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JALALABAD, Afghanistan (February 15, 2001 8:19 p.m. EST
U.N. drug control officers said the Taliban religious militia has nearly wiped out opium production in Afghanistan -- once the world's largest producer -- since banning poppy cultivation last summer.
A 12-member team from the U.N. Drug Control Program spent two weeks searching most of the nation's largest opium-producing areas and found so few poppies that they do not expect any opium to come out of Afghanistan this year.
"We are not just guessing. We have seen the proof in the fields," said Bernard Frahi, regional director for the U.N. program in Afghanistan and Pakistan. He laid out photographs of vast tracts of land cultivated with wheat alongside pictures of the same fields taken a year earlier -- a sea of blood-red poppies.
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
The Last Crusade
Hey, guys, don’t pick the poppies.
That’s the order from the Obama Administration to the 4,000 Marines presently engaged in Operation Khanjar or “Strike of the Sword,” an invasion of the Taliban infested Helmand Province in southern Afghanistan.
The Marines of Bravo’s Company 1st Platoon sleep beside groves of poppies Troops of the 2nd Platoon walk through the fields on strict orders not to swat the heavy opium bulbs. The Afghan farmers and laborers, who are engaged in scraping the resin from the bulbs, smile and wave at the passing soldiers.
The Helmand province is the world’s largest cultivator of opium poppies - the crop used to make heroin.
Richard Holbrooke, the administration's coordinator of Afghanistan policy, said this month that eradicating the opium poppy fields is "wasteful and ineffective" and has been "pushing farmers into the Taliban's hands" because it destroys farmers' livelihoods and leaves them with few alternatives.
Barnett Rubin, a New York University professor and Holbrooke adviser, told Congress last year that eradication usually fuels the Taliban-led insurgency.
However, the white paper on Afghanistan released Friday by the White House says the new strategy will spend more on "crop substitution and alternative livelihood programs" while continuing the practice of "targeting those who grow the poppy."
Holbrooke said after the release of the Afghanistan strategy that "you can't eliminate the whole eradication program. But you've got to put more emphasis on agricultural job creation."
President Bush proposed chemical spraying to kill poppy fields, but the Afghan government and European countries resisted that step as too harsh.
It would also seem to me that the persons protecting the crops just may have more of an interest in these crops then they may be leading us to believe .
Are we not there to help the Afghans develop there nation , ie. schools , stability , oil lines and the world bank ?