The "War on Drugs" and the "War on Terror" are more linked than that media and our chosen officials would like us to think.
And this became full front and center when the U.S.-led global crusades overlapped in Afghanistan, leaving in their wake a heritage of death, dependency and government corruption tainting Afghan and American soil.
In the United States, the War in Afghanistan is among the significant contributing elements to the country's devastating heroin epidemic.
Over 10,000 people in America died of heroin-related overdoses in 2014 alone-- an epidemic fuelled partly by the low expense and accessibility of among the world's most addictive, and fatal drugs.
Regardless of our pledges to get rid of the black market, the U.S. actually allows the controlled substance trade. As journalist Abby Martin composes, the U.S. government has actually had a long history of assisting in the global drug trade: In the 1950s, it allowed opium to be moved, processed and trafficked throughout the Golden Triangle in Southeast Asia while it trained Taiwanese soldiers to combat Communist China. In the 80s, the CIA supplied logistical and financial support to anti-Communist Contras in Nicaragua who were also recognized worldwide drug traffickers.
Given that the DEA got the boot from the Bolivian government in 2008, cocaine production in that nation has actually gradually fallen every year.
And in 2012, a Mexican federal government authorities declared that rather than battling drug traffickers, the CIA and other global security forces are in fact trying to "handle the drug trade."
" It's like pest control business, they only control," Guillermo Terrazas Villanueva, the Chihuahua representative, informed Al Jazeera. "If you finish off the insects, you run out a task. If they complete the drug business, they complete their tasks."
While there is no conclusive evidence that the CIA is physically running opium from Afghanistan, Martin notes:
" It's difficult to think that an area under complete US military profession-- with guard posts and monitoring drones keeping an eye on the mountains of Tora Bora-- aren't able to track supply paths of opium exported from the country's numerous poppy farms (you know, the ones the United States military are safeguarding).".
Ironically, it was the United States objective to wipe out the Taliban in the "War on Terror" that turned Afghanistan into a "narco state.".
Prior to the War in Afghanistan, the Taliban in fact offered subsidies to farmers to grow food crops not drugs.
In the summertime of 2000, Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar revealed a total restriction on the growing of opium poppy, the plant from which heroin is made. Those captured planting poppies in Taliban-controlled parts of the nation were beaten and marched through towns with oil on their faces.
The only opium harvest the following spring remained in the northeast, in a location controlled by the Taliban's competitors, the Northern Alliance. That year, as Matthieu Aikins reported for Rolling Stone in 2012, "Opium production fell from an approximated 3,276 tons in 2000 to 185 lots in 2001.".
However then 9/11 hit and the Bush administration pressed into Afghanistan as soon as again, bring the banner of the "War on Terror.".
" When the Taliban ran away or went into hiding, the farmers lost their financial backing to grow food, and went back to growing heroin, a crop that prospers in areas of Afghanistan," as Dr. Steven Kassels noted in a 2015 piece for Social Justice Solutions.
Seeking a "light footprint" in Afghanistan, the U.S. and our allies teamed up with exactly what Aikins refers to as "anti-Taliban warlords." Aikins reported: "Within 6 months of the United States invasion, the warlords we backed were running the opium trade, and the spring of 2002 saw a bumper harvest of 3,400 loads.".
That's right: The War in Afghanistan saw the nation's virtually dead opium market broadened considerably. By 2014, Afghanistan was producing twice as much opium as it did in 2000. By 2015, Afghanistan was the source of 90 percent of the world's opium poppy.
Since 2001, the U.S. has put billions into counternarcotics programs in Afghanistan. How could this market flourish right under the nose of the U.S. and our allies? Well, rather just, due to the fact that we let it: Aikins alleges that the DEA, FBI, the Justice Department and the Treasury ALL learnt about their corrupt allies in the nation, but not did anything to pursue them due to the fact that it would have hindered the troop surge.
" The drug is braided with the highest levels of the Afghan federal government and the economy in a manner that makes the drug business in Escobar-era Colombia appear like a sideshow," Aikins composes, later keeping in mind: "On the ground, American leaders' short-term imperatives of fight operations and logistics trumped other consultants' long-term issues over corruption, narcotics and human rights abuses, each time.".
But where did it all go? Well, as Aikins reported, Afghanistan's "borders leakage opium like screens into 5 neighboring nations."
The increased supply flooded European, Asian and Middle Eastern markets. And with Europe no longer connecting to opium producers in South America and Mexico, that excess flooded the American market. Costs fell all over, making heroin alarmingly low-cost and alarmingly accessible.
And this is where we find ourselves today: Heroin, among the most addicting and lethal compounds on Earth, can be discovered for as little a $4 a bag in some American cities.
Between 2002 and 2013, heroin-related overdose deaths quadrupled. In 2014, more than 10,000 people passed away of heroin overdoses in America. Should we add these casualties to the 3,504 U.S. and coalition soldiers who died in the war, or the 26,000 dead Afghan civilians?
And heroin use is up throughout the whole population. Age, sex, race, income, place-- it does not matter. And, as the CDC notes, "A few of the best boosts took place in group groups with historically low rates of heroin use: women, the privately insured, and individuals with greater incomes.".
Sadly, it's not just the United States suffering under the weight of a heroin addiction that's hit epidemic percentages: Afghanistan, which has a long cultural custom of cigarette smoking opium, is dealing not just with its status as a "narco state," as Aikins explained it, however likewise with the health and social ills stemming from increased heroin usage.
In the process of waging a "War on Terror," we lost the "War on Drugs." Both wars deal in corruption and violence, and they put real human lives on the line-- not just on the battlefield, however in the fields where farmers cultivate crops and in the neighborhoods where individuals live.
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