Afghanistan’s opium crop at an all-time high

Afghanistan’s opium crop at an all-time highfrom jerry mazza: The question is why. Under Taliban rule, which began in the late 1990s, Afghanistan just about kicked the growing habit by 2001. After five years the Taliban is slipping back in, but poppy production has grown by leaps and bounds.

According to the Washington Post, “Opium production in Afghanistan, which provides more than 90 percent of the world’s heroin, broke all records in 2006, reaching a historic high despite ongoing U.S.-sponsored eradication efforts, the Bush administration reported yesterday.

“In addition to a 26 percent production increase over the past year — for a total of 5,644 metric tons — the amount of land under cultivation in opium poppies grew by 61 percent. Cultivation in the two main production provinces, Helmand in the southwest and Oruzgan in central Afghanistan, was up by 132 percent.”

With a flair for understatement, White House drug policy chief John Walters called the news “disappointing.” I’d say it was shocking. But curiously, the “resurgent Taliban forces” were cited “as the main impediment to stabilization and reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan and the U.S. military investment has far exceeded anti-narcotic and development programs.”

But Walters went so far as to say “the drug trade as a problem . . . rivals and in some ways exceeds the Taliban, threatening to derail other aspects of U.S. policy.” But I thought when those bearded brigands, the Taliban, were there, poppy production was near nil, 94% gone.

Somehow this brings to mind a Michael Ruppert article, “The Bush-Cheney Drug Empire,” published in Nexus Magazine. He wrote, “The Bush family’s involvement in drug-running is an open secret, but Dick Cheney’s direct link to a global drug pipeline through a US construction company is less well known.”

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