Guest Post: The Strategic Ramifications Of A US-Led Withdrawal from Afghanistan

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Yossef Bodansky of

The Strategic Ramifications of a US-Led Withdrawal from Afghanistan

The United States and the NATO allies are preparing to disengage and soon withdraw from Afghanistan and even the most vocal advocates of the "long-term commitment" do not anticipate more than five years of active US and NATO involvement.  All the local key players — in Kabul, Islamabad, and countless tribal and localized foci of power — are cognizant and are already maneuvering and posturing to deal with the new reality.

Irrespective of the political solution and/or compromise which will emerge in Kabul, the US is leaving behind a huge powder keg of global and regional significance with a short fuse burning profusely: namely, the impact of Afghanistan’s growing, expanding and thriving heroin economy.

The issue at hand is not just the significant impact which the easily available and relatively cheap heroin has on the addiction rates in Russia, Europe, Central Asia, Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, and the consequent public health, social stability and mortality-rate issues.

In global terms, the key threat is the impact that the vast sums of drug money has on the long-term regional stability of vast tracks of Eurasia: namely, the funding of a myriad of “causes” ranging from jihadist terrorism and subversion to violent and destabilizing secessionism and separatism. 

Russia is most concerned with these developments because most of them occur on Russia’s own doorstep and soft underbelly.  Moreover, Russia has always been cognizant of the potential dangers emanating from chaos at the Heart of Asia and the Greater Black Sea Basin. As a result, the Kremlin embarked on a major initiative to secure long-term international commitment to resolving Afghanistan’s endemic narcotics problem, which means consolidating a stable form of governance and thus eliminating the consequences of the region-wide narco-funded terrorism and destabilization.

On June 9-10, 2010, the Kremlin convened in Moscow an international forum entitled Afghan Drug Production: A Challenge to the International Community as the launch of the international drive to resolve Afghanistan’s long-term challenges where Russian Pres. Dmitry Medvedev delivered the opening speech.

“We consider drug addiction the most serious threat to the development of our country and the health of our people,” he said. Medvedev urged the international community to curtail the global spread of drug crimes which fuel terrorism. This would be possible, Medvedev argued, if the international community did not politicize the fight against drugs, narco-criminality, and narco-terrorism.

“The fight against the drug threat should be removed from any kind of politicization,” Medvedev stressed. He warned that any “political games” on such crucial issues are inadmissible for they “undermine our joint international efforts and weaken our anti-drugs coalition.”

Viktor Ivanov, the Director of Russia’s Federal Service for the Control of Narcotics, articulated the Kremlin’s case why the Afghan drug production is an international rather than a local or regional threat. “The time has come to qualify the status of Afghan drug production as a threat to world peace and security,” Ivanov said.

“This is a key postulate of the action plan that was proposed by Russia to the international community and voiced at NATO headquarters, the European Parliament and Beijing.” The Kremlin considers global drug trafficking to be far more destructive than terrorism alone because drug money is the primary facilitator of numerous threats including terrorism.

The long-term resolution of the crisis in Afghanistan is a precondition, Ivanov explained, because “it was drug production that had given rise to rife political and economic instability in Afghanistan…It is Afghan drug traffic that fuels terrorists in the North Caucasus; we need to work together to fight it.” Ivanov stressed the Kremlin’s conviction that Afghan drug trafficking “is a global problem” because it “feeds transnational crime and terrorism all over the world” and thus merits international solution.

Heroin production in Afghanistan has vastly expanded since the US-led forces entered in the Autumn of 2001.  Initially, poppy cultivation centered in the southern and, to a lesser extent, north-eastern provinces - all focus of US and NATO military activities.  Presently, poppy cultivation and drug-related activities have spread throughout most of Afghanistan. For example, a large number of heroin-processing labs — presently estimated at about 200 — were built as well.

However, ISAF [the International Security Assistance Force, in Afghanistan] prefers to largely ignore the growing narcotics problems for fear of alienating the farmer population that might resent losing its livelihood.  However, the US main concern has always been alienating the Kabul-centric political élite, the very same élite which is, at the very core of, and key to, the US-led effort to establish a centralized government in Kabul and a functioning state in Afghanistan. With drug money fueling the political machine which is crucial to the US nation-building efforts, the US has no interest in undermining Afghanistan’s narco-economy.

In the Moscow forum, US senior officials acknowledged the US reluctance to commit to the eradication of Afghanistan’s poppy cultivation and narco-economy.  Patrick Ward, the Acting Deputy Director for Supply Reduction at the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, warned that intense anti-narcotics operations “will further undermine the rule of law and reinforce the nexus between drugs and terrorism”. He stated that US and ISAF forces must not find themselves in a position where they were perceived as the instrument of eradicating “the only source of income of people who live in the second poorest country of the world”.

The US Ambassador to Russia, John Beyrle, reiterated that the US would not take Russia’s advice about eradicating Afghanistan’s opium harvests anytime soon for fear of engendering popular alienation. UNODC Director Antonio Maria Costa agreed that “there is no rôle for NATO forces in eradication at the farm level” because this will push the population into the arms of the Taliban. However, he urged the US and NATO to embark on a comprehensive program to solve Afghanistan’s drugs menace at the national-political level; alluding to the centrality of narco-funds in Afghanistan’s politics and power élite. 

But the problem of Afghanistan’s drugs cannot be ignored by the West because the primary strategic long-term impact of Afghanistan’s drugs is the use of the drug money along the distribution routes from Afghanistan-Pakistan through the energy-rich Central Asia to the western Balkans, mainly Kosovo.

The intimate relationships and close cooperation between the drug trade, international terrorism and separatism are not new phenomena.

In the early-1990s, the Sunni jihadist leadership assumed leadership over a thriving joint action. Specific fatwas from Islamist luminaries authorize these highly irregular, seemingly un-Islamic activities because they also contribute to the destruction of Western society and civilization. The Sunni Islamist fatwas are based on and derived from earlier rulings of the higher Shiite courts issued in connection with operations of HizbAllah and Iranian intelligence. The logic of these activities was elucidated in the mid-1980s in the HizbAllah’s original fatwa on the distribution of drugs: “We are making these drugs for Satan: America and the Jews. If we cannot kill them with guns so we will kill them with drugs.” 

The main reason, however, for the Sunni jihadist embracing of the drug-trade was practicality. In the early-1990s, the fledgling jihadist leadership concluded that an intricate system of funding activities in the West was needed. By then, Gulbaddin Hekmatyar was getting ready to ship drugs from Afghanistan to the West and was willing to divert profits from this drug trade to support the fledgling terrorist networks in return for the arrangement of a viable system of money laundering.

An up-and-coming young activist — Osama bin Laden — used his knowledge of the Western financial system and his family’s connections with the European banking system in order to organize the new financial system for jihad. At that time, the net worth of the Islamist network was estimated at $600-million in the West alone.

Another founding father of the narco-jihadist alliance was Shamil Basayev. Between April and June 1994, Basayev led a high-level Chechen delegation on a visit to an ISI-sponsored terrorist training infrastructure in both Pakistan and Afghanistan in order to arrange for advanced training and expert help, funding for the Chechen Jihad, and acquisition of weapons.

In Afghanistan, the Chechens visited the ISI’s training facilities in the Khowst area, then run under the banner of Gulbaddin Hekmatyar’s Hizb-i-Islami. In Pakistan, the Chechens had a series of high level meetings with the Pakistani leaders who for a period became the patrons of the Chechen Jihad, arranging for the establishment of a comprehensive training and arming program for the Chechens in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

As a primary source of funds for their jihad, the Chechens were offered a major rôle in the expanding push of heroin from Afghanistan-Pakistan into Europe. The Chechen jihad would be handsomely rewarded for facilitating forward distribution facilities at the gates of Europe. Toward this end, Basayev met with individuals identified as “former ISI senior officials”, who provided contacts for the drugs and weapons smuggling operations.

Moreover, in early 1994, senior Pakistani officials were reported to have intervened with the Taliban leadership to ensure the uninterrupted flow of heroin from the Helmand valley via Qandahar and Jalalabad. Under the new arrangements, the heroin would now be shipped northwards to an airfield near Chitral, Pakistan, from where the drugs, as well as a growing number of Chechens and Arab-Afghan volunteers, were flown to Chechnya. As the volume of heroin increased, truck convoys were dispatched across Central Asia.

By the late-1990s, as the sums of money available from the drug trade increased, bin Laden and the “Russian Mafiya” (in both Russia and several former-Soviet states) established a complex sophisticated money-laundering operation described by an insider as “an extended and octopus-like network that uses political names in Asia and Africa in return for commissions.” The funds were used to finance the Taliban movement and a host of jihadist terrorist operations worldwide. Bin Laden made a commission on these transactions and used this resource to fund his favorite jihadist networks and spectacular terrorism.

By now, the annual income of the Taliban from the drug trade was estimated at $8-billion.  Bin Laden was administering and managing these funds — laundering them through his Mafiya connection — in return for a commission of between 10 and 15 percent, which provided an annual income of about a billion dollars for the jihad.

All of this was rattled around the turn of the century. First, the Taliban leadership offered to stop the poppy growing as part of its desperate effort to gain legitimacy and support from the West. Although the Taliban eradicated virtually all poppy cultivation in southern Afghanistan, they permitted the jihadists to continue selling heroin from cached stockpiles.

By the time US forces entered Afghanistan in the Autumn of 2001, there was virtually no poppy cultivation. However, the US and NATO demonstrated benign neglect of the country-wide poverty and chaos. Meanwhile, Islamist leaders realized that the best way to ensure grassroots presence and even support would be through the provision of easy cash to the impoverished population.

The jihadist leadership used its supporter networks in the Persian Gulf States in order to clandestinely purchase virtually all the arable land in southern Afghanistan. Islamist emissaries now offered the population economic security in the form of loans and seeds for poppy cultivation on behalf of the mysterious landlords, and secure payment from buyers who would pick-up the harvest directly from the farmers, thus alleviating the dangers of traveling to the market. As well, tribal and local leaders were handsomely rewarded for their cooperation and endorsement of these arrangements.

By the time Washington committed to the establishment of a centralized government in Kabul, the entire power-political system was dependent on narco-funding for its existence and system of patronage. The US realized that it would be impossible to sustain the semblance of pro-Western system of governance in Kabul and the countryside without looking the other way on the rapidly growing and increasingly addictive narco-funding of Afghanistan’s upper-most leadership.

Indeed, the poppy cultivation area in Afghanistan rose from 8,000 hectares in 2001 to 74,000 in 2002, peaking at 193,000 in 2007 but going down to 123,000 hectares in 2009. Although the loss is mainly the result of blight attacking the crops rather than eradication by police, the Taliban are effectively capitalizing on the plight of the affected farmers by claiming the farmers were victims of ISAF poisonous spraying and offering financial help in return for the farmers’ support of the Taliban. 

Presently, some 80 percent of the total amount of Afghanistan’s opium is grown in Kandahar, Helmand, and Uruzgan provinces, where the presence and activities of US and ISAF forces is most intense. There are strong indications that farmers throughout Afghanistan are already preparing for a record-breaking opium poppy planting season beginning in mid-September 2010 in hopes of a bumper crop next year.

Slightly more than half the Afghan heroin is smuggled via the northern route: Central Asia, Russia and the GBSB (Greater Black Sea Basin). Secondary is the southern route which carries slightly over a third of the heroin via Iran, Turkey and the Middle East to the GBSB.

Presently, the overall annual income from the Afghan heroin traveling along the northern route alone is more than $17-billion, out of which, the jihadist movement and its localized (separatist/secessionist) allies are making about $15-billion. There is no reliable estimate of the total income of the southern route, but the best guesstimates put it at more than $10-billion, most of which also goes to funding jihadist and secessionist causes (including the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban).

The annual cost of doing business in Afghanistan is below $100-million. The organized-crime networks running the labs and patronage system have a gross income of a couple of billion dollars, a small portion of which is spent on the Kabul power structure. This disparity raises the question of the cost-effectiveness of tolerating the narco-funded leadership in Kabul.

The narco-profits are thus the financial engine of key elements of the current government in Kabul and its regional cronies, as aptly demonstrated in the most recent Aftghan presidential elections. They will not permit their financial life-line to simply go away in the name of democracy or good governance.  And having committed to Pres. Hamid Karzai and his patronage system as the key to the future of a modern state in Afghanistan, the US Barack Obama Administration cannot afford to see the administration in Kabul collapsing, no matter who they are or what they do.

Furthermore, the Afghan narcotics system is the key to the funding and sustenance of numerous regional and global dynamics which will not give up easily. The drug smuggling networks across Central Asia and into Russia and Europe are an integral part of a comprehensive narco-terrorist dynamics/system.  Drug-trade funds jihadist terrorism and subversion from Tajikistan to Chechnya to Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Moreover, the various separatist and secessionist movements — that is, minorities feeling pressure of regional dynamics while having sense of alienation and victimization/victimhood — are easy prey to the lure of easily available large sums of money from the drugs and smuggling trade. 

Most dangerous are the minuscule states and state-like entities. Since these states and entities are too small and under-developed to be able to sustain themselves economically and socially in a proper and legal way, their local leaderships tend to look the other way as narco-funded organized crime establishes footholds in their midst. The drug-trade and/or money laundering bring money in and thus financially sustain the mini-enclaves and the chimera of self-determination attained.

Consequently, the various separatist and secessionist “causes” from Central Asia to the Caucasus (not just Chechnya and the rest of the North Caucasus) and to the Balkans have become safe-havens for the drug-trade.  These include, for example, the financial and money-laundering centers in Stepanakert and Tiraspol, as well as Kosovo being the primary forward distribution point of Afghan-origin drugs into Western Europe.

And once they gained control over lucrative choke-points, these localized leaders, their cronies and their “causes”, will not give up without fierce fight irrespective of their declared ideologies. The on-going fierce struggle for the control over the Fergana Valley by an alliance of jihadists and drug smugglers is indicative of this trend.

The latest round of fighting which started in early June 2010 already resulted in the death of more than 2,000 civilians and the dislocation of a few hundreds of thousands, mainly Uzbeks. The struggle for the Fergana Valley started in March 2005 when Kurmanbek Bakiyev, at the head of a coalition sponsored by organized crime, exploited the US-sponsored “Tulip Revolution” in order to seize power in Bishkek so that the southern coalition could ensure state patronage to their undertaking.

The combination of subversion of Kyrgyzstan’s internal power dynamics and horrendous corruption could not be sustained for long. Indeed, it took five years for a coalition of traditional and radical power holders to overthrow Bakiyev. However, soon after Bakiyev was forced out of Bishkek in mid-April 2010, he and his allies started exacerbating the south in order to ensure their control over the Fergana Valley and the lucrative local drug-trade routes.

Hence, the ensuing riots and Kyrgyz-Uzbek fighting were neither spontaneous nor unanticipated.

The toppling of the Bakiyev administration — which was based on the support of the southern clans and their allies and partners among the organized crime and jihadist circles — heralded a struggle for power and control over the lucrative drug-smuggling routes via the Fergana Valley.

Indeed, local jihadists rallied to the cause starting late April as a coalition of jihadists and pro-Bakiyev groups began distributing pamphlets and CDs throughout southern Kyrgyzstan urging the establishment of a separate South Kyrgyzstan Democratic Republic under the ousted Bakiyev.

The incitement stressed the discrimination and disenfranchisement of the Kyrgyz southern clans by an alleged coalition of the Kyrgyz northern clans and the local Uzbek population.  It did not take long for hatred and violence to erupt, destroying Bishkek’s control over the area. The jihadists and drug runners already benefit from the de facto dismemberment of Kyrgyzstan for the separate entity in the south encompassing the Fergana Valley already significantly expedite their operations. 

A similar trend is emerging in the Armenian enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh within Azerbaijan.  For as long as the economic situation was tenuous and there was near complete dependence on the largess of the West delivered via Yerevan (the capital of Armenia), Stepanakert (the capital of the Nagorno-Karabakh region) was ready for a political compromise which was going even beyond the hard-line position of Yerevan in the Minsk Group’s negotiations with Baku.

However, as the economic situation in Nagorno-Karabakh began improving mainly due to the trickle-down effect of transmitted and laundered narco-funds, the position of the Stepanakert authorities regarding the future of the enclave has hardened. 

In mid-June 2010, Stepanakert objected to a renewed mediation effort by the Kremlin. Stepanakert is apprehensive that a negotiated solution could be reached as Pres. Medvedev convinced Azerbaijan Pres. Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Pres. Serzh Sarkisian to meet in Saint Petersburg for the first time in more than four months and without the pressure of the Minsk Group’s mediators. Consequently, the Kremlin reported that the two presidents narrowed their differences on some of the lingering thorny issues.

In response, the Stepanakert Armenian leadership announced that the meeting between Aliyev and Sarkisian “will not help find a resolution” for the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict.  Moreover, Stepanakert renewed its demand for a full state status in a new tripartite format — of Armenia, Nagorno-Karabakh, and Azerbaijan — along with the Minsk Group mediators (Russia, France and the United States). 

Concurrently, Stepanakert’s renewed political push is given a sense of urgency by exacerbating the security situation along the ceasefire line of contact.  Starting mid-June 2010, there has been a growing tension and escalation of fighting along the line of contact.  Karabakhi-Armenian troops intensified provocations and exchanges of fire with the Azerbaijani military facing them.

The first major incident took place on June 16, 2010 when Karabakhi-Armenian troops ambushed an Azerbaijani patrol and an Azerbaijani soldier was killed in the fighting.  This and a few smaller incidents led to growing tension and intensified military activities along the entire cease-fire line.

The number of clashes, ambushes, cross-border raids and brief exchanges of fire grew. On the night of June 18/19, 2010, Azerbaijani military noted preparations by Karabakhi-Armenian forces in north-eastern Nagorno-Karabakh where an Azerbaijani raiding party attacked the Karabakhi-Armenian positions, killing four soldiers and wounding four others before returning into Azerbaijani-controlled territory.  Baku confirmed that one Azerbaijani soldier was killed and his body remained in the Karabakhi-Armenian position. Sporadic clashes and exchanges of fire continued.

Southern Kyrgyzstan and Nagorno-Karabakh are but the two most recent examples of the security manifestations of fringe and extremist policies made possible by narco-funding.

There are countless cases of unwarranted separatist and secessionist causes where the legitimate quest of minorities for self-determination could have long been resolved in a form of distinct region or autonomy within the borders of recognized states.  However, the mere existence of virtually unlimited narco-funds — a byproduct of the Afghanistan-origin drug trade — enables the separatist and secessionist leaderships to sustain their respective struggles and extreme and unrealistic demands no matter how impractical they might be.

And when the international community refuses to go along with these quests, there emerges the penchant for armed struggle and terrorism if only because weapons and narco-funds are aplenty. 

Thus, just starving the poppy cultivation and heroin processing labs in Afghanistan will create a security backlash throughout the Heart of Asia and the Greater Black Sea Basin.  Hence, it is imperative to have a systemic approach to resolving not only the Afghan narco-challenges but also the entire regional security challenges aggravated and exacerbated by the mere availability of narco-funds and narco-terrorist groups.

Lastly, there is the issue of state-sponsorship of both terrorism and narco-criminality. These cannot be ignored if tangible long-term eradication of drug problem is sought.  At the same time, there is no substitute to the eradication of poppy cultivation and heroin processing labs in Afghanistan. However, the mere physical destruction of crops or labs is only the beginning of a comprehensive process.

Presently the Afghan narco-system has enough built-in redundancy and has enough money to replace interim losses without a tangible systemic loss. One-time or even periodic destruction of assets is therefore an exercise in futility.  Therefore, for any attempt to destroy Afghanistan’s narco-system to have prospects of success, the foreign forces involved must stay for a protracted period in order to ensure the long-term impact on the affected society.

Moreover, a long-term military presence is first and foremost a question of ensuring the legitimacy of the central and local authorities, so that the people cooperate with them.  As well, there is no point in attempting long-term presence by force if the quality and legitimacy of the civilian governance cannot be ascertained.

Simply put: reversing the criminalization of segments of society is an integral part of resolving the core-problems of that society.  In the case of Afghanistan this means the legitimacy of the Kabul Government, establishing viable regionally-based governance, and resolving the endemic tribes-vs-local authorities’ disputes. 

Furthermore, the mere eradication of crops and destruction of labs will only create vacuum and domino effect which breed instability, additional terrorism, etc. Therefore, it is imperative to approach the Afghan drugs challenge in the context of a comprehensive political and security solution on a regional level. The Afghan narco-system is an integral part of a larger problem; and so is the solution. Similarly, no political and security solution is possible throughout the Heart of Asia and the Greater Black Sea Basin for as long as the narco-economy keeps funding the opposition and encouraging violence.

The entire narco-terrorist system constitutes a viable threat to the vital interests of Russia. It is a huge time-bomb at Russia’s soft underbelly, therefore, the Kremlin considers the flow of drugs from Afghanistan to be an issue of vital importance - from the undermining of Russian society to destabilizing regional security.

Although Afghanistan is the primary source of illegal drugs in Europe, the Europeans are reluctant to confront the issue of recreational drug use effectively and this attitude diminishes Europe’s willingness to address the real challenges.

The narco-terrorism of Eurasia has a minuscule impact on the US and is thus not a priority for Washington, particularly at a time the Obama Administration is yearning to disengage from Afghanistan virtually at all cost.  Hence, it is up to Russia — whose vital interests are at stake — to lead the struggle against the rising tide of narco-terrorism at the Heart of Asia and the Greater Black Sea Basin. 

Virtually all experts in the Moscow forum agreed that the current situation in Afghanistan-Pakistan-Central Asia was not only untenable, but was rapidly deteriorating.  The US/ISAF efforts are considered better than nothing, but the near-unanimous expert opinion is that the security effort barely scratches the surface while the most endemic problems are deep-rooted.

The Kremlin wants NATO to stay in Afghanistan but the US is leading NATO into abandoning Afghanistan.  Therefore, the Kremlin plans on convincing the Europeans — specific capitals and the EU — that the collapse of Afghanistan and the rise of drugs and narco-terrorism are detrimental to Europe’s vital interests. The Kremlin hopes to get the EU/Europe to pressure the US to sustain NATO’s efforts in Afghanistan because Russia is eager for ISAF to remain as a viable force for the duration.

Overall, the highest authorities in the Kremlin — led by Medvedev who delivered a very strong opening statement at the international Afghan Drug Production: a Challenge to the International Community forum — are committed to the Afghan drug-eradication policy in its comprehensive scope/connotation. The Kremlin is petrified by the spread of drugs and narco-funded terrorism, insurgency, violence and instability from Afghanistan via Central Asia into the heart of Russia.

The Kremlin is embarking on an international campaign — first focusing on the EU and NATO — to formulate a joint long-term program to eradicate the Afghan narco-system and byproducts. This is a comprehensive plan which recognizes the imperative to first resolve Afghanistan’s security and governance problems, but also address the issue of drug-funded separatism, secessionism, and narco-terrorism at the Heart of Asia and the Greater Black Sea Basin as a major policy issue.

What remains to be seen, though, is the extent of cooperation Russia was likely to get from Europe and particularly the United States.


By. Yossef Bodansky for who offer detailed analysis on Oil, alternative Energy, Commodities, Finance and Geopolitics. They also provide free Geopolitical intelligence to help investors gain a greater understanding of world events and the impact they have on certain regions and sectors. Visit:

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bugs_'s picture

Not happening.  Non-conventional presence for a long long time.

hound dog vigilante's picture

Wrong. Will happen. Is happening.

The reason why (US is insolvent) is more frightening than any future chaos scenarios sprouting from tribal Afghanistan.


Warmongering neo-cons are in denial.  The military gravytrain has permanently derailed. The US is morally and fiscally bankrupt.

Cursive's picture

Leave Afghanistan?  No way!  Didn't you read that declassified DOD study that there are $1T of natural resource reserves in Afghanistan?  (rolls eyes)

jeff montanye's picture

not to mention eternal war is the only stimulus package guaranteed republican approval. drug addiction is a health problem, a personal will power problem, an economic development problem, probably others.  it is not a law enforcement problem, a military problem, a black arts secret political subversion, etc. problem.  

perhaps the surest sign of the disingenuousness of the global war on terrorism is the unwillingness of the u.s. to consider repeal of its absurd drug prohibitions which clearly offer its supposed existential enemy enormous resources and which prohibition alienates the peasantry (yet while importing alcohol of all things into an observant muslim country).

StychoKiller's picture

I view Afghanistan and virtually ALL other problems/crises mentioned on this site as Intelligence test(s) for Humanity and TPTB -- we are in EPIC FAILURE territory folks!

Tenma13's picture

think it the same one they rolled out in the 80s :P

RockyRacoon's picture

Thanks for the article.  Can someone tell me why we should not just pack up and come home from Afghanistan?  When a situation is untenable what solutions are there?  None, by definition.  Save what money and lives we have left.  Just my ignorant view.  There seem to be a lot of Congress-folks who have opinions, yet didn't have the guts to declare an honest war. 

SteveNYC's picture

The American way is to keep running toward that "cliff" you describe. Close your eyes, run faster, never admit you were wrong......never......

RockyRacoon's picture

Funding should be cut off.  Since Congress did not declare a real war, it should not have the ability to approve funds for this military invasion.   We should also remember that an embargo is a classic act of war -- just in time for the Iranian "action".

-Michelle-'s picture

If they were really afraid of the drug problem, they'd have already come up with some type of genetically-modified blight that would wipe out the poppies.  I can't believe that this is an impossible task.

dark pools of soros's picture

why does ZH fail to use simple img src method???

RockyRacoon's picture

Only contributors can post images.  All others post links.

dark pools of soros's picture

bah humbug but thanks you much for pointing it out

RockyRacoon's picture

Yeah, Leo can post videos of Greek debauchery, and RobotTrader can post pictures of nekkid wimmin.  We're stuck with blue characters only.

knukles's picture

Jeeeezuzzzz Kerrist!

Wipe out the poppies?  Who?  The US military is Protecting the Poppies for the Farmers so that the Farmers can earn a Reasonable Income, selling their own production as opposed to having it expropriated by the Taliban. 

A splendid example of the Law of Unintended Consequences in implementing a Politically Correct policy of Winning Hearts and Minds whilst engaged in Armed Conflict.   

The US's current formal policy is the protection of poppy cultivation.  This is well documented and in the public domain. 

i-dog's picture

You are half right ... the US military IS protecting the poppies (and shipping the heroin), but not for the farmers (though they do get a couple of $mil a year at farm gate prices).

No, they are protecting them for TPTB, who take their cut from the $400 BILLION a year street price of the heroin in Europe and America.

The revenue from their military-protected heroin trade is clear profit, because the US taxpayer pays the costs of protection.

The Taliban ripped up the poppies back in 2000, so the 2001 crop was down by 96%. Then 9-11 "happened" and they had troops in there within 4 weeks to get the poppy growing industry back up and running in no time. The 2002 crop was almost back to 2000 levels, then production just kept growing to new record levels each year with all the US and other troops on the ground.

Statistics availabe from the UN Office for Drugs and Crime (it's all hidden in plain sight):


Marla And Me's picture

Few prople understand that major international banks make enormous profits off of wars, the drug trade, and numerous other black market activities:

Once you realize this, then all of their other actions also make sense.  Your elected leaders aren't here to help you; they are here to help their true paying masters. 

Tenma13's picture

would make alot of sense, the cynic in me think that the US wants the drug trade to adversely effect Russian society.

dan22's picture
Understanding “Blowback” and the Case for a Non Interventionist Foreign Policy In fact, long before Hamas was created Western governments, mainly the United States and Britain supported the growth of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt in order to sabotage the efforts of the Pro-Soviet Arab Nationalist leader Abdul Nasser. Abdul Nasser wanted to end Western domination and control in the Middle East and was perceived as a great threat to Western interests. So, Western government used the Islamic brotherhood to destabilize the Nasser government. Ironically, On 6 October 1981, Anwar Al-Sadat the president of Egypt who replaced Nasser, signed a peace treaty with Israel, and “switched sides” in the cold war was assassinated by the same Islamic Brotherhood which continues to conduct terrorist activities in Egypt up until this day. Understanding “Blowback” and the Case for a Non Interventionist Foreign Policy The same kind of crooked logic motivated the efforts to undermine the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) which was headed by Yasser Arafat. In 1978, under the government of then-Prime Minister Menachem Begin, Israel approved the application of Sheik Ahmad Yassin to start a “humanitarian” organization known as the Islamic Association, or Mujama. The roots of this Islamist group were in the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood, and this was the seed that eventually grew into Hamas. In its first years it was fertilized and nurtured with Israeli funding and political support. Begin and his successor, Yitzhak Shamir in an attempt to undercut the PLO, created the so-called Village Leagues, composed of local councils of handpicked Palestinians who were willing to collaborate with Israel and received Israeli payroll. Sheik Yassin and his followers soon became a force within the Village Leagues. As mentioned before, this tactical alliance between Yassin and the Israelis was based on a shared antipathy to the militantly secular and leftist PLO. Yassin’s group to publish a newspaper and set up an extensive network of charitable organizations, which collected funds not from the Israelis and from Arab states opposed to Arafat. Years later, Israeli helicopters and warplanes killed Yassin since he was the leader of Hamas.
jeff montanye's picture

this is all or at least largely true.  ron paul is absolutely right on this one.  the amazing fuck ups who run our country (and lots of the world) would feel less important but we the people would be much better off (and the wretched of the earth in fanon's phrase would be transcendentally, incalculably better off) if we limited our efforts to trade and aid.

Orly's picture

I think you will be surprised and amazed and how easily the locals can eradicate the poppy fields without the US Marines standing guard over it.

Orly's picture

For whoever "Junked" me, have a look at this picture, then "unjunk" me.

Wake up, people!

Arthor Bearing's picture

Junked because the graph doesn't convey much information, and doesn't cite a source.

i-dog's picture

The source is the UN Office for Drugs and Crime, here:

Now wake up to what is really going on, and unjunk him!

"Doesn't convey much information" ... !?!?!?!?!

Put on your spectacles and actually have a look at the 96% dip in production in 2001 after the Taliban RIPPED OUT the opium poppies in 2000. Then note the new record production levels after the US troops arrived just 4 weeks after 9-11. (It took them 18 months after 9-11 to go into Iraq, but just 4 weeks to get cracking into Afghanistan).


jeff montanye's picture

the problem is that as long as the potential for incredible wealth based on opium cultivation exists, powerful forces will try to wrest control of the area from the taliban or others who replace them.  and from time to time they will.  the only way to beat the sucker is legalization.  al capone, broadly defined, was never defeated while the volstead act was in force.  any other perspective is cynicism or delusion.   

Arthor Bearing's picture

I unjunked him, and never would have in the first place if he had provided proper context. In this day and age you just can't expect for a bunch of different-sized bars and numbers to be convincing, because that's exactly the kinds of methods that the propagandists use.

In all sincerity though, thanks for your insight

Carl Marks's picture

Decriminalize drug use and have the government take over the trafficking. That would eliminate the terrorist and criminal threat. Alternatively eradicate the poppy fields and the farmers, nuke Afghanistan and bring the troops home.

David449420's picture

Problem Solved !

Who would have thought it was so simple to solve.

Just out of curousity, What color is the sky in your world ?


turds in the punchbowl's picture

purdue pharma llp says: horoshim pomoshchnikom gospodina Medvedeva

NOTW777's picture

“We are making these drugs for Satan: America and the Jews. If we cannot kill them with guns so we will kill them with drugs.” 

"religion of peace"  and murder and drug dealing

NOTW777's picture

what logic

"The US Ambassador to Russia, John Beyrle, reiterated that the US would not take Russia’s advice about eradicating Afghanistan’s opium harvests anytime soon for fear of engendering popular alienation."

In other words, we know opium funds our enemy, but we refuse to cut off that source of funding because it might offend the locals; so we will allow our enemies to be well funded and spread terror to other places.

ZackAttack's picture

"for fear of engendering popular alienation."

Can anyone remember a time when that 'winning the hearts and minds' shit ever actually worked in a conflict of any significance?


jeff montanye's picture

this is the essential contradiction at the heart of george bush's (and now barack obama's) foreign policy:  the whole arc of the story leads to democratic voting (underlined) where the people you just invaded are supposed to vote for a government sympathetic to the ends and means of the invaders.  that is just the flat out case of this.  as rumsfeld famously doubted: are we making more of them than we are killing?  clearly making many many more than we are killing, in part by killing them, wounding them and trying to but missing.  

so stop the killing and the missing and change the dynamic from israel to vietnam after we "lost" the war.  we are not omnipotent.  we will bankrupt our treasury and our morality with this insane strategy.  look at the british empire and it was much better at it with a much greater historical advantage.

Tenma13's picture

British in Malaya, check out the book 'Eating soup with a Knife for a detailed account.' 

Blankman's picture

Patrick Ward, the Acting Deputy Director for Supply Reduction at the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, warned that intense anti-narcotics operations “will further undermine the rule of law and reinforce the nexus between drugs and terrorism”


Mr. Ward also stated off the record - "How the hell else do you think the CIA is going to fund its black ops?  We have a cut in this narcotics operation."

Pope Clement's picture

Right on brother blank, Jim Willie writes that it is a CIA operation and the money is laundered thru the gangster banks, interesting parallels with the 19th century Brit opiate trade in China etc...

knukles's picture

Gangster Banks?  Gangsta Banks? 
Who?  What?  You mean to tell me that none of our major US banks are NOT involved in the formal laundering of drug, criminal enterprise, governmental black or political funds?

Wachovia's old operation just the other day admitted to facilitating such.

And Why in Hell Does Anybody think that the Fed Will Never Be Audited?  Nobody.  Nobody gives a rats ass about auditing the Open Market Committee's Deliberations.  That is not what Paul and others had in mind, but became a shill to dismiss the actual intent of the formal audit proposed. 

Come on folks, every single wire transfer, clearance of checks goes through the Federal Reserve System.  Lock, stock, barrel, penny and dime.  Ever heard of a Fed Wire (transfer) Number?  Fair, earned or criminal.  Every single one.  No shit they'll never be audited, for then every single last transgression could/would be able to be made public.

Never Gonna Happen.
Never gonna see the light of day of the Fed's gold operations.  Nor offshore funds transfers of.......... 
You get the picture. 

jeff montanye's picture

yes, we see (that's when i fell for ...)

Sparkey's picture

I'm afraid I do believe this, I've read many times that the Taliban are against drugs on religious grounds, and that before the invasion Opium had been virtually eradicated, now, as US troops guard the fields Afghan Opium is again becoming the scourge of the world, Is this like the British -Chinese Opium wars,- some (anonymous folks must be living a high life on their "cut" of the action.

jeff montanye's picture

let's see: is there anyplace else in the world other than afghanistan where the opium poppy can be grown and the local government is not committed to drug eradication to the point of suicide?   hmmmm.

Tic tock's picture

..peace presumably with everyone but Satan.

-Not that they're right, they probably just feel that the 'Jew Bankers' who are stealing billions and live in a world not remotely connected to the 'ordinary man' -or maybe the Israeli state which exists and therefore must ban the imports of food and the development of agriculture to the troublemakers - and the US, who bomb anyone if they don't accept to have a pipeline, or other economic interest be paid for by some puppet state... killing people is wrong, doing so on religious grounds- what do you say -one should believe in something else? Besides, how may have the 'Christian west' killed over the last twenty years? ..they see Muhammed as a figurehead because he compromised rarely, he said some strange things, like having 'four wives, if you can do justice to all them, which you can't' and he was a hard bedou, like David who had so much blood on his hands that despite being most beloved of God, was not allowed to build the temple. Muhammed has rallied angry men - and you know, I think it is early to call whether they are angry without cause.

Blankman's picture

"Muhammed has rallied angry men - and you know, I think it is early to call whether they are angry without cause."


What?  I am not a very religious person for several reasons.  This line being one of them.  Anyone who believes in any form of "organized religion" should just do the rest of us a favor stop breeding.  Organized religion for the past thousand? years has stood for anything but faith in god.  It has been, and will be, a means for those in power to facilitate control of those with unrecognized fears, lack of self confidence/awareness and nothing past a public education - including college.  Start believing in oneself before you go and throw away your life following some "sacred" stones.  It always blows my mind when I try to discuss religion with people who hold a steadfast belief in the fact that their particular religion is the right one.  Compare chiristianity with the muslim faith or any faith: 


-all have a savior from god

-all have books written by man, not god (e.g. 500 years from now people may worship doctor suess)

-all have equally rich tales that the other religions say are preposterous

Don't get me wrong there are a lot of people who need to be led, perhaps religion satisfies that need.  i just want people to start looking to themselves for the answers to their own questions instead of blindly following words of someone they deem holier than them.    

lesterbegood's picture


Religion is the opiate of the masses - Vladamir Lenin

Arthor Bearing's picture

I find your lack of faith disturbing

You're a nihilist. Read this book and begin your initiation:


What's wrong with having leaders and followers? Wouldn't that require some kind of "means of control"?


Blankman's picture

Why do we need a means of control?  Have you no faith in the common decency of people?  I for one do.  I feel that man who has been given ultimate freedom will choose a life of peace over a life of violence and hatred.  I will read the book you recommended.  I do not watch much tv, occasionally watch movies as they are almost considered books of our times.  Just watched the "Book of Eli" found it to be spot on.  Whomever directed it was teaching you that it is not religions fault for its problems but the people who are in charge of religion who mess it up, take advantage and destroy what was once a great message.

Tenma13's picture

Religious deference boils down to a contest about who as the best imaginary friend. 

Noah Vail's picture

I mean really, who gives a rat's ass what happens to Afghanistan? Time to stop playing world policeman and deal with our own problems at home before it is too late.