I have noticed that the opium production has hit a record high in Afghanistan….but it seems like it hits a record high every year….
Opium poppy cultivation has hit a record high in Afghanistan, according to a report from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and Afghanistan’s Ministry of Counter Narcotics. The milestone is just the latest in a long string of failures associated with Washington’s 16-year war in Afghanistan and its even longer ;war on drugs.
The U.S. has spent more than $100 billion on reconstruction in Afghanistan since 2002, and more than $8 billion on counternarcotics efforts alone. Yet while 750 hectares of poppy fields have been eradicated there this year, another 328,000 hectares were cultivated in 2017—up from 201,000 hectares in 2016.
According to the U.N., the average yield this year has been about 27 kilograms per hectare—up from 23 kilograms last year. And three formerly poppy-free provinces are once again hosting poppy fields.
And then I read a story about a US airstrike that hit a Taleban opium processing plant……
In a move Pentagon officials say is directed at Taliban revenue streams, US F-22 stealth fighters and B-52 Stratofortress bombers attacked what they’re describing as “opium labs” in the northern part of the Helmand Province.
A pair of buildings were destroyed in the attack, which Gen. John Nicholson claimed caused “minimal collateral damage.” Nicholson noted there was a third building they didn’t attack, claiming it was to avoid civilian casualties.
Mich of Helmand Province is dedicated to opium farming, which is why the Taliban has long been interested in controlling the area. This talk of labs and factories is new, however, and it’s not clear what these buildings were actually for.
It’s been a recurring problem for the Pentagon that claims of destroying important militant facilities in airstrikes don’t ultimately prove to be true, and with recent reports of strikes destroying “ISIS bomb factories” actually just leveling a pair of civilian homes, this new claim of labs may be taken with a grain of salt.
Here is a novel idea….why not destroy the crop in the field and avoid any screw ups trying to take out a factory?
Is that too complicated for the master minds that run our Afghan desk?