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Monday, August 27, 2007

The Other War in Afghanistan: An Expensive Failure in Drug Policy

Poppies are covering the fields of Afghanistan as that country's opium production hit a record high this year, growing by 17%, following another record year in 2006, according to the UN and as reported by the NY Times today.
Despite a $600 million American counternarcotics effort and an increase in the number of poppy-free provinces from 6 to 13, the report found that Afghanistan still produces more narcotics than Colombia, Peru and Bolivia combined.

It now accounts for 93 percent of the world’s opium, up from 92 percent last year, the report said.

Antonio Maria Costa, the executive director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes Policy, which issued the report, called the new figures “terrifying.” “Afghanistan today is cultivating megacrops of opium,” he said at a news conference. “Leaving aside China in the 19th century, no other country has produced so much narcotics in the past 100 years.” [Emphasis mine]
To translate: Afghanistan is producing much more opium than it did before there were tens of thousands of US and NATO troops there (with much of their time spent eradicating poppy fields)and US taxpayers were funding a $600 million DEA enforcement operation.

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