Abby Martin takes a look at a shocking statistic that puts opium production in Afghanistan at a record high, and puts into perspective the different corporate interests that could be keeping US forces in Afghanistan well beyond 2014.
Tag Archives | Opium
The opium trade is alive and well in Afghanistan, despite the efforts of Western nations to control it – At least according to NPR. I’m not especially convinced that the United States is doing much to control opium, and I don’t think it wants to.
The amount of land under opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan is at a record high, released Wednesday.
Opium production in 2013, meanwhile, rose 49 percent over 2012, according to the 2013 Afghanistan Opium Survey. The country is the world’s No. 1 poppy producer.
The report’s findings come as Western troops prepare to leave Afghanistan in 2014 more than a decade after they deposed the Taliban and attempted to bring stability to the country.
When writer Steve Martin started collecting antique pipes and related ephemera from the age of opium dens, he began a journey that would end with a full-blown addiction to a drug most people thought died away in the 19th century. Martin discovered a hidden world where opium smoking still flourished and soon found that he had difficulty leaving it. Check out a fascinating interview with Martin at Collectors Weekly.
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“It took a while to really understand what I had. At first, of course, there were these opium dens in Laos that I could get to quite easily. Vientiane was an overnight train ride from Bangkok, where I was living. I would take tools up to the opium dens and see if the old smokers there knew what they were. Often they did, although they hadn’t seen some of the pieces in years and years.
Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan -- In a far flung corner of northern Afghanistan, Aziza reaches into the dark wooden cupboard, rummages around, and pulls out a small lump of something wrapped in plastic. She unwraps it, breaking off a small chunk as if it were chocolate, and feeds it to four-year-old son, Omaidullah. It's his breakfast -- a lump of pure opium. "If I don't give him opium he doesn't sleep," she says. "And he doesn't let me work."...
Sometimes the news speaks for itself. I have long contended that one of the main reasons we are in Afghanistan is for the almighty opium poppy dollars.
It’s interesting that by 2000 the Taliban had cut the amount of poppy growth by 90%. But then, by 2002, poppy production increased by about the same amount. Coincidental timing, I’m sure, considering that something historically monumental happened between that time to give the United States a reason to go into Afghanistan.
This is from Al-Jazeera.net in 2008 on opium production:
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“The Afghanistan Opium Survey 2008, made public by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) on Wednesday indicated that there was a decline of 19 per cent in the areas known for poppy cultivation.
The report, also released in conjunction with the Afghan Ministry of Counter Narcotics, said that in the past year five more provinces had become “poppy-free” raising the total to 18 of 34 provinces where poppy cultivation has been stamped out.
It was common during the opening of the Iraq war to see slogans proclaiming “No blood for oil!” The cover story for the war – Saddam’s links with Al Qaida and his weapons of mass destruction – were obvious mass deceptions, hiding a far less palatable imperial agenda. The truth was that Iraq was a major producer of oil and, in our age, the Age of Oil, oil is the most strategic resource of all. For many it was obvious that the real agenda of the war was an imperialistic grab for Iraqi oil. This was confirmed when Iraq’s state-owned oil company was privatised to western interests in the aftermath of the invasion.
Why then are there no slogans saying “No blood for opium!”? Afghanistan’s major product is opium and opium production has increased remarkably during the present war. The current NATO action around Marjah is clearly motivated by opium. It is reported to be Afghanistan’s main opium-producing area.… Read the rest