taliban are the only ones involved and that the drug trade is supporting their forces.

WASHINGTON — The United States-led counter narcotics effort in Afghanistan, viewed as critical to halting the flow of funds to the Taliban and curtailing corruption, lacks a long-term strategy, clear objectives and a plan for handing over responsibility to Afghans, the State Department inspector general said in a report released Wednesday.

The report said that military and civilian anti drug programs lacked clearly delineated roles, and that civilian contracts for counter narcotics work were poorly written and largely supervised from thousands of miles away.

We learn that there are new anti-drug initiatives, but are they really working? This from the Associated Press on December 24, 2009: US anti-drug effort in Afghanistan criticized
Afghanistan produces roughly 90 percent of the world's illicit opium. By MATTHEW LEE

WASHINGTON — The State Department's internal watchdog on Wednesday criticized the agency's nearly $2 billion anti-drug effort in Afghanistan for poor oversight and lack of a long-term strategy. The department's inspector general said the Afghanistan counter-narcotics program is hampered by too few personnel and rampant corruption among Afghan officials.

The inspector general's report also noted that despite a consensus among U.S. agencies that eradicating poppy fields is essential, the focus has shifted to interdiction of drug organizations and alternative crop projects ....

One more reason to RETHINK AFGHANISTAN!

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