Tuesday, June 21, 2005

A detour

It seems that there is this ambassador in Afghanistan that Bush wants to make ambassador to Iraq now. His name is Zalmay Khalilzad. I have seen this guys name appear as a member of the Project For a New American Century, but can find no verifying proof of that. Which is besides the point. It seems there is some conflict regarding this guy, and his work in Afghanistan. Besides the charges that the US flew ONLY Kharzai with Zalmay in tow to all the provinces on Afghanistan for the election campaign, I found a curious little sentence about Khalilzad helping the warlords and smugglers. Smugglers?

Let's go back in time. Back to the time when the French were in Viet Nam, before US involvement. The French were fighting the communist guerilla forces with regular army. It wasn't working. (How long did it take the US to learn that...?) Both sides, but more so the VC, were having money shortage problems. So the VC decided to raid neighboring Thailand and steal some heroin and sell it. Well, not to be out done, the French visited several neighboring countries, and instead of stealing the crop, hired the farmers, and then bought the crop. The French then in turn sold the drug to gangs and criminal organizations, and had money to create their own guerilla forces. Hence was born the foreign policy to finance state backed terror using drug money. Sort of has that Iran/Contra ring to it doesn't it? Or shall we say, the Zalmay/Hamid ring?

It is a well known fact by now, since Rumsfeld acknowledged the need to use US soldiers to eradicate opium in late 2003, that the opium trade in Afghanistan has grown even larger. Estimates say 75% of the worlds heroin base comes from US controlled(?) Afghanistan. There are some interesting facts here. I will get to those, but thess questions first: could it be that the US is allowing this trade to flourish? Further, are they buying the drug and then re-selling it to those who distribute it to users the world over, including the US? And how cheap could it be to use soldiers to eradicate the poppy?

Now to flesh out this story, which remember, has at it's head a possible member of the PNAC, Zalmay Khalilzad. This story actually begins back in the days when the Soviet Union was in control, ostensibly, of Afgahanistan. The US was allied with the mujhadden. The mujhadeen financed themselves by selling opium. The US didn't do anything in regards to the opium. It is highly possible that they purchased it. These mujhadeen later evolved into the Northern Alliance, and durin the Taliban tenure, opium production dropped to 77 tons. All of it came from the Northern Alliance controlled region. The conservative Cato Institute writer Ted Galen Carpenter states on their web site that the Taliban just held the crops in warehouses to drive prices up, but offers no evidence of that. Usually with drugs, price goes up when quantity becomes scare, and that occured during their reign. it would stand to reason then that after their downfall, American forces would have either found stashed quantities or the market would have reflected the surge of supply. I cannot find evidence of either happening. In 2001 a 12 member team from the UN Drug Control program searched the producing areas of Afghanistan and found so few poppies that they did not expect any opium to emerge from Afghanistan that year, according to Bernard Frahi, the regional director for Afghanistan and Pakistan.

In November 2003, US drug czar John Walter stated, "Poppy cultivation in Afghanistan is a major and growing problem," said Walters. "Drug cultivation and trafficking are undermining the rule of law and putting money in the pocket of terrorists. The drug trade is hindering the ability of the Afghan people to rebuild their country and rejoin the international community. It is in the interest of all nations, including our European partners, to help the Karzai government fight the drug trade." Walters then started Operation Containment to staunch the flow of opium.

Last years production was about 4000 tons. What isn't being said is that the US needs the warlords to help contain the Tailban and al-qaeda, and so they turn a blind eye. The other real possibility is that the US is allowing it to happen knowing that the immediate consequence are well armed warlords, and that in the long run it will wreak economic havoc. Currently the opium trade is half of Afghanistans GDP. To learn the long term economic consequences, read Loretta Napoleoni's book, Terror Incorporated. The trail of history that points to US condoning and probably participating in this type of activity dates back to the Viet Nam conflict.

And who was the guy in charge for the US in all this? This very same Zalmay Khalilzad that Bush wants to appoint ambassador to Iraq. Now I ask, even with the soldiers on the ground, wouldn't it be possible to napalm all these fields? I have to think so. A couple unmanned drones can locate the fields, and then a little planning to guarantee man power and a little chopper air cover, and I have to think that a couple sqauds with flame throwers could pretty much eradicate the poppy crop. Instead, under Zalmay Khalilzad, the poppy crop has grown exponentially, and will continue to do so. So can you imagine what he will do in Iraq?


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