Each year, the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime releases a report covering opium production around the world and in Afghanistan, the world’s leading producer of illicit Opiates. Opium production within the Afghan borders has been on the rise since 2001, when the United States invaded the country and usurped Taliban control of the state (the Taliban had completely eradicated poppy production in a single year). In 2014, while yield was slightly off-peak, the land area used to grow Afghanistan’s most popular and lucrative crop has never been higher.
Poppy fields presently cover 224,000 hectares of land in the embattled country; equating to over 20% of the total cultivated land area of the country. That’s right – over 1/5 of Afghan farm land is dedicated to providing the rest of the world with opium-derived substances. To put that into perspective, consider that 224,000 hectares is enough poppy fields to fill either Israel or Haiti completely. Or almost the entirety of the smaller Caribbean Islands. New York City (78,550 hectares), one of the most populous cities in the world could be covered almost 3x over with Afghan poppy fields. In fact, New York AND Los Angeles could easily be covered in 2014’s growing area. Poppy fields are so commonplace in Afghanistan, it’s almost impossible to not have seen the pictures (more) (even more) of US Soldiers passing through waist-high Poppy during patrols over the past several years.
Despite the clarity of the UN report, when it comes to US politicians addressing the endless, costly, unjust war on drugs, everyone is seen scratching their heads like the drugs are coming from an enigmatic source in a distant galaxy. It’s clear to just about every informed person on the planet that something fishy is going on in Afghanistan. The UN report outlines where the opium is grown, who grows it, how much grows, which dates it is harvested and how it leaves the country. Despite this wealth of information, the United States, one of the predominant leaders in the international war(s)-on-ideologies (drugs & terror) has been out-smarted and out-farmed by the simple, tribal peoples of Afghanistan. Poppy fields flourish year after year, with eradication efforts declining significantly (-63% from previous year in 2014). It would seem that Afghan opium (processed into morphine, then heroin or counterfeit prescription pills for foreign markets) is a yet another problem that is not meant to be solved. Annihilating global narcotics trafficking organizations, the markets they serve and the terrorists they fund apparently isn’t a high priority. The United States would rather wait until billions in drug-profits are transformed into machine guns, bombs, RPGs and convoys of Toyotas (filled with angry, sociopathic maniacs) before they take action. Instead of tearing down fields of Poppies (something the pre-9/11 Taliban was able to accomplish in a single growing season), they send soldiers overseas to fight battles in Iraq and Afghanistan that now need to be re-fought. Narcotics profits have been the single biggest boon to terror organizations and policymakers have yet to figure out that narco-terror is a hydra who’s heads will keep regrowing unless the source of power is destroyed once and for all. Within our government, allegedly exists the top minds in law, policy, and essentially, problem-solving. Yet, when faced with the challenge of international networks of money, drugs and weapons over the past 50 years, they are made to look inept. Meanwhile, the American people look on in horror, mouths agape, wondering…”are they doing this on purpose?”
One only has to look into the history of state-complicity in drug trafficking to answer that question…but for now, look into the UNODC Afghan Opium Survey graphics. The full report is worth a read and available online, here.