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At last, George W can claim a breakthrough in his six year war in Afghanistan.
Things have not been going well there. Bush has spent $127 billion and lost 469 American lives in this war, but Osama bin Laden is still loose, Bush’s hand-picked Afghan president is so weak that he can barely venture outside his capital city, and the provincial Taliban leaders that our troops once drove out of power are now back.
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Still, the Bushites have made strides in one area: agriculture. Afghanistan is a very poor country, so to make ends meet, farmers there have had to rely on an illegal crop: opium poppies. Indeed, Afghan farmers account for 93 percent of the world’s opium production. This is not good, and it’s something that Bush & Company have been trying to change. Now a United Nations survey reports some significant progress: a northern Afghan province has been officially declared poppy-free this year! The UN report hails the province as a model “where leadership, incentives, and security have led farmers to turn their backs on opium.”
That’s terrific… but, to what did these farmers turn? Watermelon, maybe, or sweet potatoes? No, there’s no profitable market for these. Instead, the province is flourishing with ten-foot-tall cannabis plants – the source of the hashish and marijuana trade. In fact, more than half of Afghanistan’s provinces now cultivate cannabis, producing a 40 percent increase in the crop this year alone.
Drug dealers from the Taliban-controlled southern provinces buy the farmers’ illegal abundance and take it to market in neighboring Pakistan, another supposed U.S. ally. From there it is sold in the international market – with a portion of the profits going to al Qaeda and other forces fighting our troops.
Still, this is what counts as success in the wacky world of George W’s absurdist war policies.
“Afghan growers fill void left by anti-opium efforts with pot,” Austin American Statesman, December 2, 2007