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Poppy Prejudice: The Problems Facing Afghan Reconstruction

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posted on Mar, 29 2008 @ 04:47 PM
Several months ago I wrote a term paper dealing with what I feel is the main roadblock on the path to Afghan reconstruction: the treatment of the poppy industry. Although the paper is not strongly conspiracy themed, it hints at a large conspiracy, due to the fact that current policies towards the plant (forced eradication) are scoffed at by scholars, think tanks, and journalists alike. I would even go as far as to say that the occupying forces are actually interested in a prolonged conflict, as most of the problems in rebuilding Afghanistan (as my essay will point out) stem from current attitudes towards the poppy (criminalization).

If NATO actually desires the demise of the Al Qaeda in Afghanistan it is clear that poppy decriminalization is paramount. The following posts will detail why and how this can and should take place.

[edit on 30-3-2008 by WuTang]

posted on Mar, 29 2008 @ 04:49 PM
The Poppies of Afghanistan

The poppy plant is a vibrant flower that grows in a range of bright colours. Since the end of the First World War, it has most commonly been associated with the remembrance of those who fought for us. The poppy itself has many uses. It is processed into morphine, codeine, and other modern painkillers. The seeds are used to make cooking oil. Mothers often boil the pods in a tea that will subdue even the loudest of tantrums . Conversely, it is also refined into opium and heroin, seriously addictive drugs that pose a large threat to most any modern society (especially in the case of the latter). Several countries of the world currently cultivate large amounts of the poppy plant; all having licences to do so legally (Australia, Turkey, the UK, and the USA being the most prominent). Although we may commonly associate the poppy with soldiers of the past, it is at the centre of the issues our soldiers face today.

One such place the poppy grows in abundance is the state of Afghanistan. Since the downfall of the Taliban, the poppy cultivation industry has seen several bumper crops. This is all to the chagrin of NATO forces, and America in particular. They treat the poppy industry exactly as they treat the coco industry in South America, labelling it as illegal and attempting to destroy it. This in turn creates a large problem, in that a large number of Afghan jobs are considered criminal. Great amounts of Afghanistan’s GDP can be attributed to this illicit industry, and great amounts of these illicit funds end up in the hands of Coalition enemies. What can be done when one of a country’s highest grossing industries is illegal, posing a direct threat to security forces, and creating a steep social cost to most other states? What should be done? This paper will explore various proposals on how to deal with these two seemingly distant, yet, in truth, intertwined problems – the reconstruction of a war-torn Afghanistan, and the world heroin trade. It will be argued that a legal, licensed poppy industry, improved agricultural and commercial infrastructure, enhanced alternative crop programs, a rebuilt legal system, increased security, and decreased corruption are the best strategies to combat these problems.

Why Poppies?
It is important to first understand the logistics of the poppy industry, as it is at the root of the issue. The poppy grows a seed pod from which a sap is collected. The sap is a rather raw form of opium, that be further refined into morphine and heroin. A very important attribute of this sap is that it is non-perishable: a farmer can store it for extended amounts of time, thus giving it an advantage over other crops. This is especially true in the war torn state of Afghanistan, as the unstable climate often makes it unsafe to transport goods. This is not the only factor in the prevalence of the poppy; climate is another. Poppies require very little water, and even then only at the earliest of stages of growth . This makes them ideal for the dry climate in Afghanistan, and even more so considering the current dilapidated nature of many Afghan irrigation systems . Wheat, the main competitor of the poppy, is one third as productive on non-irrigated land as it is on irrigated land (0.6 tons/hectare for non irrigated land compared to 1.8 tons/hectare for irrigated land) . For those farmers who have no access to irrigation, wheat has a tough time competing with the poppy. But the number one reason poppies are grown is a rather obvious one - money. One kilogram of refined plant can net approximately 300 USD. Compensation offered by NATO forces to discourage poppy growth is mere fractions of this . Farmers claim that if they cultivate the poppy, they are able to buy ten times the amount of wheat they could grow on the same land, as well as any other necessities they may need. Around 2.3 million of Afghanistan’s 30 million citizens work in poppy cultivation (not counting those involved in smuggling, financing, and other support roles). As of 2006, approximately 90% of the world’s heroin supply originated in Afghan poppy fields . In fact, the amount of money the industry brings into Afghanistan is equal to approximately 60% of their legal GDP . It is no wonder so many farmers choose the poppy. There has only ever been one observed modern instance of the poppy crop being sharply curbed: a previous Taliban crackdown (see Sidebar I).

2000-01 Taliban Poppy Ban
At the beginning of 2000, Afghanistan accounted for 70% of the world’s illicit opiates. Citing strong international pressure*, the Taliban officially declared Poppy cultivation illegal and immoral by issuing a fatwa (religious decree). The ban on poppy cultivation was enforced through jail sentences, public beatings, other public humiliations, and even death. This lead to a severe drop in poppies cultivated, and has been historically viewed as one of the most successful anti drug production policies ever instituted.
Source: International Journal of Drug Policy, Volume 16 Issue 2 pp 81-91
*It can be noted that due to the non perishable nature of opium, perhaps the Taliban officials created the ban only to enrich themselves. If, in their position of power, they were able to stockpile poppy extract, they could have taken advantage of the low supply driving up prices.

[edit on 29-3-2008 by WuTang]

[edit on 29-3-2008 by WuTang]

posted on Mar, 29 2008 @ 05:00 PM
What is Being Done?
Beyond immediate physical threats to farmers, what else can be done to create incentive not to grow poppies? Current methods of dealing with the explosion of poppy cultivation are inadequate at best. One of the first strategies used was a subsidized switch to wheat, attempted in several southern provinces. In one occasion, many farmers made the switch, but the money promised by the British government never arrived . This resulted in the first occasion of betrayal in what has become a very tumultuous relationship between the farmers of Afghanistan and NATO forces. Other attempts at subsidies have failed. As of 2005 an aid package of 30 – 40 million dollars was sent to combat the poppy industry , which in reality pales in comparison to the resources available to those involved in the industry.

Around 2004, Coalition forces proceeded to up their efforts, promoting an aggressive strategy of forced eradication (manually destroying the crops). The first examples of forced eradication utilized ground campaigns undertaken by Afghan National Soldiers (it is illegal under international law for foreign troops to destroy crops). This served to further distance the farmers in several ways. Primarily, the Afghan security forces in charge of the operation were implicated in accepting bribes to spare certain farmers fields . Tension between the poor and rich farmers grew, as the less wealthy could not afford to bribe officials. The briberies increased the economic disparity between the two groups, further fragmenting an unstable Afghan population. The second undesired result of forced eradication is that it directly aids the Taliban insurgency movement in Afghanistan. The disillusioned farmers often turn to the Taliban for help, evidenced in one instance in which four eradication vehicles were destroyed in a poppy field by Taliban landmines . The farmers often give the Taliban money for protection, and some whose fields were destroyed even vowed to join the insurgency . A field study by the Senlis Council has produced results that suggest there is a direct link between forced eradication and hostility towards coalition troops . In a Nation where communication between the Coalition and locals is integral, security forces simply cannot afford to further lose any fragile trust that may exist.

The third option to be proposed was that of aerial spraying. The US would like it to begin during the upcoming harvest (February ’08) . This is very similar to the policy currently employed in South America, where the CIA sprays coco fields with toxic herbicides. Currently, all major Coalition governments deny having undertaken any spraying whatsoever, although several eyewitness reports claim the contrary, even drawing criticism from several high level Afghan politicians . The few mystery sprays reported may soon become irrelevant however, if official spraying campaigns begin over large areas. This technique will further destabilize the region, destroying crops without so much as a face at the door to explain what is happening. There have also been questions raised as to the effects of these chemical sprays on livestock, other crops, and people. But even if spraying does not threaten people and agriculture, it will be used a propaganda tool by the insurgents every time a child is born sick, or a sheep dies mysteriously. Clearly this new policy of a perplexing death from above will upset and confuse farmers who are becoming increasingly aggressive and uncooperative towards Afghanistan’s young democracy.

What has been the result of current strategies?
The result of current strategies in poppy reduction is complete failure. Poppy production has reached record levels (see graph in sidebar I). The insurgency is far from being defeated. Afghani opiates dominate the world heroin market. Drug smugglers are amongst some of the most well connected men in the country, passing through checkpoints with relative ease . Criminalization has time and time again proved to do nothing but encourage the industry, and put the majority of its profits into the hands of organized crime and insurgent movements (reminiscent of US alcohol prohibition).

In looking at basic microeconomic elements of the market, it is no wonder that poppy production has skyrocketed. Every time a crop is destroyed or a shipment is confiscated, there is a short term shortage of poppy product on the market. This decrease in supply leads to a spike in demand, which in turn drives up the price. The already large disparity between the profits of a poppy crop versus that of a competitor such as wheat grows even more. At the beginning of a season, the farmer makes a choice of what to grow, and that decision is most often based chiefly on rational economic thought. Since the current major disincentive of poppy cultivation is the risk of forced eradication, the farmer would have to feel that the chances of his field surviving are less than ten percent, to rationally switch to another crop (one poppy crop yields the same profits as ten wheat crops). Forced eradication crews have reported eradication percentages ranging from one to five percent of total crop , meaning that the risk of a crop being destroyed is far less than even twenty percent. This number is nowhere near high enough to encourage a farmer to switch crops. It is like gambling on a game where the payout is ten times what you bet, and your chances of winning are 90% - clearly any rational thinking person will make that bet. The only effective deterrent ever seen in regards to criminalized poppy cultivation in Afghanistan was the extreme punishment scheme of the Taliban, but that is not an option for a young unstable democratic government backed by occupying forces. That is of course unless they seek to demonize their democracy and the coalition forces backing it throughout Afghanistan, and perhaps even the rest of the Muslim world.

posted on Mar, 29 2008 @ 05:01 PM
What should be done?
Two different policy areas will be examined in regards to the issue. The first is policy directed towards agricultural reform and poppy cultivation. This should involve a combination of subsidies, alternative crop programs, licensed poppy cultivation, and substantial infrastructure repairs to systems of irrigation, transportation, markets, and agricultural refineries (such as flower mills). The second set of policy recommendations are in the field of security. A widespread reduction in corruption is paramount to a stable Afghanistan, and a controlled poppy industry. This can be accomplished through repairing, and where none exist creating, legal systems and infrastructure; especially ones in which all are equal before the law, regardless of economic status. A strong coalition force must be dedicated to combating drug smuggling, especially in improving ineffective border crossings. A secure and firmly established social, economic, and political state of affairs in Afghanistan is integral to a successful reduction in world heroin supplies, and indeed a stronger and more prosperous Afghan agricultural sector.

The idea of a licensed, legal poppy industry has been dismissed by coalition forces, especially American policy setters. Many disagree however, and licit poppy industry proposals are gaining steam in the academic world, as well as in the media . The Senlis Council, a drug policy think tank (see Sidebar II), is leading the push towards a legal poppy market. This is a very important step in saving Afghanistan from further plight and in encouraging growth in the agricultural sector. By decriminalizing one of the nation’s highest grossing industries, the 2.3 million Afghans employed in the poppy cultivation industry will enjoy an increasingly stable job market. Revenue can be legally taxed and included in the nations GDP (although it is currently taxed by warlords in a semi-feudal style system). The rifts between those in the agricultural industry and security forces would begin to dissipate. The Taliban and insurgent forces would see less funding. More money would end up in the hands of Afghan citizens, as currently less than 10% of profits derived from the Afghan opiate industry stay in Afghanistan ($2.8 of an estimated $30 billion), with the remaining profits going to international drug smugglers and dealers . For this program to be successful there is a long list of developments that must take place in Afghanistan, to create a more stable atmosphere for licit poppy cultivation. However, not all the eggs can be placed in one basket. These steps need to also encourage and protect other agricultural industries, as diversity is a one of the most important requirements for a stable economy. Poppy sold for legal use is worth less than that sold for illegal use , which will move some away from the industry during the shift to a licensed system. Strong policies must be enacted to protect and support all agricultural industries, easing this shift into licit poppy cultivation. Before delving into the issues surrounding this scheme, a case study will be examined of a comparable transformation from an illegal to a legal poppy industry.

A program endorsing a switch to legal opiate production took place in Turkey during the 1970s. At the time Turkey was a major heroin exporter on the global market. This problem came to the world’s attention during the Vietnam War, where many US soldiers were increasingly abusing heroin and opium, and President Nixon was afraid that heroin would make its way into the homes of middle class Americans. A new program of licensed poppy harvesting in Turkey was supported by the UN and the US, after their original suggestion of forced eradication was refused by Turkey, who cited such a program would accomplish nothing more than creating a state of political instability. Within five years of implementing this new strategy of a licensed poppy industry, Turkey’s illegal opiate production problem was sharply curbed . Combined with international aid and preferential trade agreements, Turkey’ poppy industry has become one of the strongest in the world. The key difference between the situations in Turkey and Afghanistan, and indeed the obstacle standing in the way of a licensed Afghan poppy industry, is that of stability. Turkey in the 1970’s was comparatively much more stable than Afghanistan is today. Creating this secure political, economic and social climate in Afghanistan will allow a strong, stable agricultural industry to develop, which in turn will serve to further stabilize the country as whole.

One of the first projects to support the poppy program would be to develop infrastructure to refine the poppy into morphine. Currently poppy is refined into heroin in a plethora of decentralized drug labs . This needs to shift to a centralized, controlled facility, where the medicines produced can easily reach the global market. The facility can also house another important part of this new industry; those who regulate it. It is important to implement laws and policies regarding this crop. It must be heavily licensed, both to ensure large percentages of the crop are used for legal means, and also to comply with international law. In doling out these licences, we come across one of the first areas that require a decline in corruption – the licences must be distributed in a fair manner. The forced eradication program proved that corruption will further fragment society along economic boundaries. If those who hand out licenses are susceptible to bribery, we will see poor farmers continue to aid insurgents while growing poppy for illicit means, as they cannot afford to bribe officials for licences. This corruption can be prevented through a strict evaluation of employees, international monitoring, and a legal system willing and able to arrest and prosecute officials implicated in accepting bribes. The system must to be structured with transparency in mind, so as to allow investigations into corruption to proceed quickly and efficiently.

posted on Mar, 29 2008 @ 05:02 PM
Taking a step back from the poppy industry, we come across another level of infrastructure that must be upgraded in order to sustain all agricultural products. After a field of any crop is harvested, it must somehow make its way to the market. In Afghanistan, many roads are in poor shape or are too dangerous to transport goods. This is one of the factors contributing to the lack of alternatives to the poppy being grown today, as the harvested product is of a non perishable nature, so a farmer can easily wait to take his goods to market at a later date if it is currently unsafe to do so. Beyond the roads, many markets themselves are in shambles, or nearly empty. By upgrading commercial infrastructure, farmers will once again have a place to sell their goods to a variety of potential buyers. These improvements accomplish two things. In terms of the poppy industry, they provide a means for the poppy product to reach the centralized refinery. In the big picture of the agricultural sector as a whole, it will increase the prosperity of all farmers, as risk is reduced across the board. Providing markets and reducing transportation costs will certainly help to ease the shift into the more diversified agricultural market that will result from a licensed poppy cultivation program.

The diversification of the agricultural sector requires a few more nudges to get it moving. Viable alternatives to poppies must arise to create diversity. It is important to provide an adequate alternative to those who fail to obtain poppy licences. Many wheat farmers have been selling and refining their product outside of Afghanistan, as the countries system of flour mills is severely insufficient . This system of refineries must be upgraded to support the industry. It is also paramount to upgrade the countries dilapidated irrigation system, as most without proper access to irrigation will grow poppy whether they are licensed to or not. Another suggestion to be explored is the reduction of food aid, particularly flour. This may seem counterintuitive, but the large shipments of flour that flowed into Afghanistan after the war proved to lower the market price of flour by 15%, thus further discouraging farmers from growing wheat . Crop diversification projects must be better funded and executed. Events such as the failure of Britain to pay funds promised to farmers who moved away from poppy cultivation are inacceptable. These programs are vital in not only providing extra incentive to move away from illicit poppy growth, but also in offering training and knowledge regarding other crops to farmers who are specialized in the field of poppy growth, as many Afghan farmers are. Currently, Provincial Reconstruction Teams, or PRTs, are the coalition’s main tool in going out to connect with and rebuild the lives of ordinary Afghans. Each province has one team, and each team has only one representative in the field of agriculture. These representatives are further specialized, so certain provinces may have a veterinary specialist, while others will have an irrigation specialist for example . Although they do institute cross province programs (a veterinarian and irrigation specialist will switch provinces to run clinics for a week), this is insufficient to provide the proper expertise and support in the agricultural sector. A specialist for each field of agriculture must be present in every province to provide full time support to everyone involved in agricultural industries.

The sphere of security policy is just as important in creating stable markets. Primarily, security on transportation routes to markets must be improved. Farmers planting wheat must believe it will see the market. This will require more checkpoints along major routes, a better developed and trained police force, and continued military offenses against insurgent groups, as well as bandits. Boarder security is also in need of serious improvements, especially in regards to corruption. Most drug runners are so rich they can bribe any border guard, and if that fails many are so well connected that a cabinet minister is only a phone call away. By shifting resources allocated to combating the drug trade away from farmers and towards drug runners, two very important results can be expected. If executed properly, less heroin will see the world market, which should be enough in itself to encourage every Coalition country towards improved border security. Secondly, Afghan farmers will not be further driven into poverty by having their crops destroyed; rather, the money is coming directly out of the hands of those who really profit from this drug industry, catching much bigger fish so to say.

For all of these security measures to be effective, one more vital system of infrastructure must be upgraded; the legal system. Many criminals are set free or not charged due to a lack of courthouses, jails, and police forces. This is unacceptable. The current reconstruction of the Afghan legal system and infrastructure is being overseen by Italian forces . Continued improvement here is vital in creating a strong legal deterrent against crime, as the increased threat of punishment will serve to deter citizens from illegal activities. By actually imprisoning drug smugglers, this activity will surely be reduced. A strong legal system will also be important in enforcing a crackdown on the rampant corruption currently present in Afghanistan, which has hindered progress in nearly every field of reconstruction.

posted on Mar, 29 2008 @ 05:05 PM
These two spheres of security and agricultural policy and strongly intertwined. Steps forward in security will aid the agricultural industry, thus creating more jobs and less support for insurgents, which in turn will further serve to increase security, and so on. These perpetual cycles of improvement can exist if the proper policy is implemented. Every player in this game has strong motivation to do so. A stable Afghanistan first and foremost serves to improve the lives of its citizens. That should be enough for coalition forces, but it accomplishes far more. It will improve coalition countries reputations around the Muslim world (America in particular should strive for this). Money will shift from the hands of drug smugglers and dealers into the hands of Afghan farmers and businessmen. Insurgent groups will see less support, both fiscally and morally. In removing the source of 90% of the world’s heroin, prices of the drug will skyrocket, theoretically resulting in a steep decline in users across the globe. Lastly, it will benefit those suffering in Africa, whom the Senlis council have proposed as the most viable destination for Afghan morphine. If a preferential trade agreement between Afghanistan and Africa can be reached, morphine could get to Africa faster and cheaper than what little they currently receive. In fact, the average morphine consumption in the western world is 55mg/person/year. In Africa this number is a shocking 0.29 . With Africa being the region with the highest amount of AIDs victims in the world, should not these numbers be reversed? The current policy of forced eradication is failing, and only serving to aid the enemies of Afghanistan’s burgeoning democracy. By providing a legal means of income to the 2.3 million farmers involved we can accelerate the trip along the road to stability in Afghanistan. Most of the hurdles faced in the way to this stability are common to all agriculture in Afghanistan, and in fact many are hurdles to all aspects of reconstruction, especially the hurdle of corruption. It is however a long road, and only by continuously adapting to the constantly changing state of affairs can Afghan reconstruction ever hope to be a success.

Sidebar II
About The Senlis Council
“The Senlis Council is an international policy think tank with offices in Kabul, London, Paris, Brussels, Ottawa and Rio. The Council’s work encompasses foreign policy, security, development and counter-narcotics policies and aims to provide innovative analysis and proposals within these areas. The extensive programme currently underway in Afghanistan focuses on global policy development in conjunction with field research to investigate the relationships between counter-narcotics, military, and development policies and their consequences on Afghanistan’s reconstruction efforts.”

SOURCES - SOrry I could not get the subscript to appear in my copy paste from word, I will try to add all of the numbers into the essay if anyone is curious were certain data is from. I will list the sources regardless.

Parenti, Christian. "Afghan Poppies Bloom." Nation 280, no. 3 (January 24, 2005): pp 23. Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost (accessed November 3, 2007).
Chabot, Philippe, and Paul A. Dorosh. "Wheat markets, food aid and food security in Afghanistan." Food Policy 32, no. 3 (June 2007): pp 338. Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost (accessed November 3, 2007).
Ibid., pp 336
"A bumper crop." Economist 365, no. 8294 (October 12, 2002): 42-42. Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost (accessed November 3, 2007).
Parenti, Afghan Poppies Bloom, pp 23
Ibid., pp 22
Sanderson, Katharine. "Special report: Opiates for the masses." Nature 449, no. 7160 (September 20, 2007): pp 268. Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost (accessed November 3, 2007).
Parenti, Afghan Poppies Bloom, 22
The Senlis Council, “Helmand at War” available at; pp47, Internet; accessed November 3, 2007
Parenti, Afghan Poppies Bloom, pp 25
Senlis, “Helmand at War,” pp 46
Ibid., pp 45
Parenti, Afghan Poppies Bloom, pp 22
Senlis, “Helmand at War,” pp 43-48
Sanderson, Opiates for the masses, pp 268
Parenti, Afghan Poppies Bloom, pp 22
van Ham, Peter, and Jorrit Kamminga. "Poppies for Peace: Reforming Afghanistan's Opium Industry." Washington Quarterly 30, no. 1 (December 2006): pp 71. Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost (accessed November 3, 2007).
See Senlis Council reports., "Much gain, less pain." Economist 382, no. 8510 (January 06, 2007): 38-38., "A better way to deal with Afghanistan's poppy crop." USA Today (May 21, 2007). For examples of opinion shift in media towards licensed cultivations
Parenti, Afghan Poppies Bloom, pp 23
See Economist, “Much Gain, Less Pain.” And The Senlis Council, “Poppy for Medicine” available at Opium_licensing/documents/Poppy_for_medicine_in_Afghanistan
The Senlis Council, “Political History of Turkey’s Opium Licensing system…” available at Internet; accessed November 4, 2007
Sanderson, Opiates for the masses, pp 268
Chabot, et al, Wheat Markets… pp 340
Ibid., pp 350
Habenstreit, Linda. "USDA Makes Important Contributions To Help Rebuild Afghanistan's Agricultural Sector." FAS Worldwide 17, no. 2 (June 2005): 1-5. Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost (accessed November 3, 2007).
Parenti, Afghan Poppies Bloom, pp 22
van Ham, et al, Poppies for Peace… pp 71
Sanderson, Opiates for the masses, pp 269

posted on Mar, 29 2008 @ 09:58 PM
You should have posted this paper as an ATS Premium Article.

ATS would have paid you for it.


posted on Mar, 30 2008 @ 12:19 AM

Originally posted by Conspiracy Theorist
You should have posted this paper as an ATS Premium Article.

ATS would have paid you for it.


Any further information through a post or U2U would be greatly appreciated. I can't seem to turn up any info regarding ATS premium.

posted on Mar, 30 2008 @ 07:15 AM
reply to post by WuTang

Check this Link.

The launch of ATS Premium

I dont know if its too late now or not, seeing as how its already posted, but you can remember that the next time.


posted on Mar, 30 2008 @ 07:30 AM
A truly outstanding post, WuTang

What a shame WATS isn't around any more...

You have quite obviously carefully researched your subject choice, which shows in what you have written...

An awesome essay on a particularly worrying aspect of the war on terror...

Its seems NATO underestimates the resources required to reduce poppy cultivation....Tens of millions of dollars will not do, it will require AT LEAST hundreds of millions of dollars...

Again, I question the reasons why this is not happening on a serious basis...Who exactly is benefiting from all this ? The farmers ? Sure, a little...Those export the stuff to the west ? Definitely....

Governments involved in Afghanistan, who really don't give a rats where the smack ends up ? Highly likely if you ask me...

Thanks again for a great post


posted on Mar, 30 2008 @ 08:14 AM
thats an amazing piece of work wutang, very educational and interesting. as i was reading i said to myself a few times "yeah, but...." only to find an explanation further on in the piece. almost every aspect is covered. thanks.

posted on Mar, 30 2008 @ 12:46 PM
reply to post by Rilence

According to UNESCO the majority of the cash is ending up into the hands of drug smugglers and drug dealers in Europe. Local warlords and the remaining Taliban see large incomes as well.

I wrote this paper in December so I will try to do some follow up as to whether or not aerial eradication has been implemented (as my essay claims it will begin in FEB/08). I would expect such an action to result in increased violence and anti democratic sentiment in Afghanistan.

As for western governments not caring, they really do. Although I did not have much room to go into detail on this, the social cost of opiate addiction is very profound in first world countries, especially in Europe (where most Afghani opiates end up). The problem is that the accepted way of eradicating plant based drugs is to eradicate the crops, which in reality lowers supply and increases demand. For this policy to work, over 90% of poppy fields would need to be eradicated yearly for farmers to rationally switch crops.

The other people really hurt by this (which I barely touched upon) are living in the SENLIS councils proposed destination for all this morphine: Africa. Africa has arguably more need for morphine than anywhere on the planet, yet the amount they receive is less than 15% of what other developed countries go through. A strong morphine industry in Afghanistan and a preferential trade agreement with several African states would serve to greatly improve the standards of living and access to health care for Africans who need it.

[edit on 30-3-2008 by WuTang]

posted on Mar, 30 2008 @ 03:40 PM
Nice work, lots of stuff there I didn't know before. I agree that decrim is the way to go, for all illicit substances. That would cut the legs right out from under the organized crime element, that grows rich and powerful from it being illegal.

[edit on 30-3-2008 by TheComte]

posted on Mar, 30 2008 @ 05:26 PM
You guys,

You're going to make Springer have a frikkin' heart attack. What, hemps done .. now its poppy time?

Anyway, on the topic, I think you guys are missing a big piece of the puzzle. The East India Trading Company, a British Company, addicted an entire NATION to poppy derivatives .. that is.. China, and despite the Emperor's decree of death to anyone with this in their possession, it was still a problem for quite some time. A freaking WAR was fought between two nations over this .. and the Chinese sent the British dope pushers back into the Sea from whence they came.

Fast forward a few hundred years, in todays Afghanistan. When Taliban were the governing body, poppy cultivation was very low, and very illegal or looked down upon; in fact.. the Taliban would routinely jail and execute smugglers and producers of these substances derived from the poppy in their clandestine labs, for shipment to Europe, Russia and the Mediterranean. Now that we, the Americans, with the aid of NATO, the British and the Canadians .. and the Dutch .. and the Aussies too .. heck .. have taken control of Afghanistan, whats happening? The crops are BOOMING! Why?

Is it as simple as .. "The Taliban is gone so we arent afraid to grow poppies now" ? I do not think so. I think theres a .. gulp .. conspiracy going on! The crimelords in these Western governments want Afghanistan to be the production ground for 80 to 90% of the WORLD'S illicit, illegal diacetylmorphine, which is fancy for .. you figure it out. (See, no tripping of the nanny bots here *wink*)

And why would they want that, pray tell? Because, it feeds right into the subduing and eventual destruction of the majority of the world's population, which many of us know is indeed an agenda held by certain people and groups of immense sway and power on the world scene, such as politics etc. What better way than to imprison millions with this crap, so that they become hopelessly physically addicted and cannot quit on their own? And to spread deadly diseases quicker? Bingo. And what else is that, more go to jail? Bingo. And what else did you say, more overdose and die? Jackpot!

posted on Apr, 3 2008 @ 04:35 PM
reply to post by runetang

Sorry to take a while to respond, have been busy.

Fast forward a few hundred years, in todays Afghanistan. When Taliban were the governing body, poppy cultivation was very low, and very illegal or looked down upon; in fact.. the Taliban would routinely jail and execute smugglers and producers of these substances derived from the poppy in their clandestine labs, for shipment to Europe, Russia and the Mediterranean. Now that we, the Americans, with the aid of NATO, the British and the Canadians .. and the Dutch .. and the Aussies too .. heck .. have taken control of Afghanistan, whats happening? The crops are BOOMING! Why?

The Taliban crackdown was for one year, and it was because of immense pressure from the west. The only reason this ban has worked better than almost any other criminalization law in the world (The UN drug program claims this was the most effective drug crackdown in history) was the punishment: death.

It is also widely suspected that the Taliban went along with this demand because of the non perishable nature of the opiate resin. The Taliban confiscated all of the product, waited until demand made the prices skyrocket, and then sold all of their stockpiled material. Good way to make a quick billion dollars or so.

Is it as simple as .. "The Taliban is gone so we arent afraid to grow poppies now" ? I do not think so. I think theres a .. gulp .. conspiracy going on! The crimelords in these Western governments want Afghanistan to be the production ground for 80 to 90% of the WORLD'S illicit, illegal diacetylmorphine, which is fancy for .. you figure it out.

I think a big part of it is the Taliban is gone. The NATO forces do not have a death penalty for growing poppy. In fact, the only repercussion what so ever is the threat of forced eradication. If you remember my lottery comparison:

The coalition has enough resources to forcibly eradicate 10% of the total crop.

The poppies main competitor, wheat (in the few places that actually have the required irrigation infrastructure to grow it), is worth 10% of what poppy is worth.

Therefor, until the threat of forced eradication is greater than 90%, or the profitability of wheat increases ten fold, or the two meet somewhere in the middle, we will continue to see a strong economic advantage for the poppy. I am a firm believer in economics, and that every person in the world makes 95% of their decision based on economics (even if they don't know it). So until the rational choice is an alternative, the poppy industry will flourish.

The lottery would be one in which you have a 90% chance of winning, and you get paid ten times what you bet. You would have to be a fool not play.

What better way than to imprison millions with this crap, so that they become hopelessly physically addicted and cannot quit on their own? And to spread deadly diseases quicker? Bingo. And what else is that, more go to jail? Bingo. And what else did you say, more overdose and die? Jackpot!

This is a conspiracy I have been reading into, I would suggest you read some Catherine Austin Fitts for further info on it. Although this may be a possibility, I still believe the NATO forces genuinely want to reduce this flow of opiates. The only problem is that it directly hurts Afghan development.

Regardless of "their" motives, I still feel I have proposed a solution that would end not only the flow of opiates, but also greatly increase Afghan stability.

This includes, but is not limited to:
-Improved agriculture and crop switch programs.
-Better access to markets (perishability issue)
-Improved security.
-Crackdown on corruption regarding smuggling
-Legalization of the poppy industry (as witnessed in Turkey). The resulting morphine could be sold at world market prices, or, as the SENLIS council proposes, through a preferential trade agreement to AIDS ravaged African nations, essentially killing two birds with one stone (well maybe just wounding the second).

Either way, forced eradication must stop, as all it does is make the poppy incredibly lucrative.

posted on Apr, 3 2008 @ 06:38 PM
I also wanted to expand on another ironic issue in this whole debacle: Food Aid.

Since the fall of the Taliban, huge amounts of international aid have arrived in Afghanistan. One such staple is flour. Giving the poor and disenfranchised large quantities of flour at first thought seems highly logical, but in fact it is quite the opposite.

In the first year of reconstruction alone, the large amounts of free flour served to lower the market price of flour by 15%. If Afghanistan is looking for long term stability and growth in the wheat market, these shipments must be curtailed.

Kind or ironic, and maybe a conspiracy in itself, that feeding Afghans actually results in more heroin in Europe. A tough decision to make, as a short term starvation of some Afghans will result in a long term starvation for the European heroine market.

Give a man a fish, and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he will eat for a lifetime.

Give a man wheat, and he will make heroin.

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