More Good News From Afghanistan

#1
Full Article - http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2007/08/07/afghan_heroin/?source=whitelist#share

It's easy for soldiers to score heroin in Afghanistan
Simultaneously stressed and bored, U.S. soldiers are turning to the widely available drug for a quick escape.

By Shaun McCanna

Aug. 7, 2007 | BAGRAM, Afghanistan -- Just outside the main gate to Bagram airfield, a U.S. military installation in Afghanistan, sits a series of small makeshift shops known by locals as the Bagram Bazaar. For Afghans, it is the place to buy American goods, but the stalls that make up the heart of the bazaar are also well known for what they provide American soldiers stationed at Bagram. Walking through the bazaar it takes less than 10 minutes for a vendor in his early 20s to step out and ask, "You want whiskey?" "No, heroin," I tell him. He ushers me into his store with a smile.

The shop is small, 9 feet wide by 14 feet deep, and dark. The walls at the front are lined with dusty cans of soda, padlocks and miscellaneous beauty supplies. As we enter, a teenager is visible at the back, seated in a chair next to a collection of American military knives and flashlights. The shopkeeper speaks to him in Dari. The teen stands and heads for the door, where he stops and asks my Afghan driver a question. My driver translates, "He wants to know how much you want? Twenty, 30, 50 dollars' worth?" From past experience, for I have arranged this same transaction a dozen times in a dozen different Bagram Bazaar shops, I know that the $30 bag will contain enough pure to bring hundreds of dollars on the streets of any American city. Afghanistan, after all, is the source of 90 percent of the world's heroin. I say 30 and the teen jogs off.

The true extent of the heroin problem among American soldiers now serving in Iraq and Afghanistan is unknown. At Bagram, according to a written statement provided by a spokesperson for the base, Army Maj. Chris Belcher, the "Military Police receive few reports of alcohol or drug issues." The military has statistics on how many troops failed drug tests, but the best information on long-term addiction comes from the U.S. Veterans Administration. The VA is the world's largest provider of substance abuse services, caring for more than 350,000 veterans per year, of whom about 30,000 are being treated for opiate addiction. Only preliminary information for Iraq and Afghanistan is available, however, and veterans of those conflicts are not yet showing up in the stats. According to the VA's annual "Yellowbook" report on substance abuse, during Fiscal Year 2006, fewer than 9,000 veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan) sought treatment for substance abuse of all kinds at the VA; the report did not specify how many were treated for opiate abuse.

Experts think it could be a decade before the true scope of heroin use in Iraq and Afghanistan is known. Dr. Jodie Trafton, a healthcare specialist with the VA's Center for Health Care Evaluation in Palo Alto, Calif., says it takes five or 10 years after a conflict for veterans to enter the system in significant numbers. The VA has recently seen a surge in cases from the first U.S. war in Iraq. "We're just starting to get a lot of Gulf War veterans," she explains. For the first few years after a conflict, it's hard to gauge the number of soldiers who've developed a substance problem. Young soldiers especially, says Dr. Trafton, tend not to seek treatment unless pushed by family members. Left to their own devices, "usually people don't show up for treatment till much later."

The anecdotal information, however, suggests there may be a wave of new patients coming, and it will include many heroin users. I'm a filmmaker, and I have been to Afghanistan several times to research a film about a soldier who died there under murky circumstances. Before his death, the soldier, John Torres, had told friends and family of widespread heroin use at Bagram. Based on my own experience, despite the hundreds of millions of dollars the Bush administration has spent on opium poppy eradication, Torres was right. I asked to buy heroin a dozen times during two trips a year apart and never heard the word "no"; I also saw ample evidence that soldiers were trading sensitive military equipment, like computer drives and bulletproof vests, for drugs. Other soldiers who have served at Bagram agree: Heroin, they say "is everywhere." And although they haven't shown up in the statistics yet, reports from methadone clinics suggest the VA's future patients may already be back in the States in force. Much like the caskets that return to the Dover Air Force base in the dead of night, America's new addicts are returning undetected.
 
#2
Double edged sword...

Article

WASHINGTON - Afghanistan will produce another record poppy harvest this year that cements its status as the world's near-sole supplier of the heroin source, yet a furious debate over how to reverse the trend is stalling proposals to cut the crop, U.S. officials say.


As President Bush prepares for weekend talks with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, divisions within the U.S. administration and among NATO allies have delayed release of a $475 million counternarcotics program for Afghanistan, where intelligence officials see growing links between drugs and the Taliban, the officials said.

U.N. figures to be released in September are expected to show that Afghanistan's poppy production has risen up to 15 percent since 2006 and that the country now accounts for 95 percent of the world's crop, 3 percentage points more than last year, officials familiar with preliminary statistics told The Associated Press.

But counterdrug proposals by some U.S. officials have met fierce resistance, including boosting the amount of forcible poppy field destruction in provinces that grow the most, officials said. The approach also would link millions of dollars in development aid to benchmarks on eradication; arrests and prosecutions of narcotraders, corrupt officials; and on alternative crop production.

Those ideas represent what proponents call an "enhanced carrot-and-stick approach" to supplement existing anti-drug efforts. They are the focus of the new $475 million program outlined in a 995-page report, the release of which has been postponed twice and may be again delayed due to disagreements, officials said.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because parts of the report remain classified.

Counternarcotics agents at the State Department had wanted to release a 123-page summary of the strategy last month and then again last week, but were forced to hold off because of concerns it may not be feasible, the officials said.

Now, even as Bush sees Karzai on Sunday and Monday at the presidential retreat in Camp David, Md., a tentative release date of Aug. 9, timed to follow the meetings, appears in jeopardy. Some in the administration, along with NATO allies Britain and Canada, seek revisions that could delay it until at least Aug. 13, the officials said.

The program represents a 13 percent increase over the $420 million in U.S. counternarcotics aid to Afghanistan last year. It would adopt a bold new approach to "coercive eradication" and set out criteria for local officials to receive development assistance based on their cooperation, the officials said.

Although the existing aid, supplemented mainly by Britain and Canada and supported by the NATO force in Afghanistan, has achieved some results — notably an expected rise in the number of "poppy-free" provinces from six to at least 12 and possibly 16, mainly in the north — production elsewhere has soared, they said.

"Afghanistan is providing close to 95 percent of the world's heroin," the State Department's top counternarcotics official, Tom Schweich, said at a recent conference. "That makes it almost a sole-source supplier" and presents a situation "unique in world history."

Almost all the heroin from Afghanistan makes its way to Europe; most of the heroin in the U.S. comes from Latin America.

Afghanistan last year accounted for 92 percent of global opium production, compared with 70 percent in 2000 and 52 percent a decade earlier. The higher yields in Afghanistan brought world production to a record high of 7,286 tons in 2006, 43 percent more than in 2005.

A State Department inspector general's report released Friday noted that the counternarcotics assistance is dwarfed by the estimated $38 billion "street value" of Afghanistan's poppy crop, if all is converted to heroin, and said eradication goals were "not realistic."

Schweich, an advocate of the now-stalled plan, has argued for more vigorous eradication efforts, particularly in southern Helmand province, responsible for some 80 percent of Afghanistan's poppy production. It is where, he says, growers must be punished for ignoring good-faith appeals to switch to alternative, but less lucrative, crops.

"They need to be dealt with in a more severe way," he said at the conference sponsored by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "There needs to be a coercive element, that's something we're not going to back away from or shy away from."

But, in fact, many question whether this is the right approach with Afghanistan mired in poverty and in the throes of an insurgency run by the Taliban and residual al-Qaida forces.

Along with Britain, whose troops patrol Helmand, elements in the State Department, U.S. Agency for International Development, the Defense Department and White House Office of National Drug Control Policy have expressed concern, saying that more raids will drive farmers with no other income to join extremists.

There is also skepticism about the incentives in the new strategy from those who believe development assistance should not be denied to local communities because of poppy growth, officials said.

Opponents argue that the benefits of such aid, new roads and other infrastructure, schools and hospitals, will themselves be powerful tools to combat the narcotrade once constructed.

One U.S. official said the plan was a good one but might take another year or two before it can be effectively introduced.
Pretty bad when our troops are dying and the poppies increase...(Flanders Fields...Ironic eh! )

Edit: hope you don't mind my adding this, but they are related....
 
#3
AfterSSE said:
Double edged sword...

Article

WASHINGTON - Afghanistan will produce another record poppy harvest this year that cements its status as the world's near-sole supplier of the heroin source, yet a furious debate over how to reverse the trend is stalling proposals to cut the crop, U.S. officials say.


As President Bush prepares for weekend talks with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, divisions within the U.S. administration and among NATO allies have delayed release of a $475 million counternarcotics program for Afghanistan, where intelligence officials see growing links between drugs and the Taliban, the officials said.

U.N. figures to be released in September are expected to show that Afghanistan's poppy production has risen up to 15 percent since 2006 and that the country now accounts for 95 percent of the world's crop, 3 percentage points more than last year, officials familiar with preliminary statistics told The Associated Press.

But counterdrug proposals by some U.S. officials have met fierce resistance, including boosting the amount of forcible poppy field destruction in provinces that grow the most, officials said. The approach also would link millions of dollars in development aid to benchmarks on eradication; arrests and prosecutions of narcotraders, corrupt officials; and on alternative crop production.

Those ideas represent what proponents call an "enhanced carrot-and-stick approach" to supplement existing anti-drug efforts. They are the focus of the new $475 million program outlined in a 995-page report, the release of which has been postponed twice and may be again delayed due to disagreements, officials said.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because parts of the report remain classified.

Counternarcotics agents at the State Department had wanted to release a 123-page summary of the strategy last month and then again last week, but were forced to hold off because of concerns it may not be feasible, the officials said.

Now, even as Bush sees Karzai on Sunday and Monday at the presidential retreat in Camp David, Md., a tentative release date of Aug. 9, timed to follow the meetings, appears in jeopardy. Some in the administration, along with NATO allies Britain and Canada, seek revisions that could delay it until at least Aug. 13, the officials said.

The program represents a 13 percent increase over the $420 million in U.S. counternarcotics aid to Afghanistan last year. It would adopt a bold new approach to "coercive eradication" and set out criteria for local officials to receive development assistance based on their cooperation, the officials said.

Although the existing aid, supplemented mainly by Britain and Canada and supported by the NATO force in Afghanistan, has achieved some results — notably an expected rise in the number of "poppy-free" provinces from six to at least 12 and possibly 16, mainly in the north — production elsewhere has soared, they said.

"Afghanistan is providing close to 95 percent of the world's heroin," the State Department's top counternarcotics official, Tom Schweich, said at a recent conference. "That makes it almost a sole-source supplier" and presents a situation "unique in world history."

Almost all the heroin from Afghanistan makes its way to Europe; most of the heroin in the U.S. comes from Latin America.

Afghanistan last year accounted for 92 percent of global opium production, compared with 70 percent in 2000 and 52 percent a decade earlier. The higher yields in Afghanistan brought world production to a record high of 7,286 tons in 2006, 43 percent more than in 2005.

A State Department inspector general's report released Friday noted that the counternarcotics assistance is dwarfed by the estimated $38 billion "street value" of Afghanistan's poppy crop, if all is converted to heroin, and said eradication goals were "not realistic."

Schweich, an advocate of the now-stalled plan, has argued for more vigorous eradication efforts, particularly in southern Helmand province, responsible for some 80 percent of Afghanistan's poppy production. It is where, he says, growers must be punished for ignoring good-faith appeals to switch to alternative, but less lucrative, crops.

"They need to be dealt with in a more severe way," he said at the conference sponsored by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "There needs to be a coercive element, that's something we're not going to back away from or shy away from."

But, in fact, many question whether this is the right approach with Afghanistan mired in poverty and in the throes of an insurgency run by the Taliban and residual al-Qaida forces.

Along with Britain, whose troops patrol Helmand, elements in the State Department, U.S. Agency for International Development, the Defense Department and White House Office of National Drug Control Policy have expressed concern, saying that more raids will drive farmers with no other income to join extremists.

There is also skepticism about the incentives in the new strategy from those who believe development assistance should not be denied to local communities because of poppy growth, officials said.

Opponents argue that the benefits of such aid, new roads and other infrastructure, schools and hospitals, will themselves be powerful tools to combat the narcotrade once constructed.

One U.S. official said the plan was a good one but might take another year or two before it can be effectively introduced.
Pretty bad when our troops are dying and the poppies increase...(Flanders Fields...Ironic eh! )

Edit: hope you don't mind my adding this, but they are related....

The two articles are absolutely related.................just appalled to see that our British dead and wounded have revived the Afghan agricultural sector so well.......and at least we haven't given them Foot and Mouth yet.




RM
 
#4
If there can be a Dutch Elm disease and the like, surely we must have the means to figure out a bug that can wipe out poppy plantations?
 
#5
Physically wiping out the crops is not the problem, it's a PR problem, while trying to rid the country of Taliban and just plain old terrorists, we have to try and win the minds and hearts of the "locals" , and one way to do that is "not" destroy their crops.

It is more lucrative for the Afghan farmer to grow poppies then it is wheat, so until they can make the same amount, they will always try and grow poppies.

It's the old supply and demand problem, if there were no demand the supply would dry up, if the EU and North America (with Columbia) really got serious, they would be trying to stop the importation of this stuff before it left the host countries, to do this they would need to grease a lot of palms, in Afghanistan it's the Dru*** err Warlords...in Columbia it's the rebels.

Until there is mass cooperation amongst everyone, this problem is not going away anytime soon, so just as we are protecting the oil fields in Iraq, we are protecting the poppy fields in Afghanistan. Haven't you ever heard of Air America, during the 70's and the Golden Triangle, other people have agendas in regards to this stuff as well as the locals...

Puts on tinfoil hat...
 
#6
AfterSSE said:
Physically wiping out the crops is not the problem, it's a PR problem, while trying to rid the country of Taliban and just plain old terrorists, we have to try and win the minds and hearts of the "locals" , and one way to do that is "not" destroy their crops.

It is more lucrative for the Afghan farmer to grow poppies then it is wheat, so until they can make the same amount, they will always try and grow poppies.

It's the old supply and demand problem, if there were no demand the supply would dry up, if the EU and North America (with Columbia) really got serious, they would be trying to stop the importation of this stuff before it left the host countries, to do this they would need to grease a lot of palms, in Afghanistan it's the Dru*** err Warlords...in Columbia it's the rebels.

Until there is mass cooperation amongst everyone, this problem is not going away anytime soon, so just as we are protecting the oil fields in Iraq, we are protecting the poppy fields in Afghanistan. Haven't you ever heard of Air America, during the 70's and the Golden Triangle, other people have agendas in regards to this stuff as well as the locals...

Puts on tinfoil hat...


The country most affected by the huge influx of Afghan heroin is Iran. They have an under-reported heroin addiction problem that is worsening daily. The Iranians are also one of the few countries that are trying to do something about the problem. They lose hundreds [no exaggeration] of border-police every year trying to hold back the flow across the porous Afghan and Pakistan borders.

The smugglers are heavily armed and will engage anyone who tries to stop them with heavy weapons and aggressive tactics. There are a lot of hidden agendas in play here and for certain there is one particular country which has a good reason to keep a steady supply of heroin flowing and to see Iran suffer. That country has used heroin and cocaine as weapons in many other conflict zones over the past 50 years.

RM
 
#7
Bergen said:
The country most affected by the huge influx of Afghan heroin is Iran. They have an under-reported heroin addiction problem that is worsening daily. The Iranians are also one of the few countries that are trying to do something about the problem. They lose hundreds [no exaggeration] of border-police every year trying to hold back the flow across the porous Afghan and Pakistan borders.

The smugglers are heavily armed and will engage anyone who tries to stop them with heavy weapons and aggressive tactics. There are a lot of hidden agendas in play here and for certain there is one particular country which has a good reason to keep a steady supply of heroin flowing and to see Iran suffer. That country has used heroin and cocaine as weapons in many other conflict zones over the past 50 years.

RM

Thats true, I wasn't paying attention to that aspect in regards to Iran, I was mostly remembering what went on during the Soviet occupation and how the mujahadeen were able to finance their activities with the help of you know who...but yeah, when you dig even further you can actually lump in El Salvador and a few other countries in with this type of persuasion..from you know who, I feel like Agent 86, ooops there goes my shoe phone....
 

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