By John Jiggens in Australia:
18 March 2010
It was common during the opening of the Iraq war to see slogans proclaiming “No blood for oil!” The cover story for the war — Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s links with Al Qaeda and his weapons of mass destruction — were obvious mass deceptions, hiding a far less palatable imperial agenda.
Why then, are there no slogans saying “No blood for opium”?
Afghanistan’s major product is opium and opium production has increased remarkably during the present war. The current NATO military offensive around Marjah in Hemand province, reported to be Afghanistan’s main opium-producing area, is clearly motivated by opium.
Yet it remains a curious fact that the opium trade has tracked across southern Asia for the past five decades from east to west, following US wars and always under the control of US assets.
In the 1960s, when the US fought a secret war in Laos using the Hmong opium army of Vang Pao as its proxy, south-east Asia produced 70% of the world’s illicit opium.
After the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, opium production in areas of Afghanistan controlled by US-backed drug lords took off until it rivalled Southeast Asian production.
Since 2002, Afghan opium production, encouraged by both the Taliban and US-backed drug lords, has reached 93% of world illicit production, an unparalleled performance.
The 2008 United Nations World Drug Report showed the astonishing increase in Afghan opium production that followed the US invasion. In 2001, Afghanistan’s share of global illicit opium production was 185 metric tons out of the global total of 1630 metric tons.
By 2007, this had skyrocketed to more than 8200 metric tons of the nearly 8870 metric ton global total.
In the 1980s, the US supported Islamic fundamentalists, the Mujahideen, against the Soviets in Afghanistan. To pay for their war, the Mujahideen ordered peasants to grow opium.
Across the border in Pakistan, Afghan leaders and local syndicates, under the protection of Pakistani intelligence, operated hundreds of heroin labs.
As the Golden Crescent in south-west Asia eclipsed the Golden Triangle in south-east Asia as the centre of the heroin trade, it sent rates of addiction spiralling in Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan and the former Soviet Union.
To hide US complicity in the drug trade, Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) officers were required to look away from the drug-dealing intrigues of US allies — and the support they received from Pakistan’s Inter Service Intelligence (ISI) and the services of Pakistani banks.
The CIA’s mission was to destabilise the Soviet Union through the promotion of militant Islam inside the central Asian republics and the drug war was sacrificed to fight the Cold War.
Afghanistan also biggest hashish producer: here.
Also from Australia:
BRISBANE — Despite the postponement of US President Barack Obama’s visit to Australia until June, a rally protesting against his government’s war policies took place on March 19, the seventh anniversary of the US-led allied invasion of Iraq.
T. Christian Miller of ProPublica, the independent on-line investigative news operation, and Mark Hosenball and Ron Moreau of Newsweek, are reporting today that $6 Billion Later, Afghan Cops Aren’t Ready to Serve: here.
Thousands of of anti-war protesters marched through Washington and other cities across the US on Saturday to press the Obama administration to withdraw troops from Afghanistan and Iraq immediately: here.
A British soldier was jailed this month for refusing to participate in the military occupation of Afghanistan and for his involvement in anti-war protests: here.
As far as I can tell, no media outlets whatsoever have picked up on the recent announcement (below, courtesy of a UN news agency) from the UN Secretary-General. The latest figures on internally displaced persons demonstrate the utter disaster which the war in Afghanistan has brought for a wide swath of the population: here.
WHILE hundreds of Afghan civilians are being killed in General Petraeus’ Afghan surge, and British and US casualties escalate upwards despite the ‘victories’ being achieved, the Afghan President, Hamid Karzai – who retained the presidency when a second round election run off was cancelled after the first round was declared to be rigged – has been holding peace talks with a pro-Taleban delegation in Kabul, under the noses of the US-UK military: here.
The number of Afghans applying for asylum jumped dramatically last year making them the largest group seeking official sanctuary abroad, the UN refugee agency has said: here.
The Canadian military has stopped reporting when soldiers are wounded in battle in Afghanistan and will instead deliver annual statistics to the public: here.
Tom Hayden on the Afghan war: here.
Afghanistan, Colombia, Vietnam: The Deep Politics of Drugs and Oil: here.