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U.S. Gives Up On Eradicating Afghanistan's Opium

Source: www.rawstory.com

BY STEPHEN C. WEBSTER
6/27/2009

Since the United States invaded Afghanistan, the country’s number one cash crop, opium, has repeatedly broken production records for the country. By some estimates, the occupied territory now supplies by some 90 percent of the world’s poppies.

So far, eradication efforts have merely fueled the Taliban’s coffers and driven civilian farmers further outside of U.S. influence. Because of this, the United States has formed a new strategy in the fight against the crop: They are giving up.

“The Western policies against the opium crop, the poppy crop, have been a failure,” said Richard Holbrooke, America’s envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, speaking to a G8 conference on Afghanistan.

“They did not result in any damage to the Taliban, but they put farmers out of work. We are not going to support crop eradication. We’re going to phase it out,” he told Reuters.

He said the new U.S. strategy will focus on intercepting chemicals used to refine opium into heroin. Troops will also attempt to target the country’s most powerful drug barons, although this has been a component of counter-narcotics in the country since the invasion.

“The Taliban [...] derives up to $100 million a year from the poppy harvest by taxing farmers and charging safe passage fees — money that will buy weapons for use against U.S., NATO and Afghan troops,” noted the Associated Press.

In spite of past efforts, from 2005 - 2006, opium production ramped up 26 percent, reported The Washington Post.

“Any disruption of the drug trade has enormous implications for Afghanistan’s economic and political stability,” reported the Post. “Although its relative strength in the overall economy has diminished as other sectors have expanded in recent years, narcotics is a $2.6 billion-a-year industry that this year provided more than a third of the country’s gross domestic product. Farmers who cultivate opium poppies receive only a small percentage of the profits, but U.S. officials estimate the crop provides up to 12 times as much income per acre as conventional farming, and there is violent local resistance to eradication.”

The following year, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime estimated that opium production had doubled since 2005, raising crop estimates to nearly 93 percent of world supply.

“‘The results are very bad, terrifyingly bad, because cultivation has increased by 17% to an historic level,’ said Antonio Maria Costa, executive director of the Office on Drugs and Crime,” in a BBC report. “No other country beside China in the 19th Century ever had such a large amount of land dedicated to illegal activities.”

Costa told Reuters on Saturday that U.S. opium eradication efforts had been a “sad joke” and a waste of lives, all to eliminate approximately three percent of the county’s production volume.

Officials in President Barack Obama’s administration say they want to emphasize alternative crops and avoid aggressive eradication operations that could alienate Afghans.

wow.

hmmm ya im sure we really care about the farmers losing their jobs. the fact that we are making billions in illegal drug trade from the crop isnt a factor im sure

There was NEVER...

... any intent to eradicate poppy production in Afghanistan. NEVER!

The world-wide "drug war" is a total fraud designed to steal money from the citizenry for armaments purchases, militarization of local police to create a police state, and expansion of prison populations to support the new private prison industry, as well as, drive up prices fetched by the merchants at the upper levels who are heavily invested in all levels of the fraud.

--
"But truthfully, I don't really know. We've had trouble getting a handle on Building No. 7."
~Dr. Shyam Sunder - Acting Dir. Bldg. & Fire Research Lab. (NIST)
"We are [still] unable to provide a full explanation of the total collapse." (NIST)

Willing to accept defeat

I guess the US is willing to accept a military defeat after-all.

where are the Neocons and their rabid protests?

The Taliban stopped it! But

The Taliban stopped it! - http://www.themodernreligion.com/jihad/afghan/speech.html

In 2000 the Taliban banned opium production, a first in Afghan history. In 2000, Afghanistan's opium production still accounted for 75% of the world's supply. On 27 July 2000, the Taliban again issued a decree banning opium poppy cultivation. According to opioids.com, by February 2001, production had been reduced from 12,600 acres (51 km2) to only 17 acres (7 ha).When the Taliban entered north Waziristan in 2003 they immediately banned poppy cultivation and punished those who sold it.