Wednesday, February 27th, 2008

view over the opium fields

Russia is accusing:

. . . the U.S. military of involvement in the heroin trafficking from Afghanistan to Europe. The Vesti channel’s report from Afghanistan said that drugs from Afghanistan were hauled by American transport aircraft to the U.S. airbases Ganci in Kyrgyzstan and Incirlik in Turkey.

. . .

Russia today has about six million drug-users – a 20-fold increase since the collapse of the Soviet Union and a huge figure for a country of 142 million people.
. . .
Narco business has emerged as virtually the only economy of Afghanistan and is valued at some $10 billion a year. Opium trade is estimated by the U.N. to be equivalent to 53 per cent of the country’s official economy and is helping to finance the Taliban.
. . .
One of the best-informed Russian journalists on Central Asia, Arkady Dubnov, recently quoted anonymous Afghan sources as saying that “85 per cent of all drugs produced in southern and southeastern provinces are shipped abroad by U.S. aviation.”

This is something that needs to be watched very carefully. As Mahmood Mamdani writes in Good Muslim, Bad Muslim, in the words of David Musto, White House advisor on drug policy, regarding the opium crop in Afghanistan back when the Soviets invaded:

“Are we erring in befriending these tribes as we did in Laos when Air America (chartered by the Central Intelligence Agency) helped transport crude opium from certain tribal areas.”

. . . “we were going into Afghanistan to support the opium growers in their rebellion against the Soviets. Shouldn’t we try to avoid what we had done in Laos?”

. . . Musto’s concerns went unheeded.

. . . as the CIA knew too well from experience, nothing could rival the drug trade as a reliable source of big money for covert warfare.
. . . “so the agency’s aid to the mujahideen guerrillas in the 1980s expanded opium production in Afghanistan and linked Pakistan’s nearby heroin laboratories to the world market.”

The heroin economy literally poisoned Afghani and Pakistani life. The figures who thrived in this cesspool had been hailed by Ronald Reagan as “moral equivalents of America’s founding fathers.”
(Good Muslim, Bad Muslim, ISBN 978-0385515375, p.140-3)

Drugs are the quickest easiest way to fund covert operations. If the US military is once again involved, it is only a matter of time before covert military operations are expanded around the globe, based on available revenues. With the militarization of US policy in Africa that AFRICOM represents, this is a very worrying development. US officials and employees have been involved in the drug trade in Latin America, in Southeast Asia, and in Afghanistan. With the current problems West Africa is facing with drugs, mostly the transshipment of cocaine, it would not be a great leap for military, or for mercenary corporations in Africa to fund their activities, and look for profits in the drug trade in Africa. Drugs and guns are the same trade, used as currency for each other.

Bush slashed UN peacekeeping money for Africa just before visit is up at the African Loft.