Thursday, November 18

Afghanistan I hardly Knew you.

Last I heard you held elections, women are free to frolic in the streets sans Burka, and the kids love school, 'specially all the little girls, but the following sounds more like the hinterlands in Columbia, not the bastion of peace and democracy in the not so middle eastern land.
The Associated Press
Updated: 9:56 a.m. ET Nov. 18, 2004

BRUSSELS, Belgium - Afghanistan is on its way to becoming a “narco-state” and U.S. and NATO forces in the country should get involved in fighting the drug trade as well as terrorists, according to a U.N. report released Thursday. “It would be an historical error to abandon Afghanistan to opium, right after we reclaimed it from the Taliban and al-Qaida,” said Antonio Maria Costa, executive director of the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime.

The agency found that this year’s cultivation of opium — the raw material for heroin — was up by nearly two-thirds. Bad weather and disease kept production from setting a new record, although it still accounted for 87 percent of world supply, up from 76 percent in 2003.

The illegal trade is booming despite political progress in the country, including the first presidential election, and local drug-control efforts directed by British military advisers.
I seem to remember that the Taliban, reviled though they were (especially after they refused to cave into the demands of UniCal and the pipline they wanted) did manage to nearly eradicate Opium production, rather than turn it into
‘Main engine of economic growth’
Opium is now the “main engine of economic growth and the strongest bond among previously quarrelsome peoples,” according to the report. It valued the trade at $2.8 billion, or more than 60 percent of Afghanistan’s 2003 gross domestic product.
No if Free markets are good, shouldn't this be good? Oh right, drugs are bad, unless you are in the money laundering trade. This economics and politics and diplomacy stuff just confuses the bejiggers out of me. I guess it looks like something that they can be proud of, and us too by extension, after all we liberated them.
A double record
The Afghanistan Opium Survey 2004 found cultivation rose 64 percent over 2003, with 323,701 acres dedicated to the poppies that produce opium.

That set a double record, Costa said: “the highest drug cultivation in the country’s history, and the largest in the world.”

The total output of 4,200 tons was only 17 percent higher than last year because bad weather and disease reduced yields by almost 30 percent, the survey found. Still, 2004 production was close to the peak of 4,600 tons in 1999 — a year before the Taliban banned new cultivation.

By contrast, opium production in southeast Asia’s notorious “Golden Triangle” has diminished 75 percent and the region “may soon be declared drug free,” he said.

Most heroin from Afghanistan ends up on the streets of Europe.
Good it's there problem. Wheew, i feel like a target in the shooting gallery oops pun not intended. That Afghan heroin is better off in the streets of Paris and Berlin, than it is here in the good ole USA.