#WINNING: Afghan Poppy Production "At An All-Time High" UPDATED!


Via the Washington Free Beacon comes a link to this new study from the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction (SIGAR). The title kind of gives it away:


There's this:

According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Afghan farmers grew an unprecedented 209,000 hectares of opium poppy in 2013, surpassing the previous peak of 193,000 hectares in 2007. With deteriorating security in many parts of rural Afghanistan and low levels of eradication of poppy fields, further increases in cultivation are likely in 2014. 

As of June 30, 2014, the United States has spent approximately $7.6 billion on counternarcotics efforts in Afghanistan.

Whole report here.

Free Beacon account here.

Updated: Blogger, novelist, and Hit & Run reader extraordinaire Alan Vanneman writes "the poppies are only the tip of the iceberg" and sends along a link to this disturbing review of Anand Gopal's devastating book No Good Men Among the Living: Amerca, the Taliban, and the War Through Afghan Eyes.

Indeed, the poppies are only one indication of what complete clusterfuck is still unfolding in Afghanistan. From the start of Rory Stewart's review of Gopal in The New York Review of Books:

Gopal, a Wall Street Journal and Christian Science Monitor reporter, investigates, for example, a US counterterrorist operation in January 2002. US Central Command in Tampa, Florida, had identified two sites as likely "al-Qaeda compounds." It sent in a Special Forces team by helicopter; the commander, Master Sergeant Anthony Pryor, was attacked by an unknown assailant, broke his neck as they fought and then killed him with his pistol; he used his weapon to shoot further adversaries, seized prisoners, and flew out again, like a Hollywood hero.

As Gopal explains, however, the American team did not attack al-Qaeda or even the Taliban. They attacked the offices of two district governors, both of whom were opponents of the Taliban. They shot the guards, handcuffed one district governor in his bed and executed him, scooped up twenty-six prisoners, sent in AC-130 gunships to blow up most of what remained, and left a calling card behind in the wreckage saying "Have a nice day. From Damage, Inc." Weeks later, having tortured the prisoners, they released them with apologies. It turned out in this case, as in hundreds of others, that an Afghan "ally" had falsely informed the US that his rivals were Taliban in order to have them eliminated.

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  1. So consumer prices will be dropping, just like oil/gas prices right?

    1. Asking for a friend, kinnath?

      1. One person’s bad news is another person’s good news.

      2. I don’t have any friends. I’m a libertarian.

        1. Could be worse, you could be an Objectivist

          1. Hey! We’re PROUD of not having any friends!

            1. Well, isn’t THAT convenient?


    2. From what I can gather from the hysterical reporting on the subject of opiate abuse heroin prices have been falling for several years. I have no idea how much. My junkie friends have either disappeared or cleaned up at this point.

  2. According to the report, it’s the reconstruction that is ***causing*** the uptick in cultivation:

    “Affordable deep-well technology has turned 200,000 hectares of desert in southwestern Afghanistan into arable land over the past decade.”

    So I’m kinda missing the point here.


    2. So I’m kinda missing the point here.

      Why am I not surprised?

  3. Perhaps they’d grow organic Kale if we just ask real nice

  4. I had real Opium once in college and that shit is amazing. I can see how people get addicted very easily to it.

    1. Yup. I had a friend that lived across the street from a family of Laotians back in the 80’s. It is amazing.

      1. The ocean, what ocean?

        1. WTF?

        2. + 9 Rivers

      2. So, were they Chinese or Japanese?

        1. WTF?

    2. But they convert it to heroin due to the higher profit margin. Opium isn’t nearly as worthwhile an endeavor.

      1. I think that the compactness of heroin is the major reason for converting it.

  5. OT: Tee-Hee-Hee! He’s Soooooo Dreamy

    Any other pol and Jezebel would be screaming mouthrape.

    1. Pretty sure they’d let Elizabeth Warren get away with giving an unsuspecting girl an indian rugburn.

    2. I love how completely he (Barry) seduces her in under a minute. Like, “Mike, buddy, I could fuck your girlfriend if I wanted to. I could fuck all the girlfriends.”

      No cognitive disconnect here whatsoever. Move along people, nothing to see.

      1. If it was me and my boyfriend, the sentiment would be similar, but more for the fact that he knows that Mr. President CAN GET IT.

    3. It’s pretty amazing watching “feminists” in the comments declare how Obama could have them in an instant. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with that inherently–if someone would like to fuck someone, that’s their thing–but it’s sort of at odds with their daily screeching about patriarchy. I will never understand how someone can survive cognitive dissonance of that magnitude. By all measures, it should tear you apart, but these folks are utterly immune.

      1. Sure. Sexual harassment is a big thing with feminists, and many times their issue is a subtle one about employers with power over employees using that power to get sexual favors. Oh, except when the guy with the power is a Democratic president.

    4. “There’s an example of a brother just embarrassing me for no reason,” the President remarked, then teasing “I can’t believe Mike. He’s such a fool.”

      Obama may be the most awkward person on the planet. This is not funny or charming. It’s creepy and insulting.

    5. Emma GravediggerJustAColander
      48 minutes ago
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      You guys. He touched my shoulder, shook my hand, and looked me directly in the eye* after a campaign speech in 2008. And, sure, he wasn’t president yet, which makes it a little less cool. But that means we are talking about 2008 hope’n’change Obama back when we were projecting all our Utopian fantasies onto him and back before the presidency aged him 20 years. He was SO FINE! That was the moment I realized I was straight.

      *Yes, this moment lasted under five seconds. Yes, I am still bragging about it more than six years later.

      But it’s totally not a cult.

      1. The comments just keep getting worse.

      2. Maybe the reason she wasn’t sure if she was straight before is that she’s apparently only attracted to shitty men.

  6. It occurred to me at the time of the invasion that maybe we should ignore the WoD in Afghanistan. An illicit industry of this nature struck me as less problematic than exporting terror.

    1. How is exporting heroin not exporting terror? Have you seen the propaganda? Won’t you think of the children!?

    2. When I was working over there, my thoughts were the same. Counter-drug operations goals were often incompatible with counterinsurgency’s goals.

      But of course none of the decision-makers in Washington really paid much attention to the details on the ground, so they couldn’t be bothered to come up with a coherent strategy. When attacks went up, counterinsurgency was the priority..when people started complaining about poppies, counterdrug moved to the front. The civilian leadership could never figure out what, specifically, they wanted to accomplish, so the mission got made up as it went along.

      Bad way to fight a war for a decade.

    3. What I want to know is why doesn’t the US just buy the opium crop? It can’t cost much more than useless eradication efforts. And from what I can gather there is a shortage of morphine for medical use in a lot of places.

      1. I was figuring they could make all the money, then we could, if we must, encourage them to use the money to develop other industries. I mean, “nation-building” if it must be done seems like it requires an actual industry or two or the whole thing will blow apart.

      2. That’s a question I’ve been asking for years. If you’re going to go for this whole ‘nation building’ thing, and it’s nearly impossible to eradicate opium production, why are you not trying to control the opium supply yourself, rather than letting it fund the Taliban?

        1. Because the political backlash from that would be extreme and no politician wants to be seen as encouraging the opium trade.

          Besides, what are they going to do? Burn the whole supply? That just means that prices will remain high, so somebody else will grow it and sell it to satisfy demand.

          1. Less burn the whole supply, and more have the Afghani government/tribal leaders export the market for income, similar to the Taliban. Purely Machiavellian speculation here.

            This is basically a perfect summary of the differences between American ‘nation building’ and British imperialism. At least the Brits understood local power structures and exploited them for resources. American ‘nation building’ is a slurry of objectives that counteract one another.

            1. But our intentions are good.

            2. The Brits took the time to understand local power structures because they were interested in conquest and control. We, on the other hand, try to go for both “stability” operations and giving autonomy to the locals to run their own government, which is generally a stupid course of action in a country that hasn’t even developed the civic institutions to support the kind of government we tend to encourage…you can’t really do both at the same time, although it’s possible (albeit not probable) to have stability ops, followed by autonomy (e.g. post-WWII Japan). But that also requires a hell of a lot more time, money, lives, and planning than we’re willing to put in. It certainly requires more forethought and intelligence than either Bush or Obama displayed.

              Our support is also passive-aggressive, at best…we pay a lot of lip service to granting people “freedom”, but our president is more than happy to threaten punishment if those leaders don’t make exactly the choices in governance that our President finds politically popular for himself.

          2. “no politician wants to be seen as encouraging the opium trade.”

            Why the fuck not? There are plenty of legitimate uses for opiates. Isn’t that how the heroin industry in Turkey was mostly stopped? Make the whole thing legitimate. There is plenty of legitimate demand for morphine and various opioids for which poppy is a raw material.

            Of course, there would still be demand for heroin. But it’s probably better for some less terroristic band of criminals to get that money.
            The obvious answer is to legalize everything, but that’s not about to happen.

            1. If heroin were legal (and yes, I’m pro-legalization), I still wouldn’t want the U.S. government (or any government) involved in supply…because they’d somehow manage to fuck it up and create horrible outcomes.

              You’re basically arguing for a semi-mercantilist/imperialist arrangement, like with the East India Company. We’re better off just staying out of their dysfunctional internal issues altogether.

        2. Then you feed the opiates in to Obamacare to drive down prices by cutting out the middlemen.

    4. Most of it goes to Iran anyway. Win win.

      1. But then they’ll be too stoned to stop ISIS!

  7. I guess you either can have the Taliban or you can have lots of opium. They somehow managed to cut production a lot. Didn’t they get some grants from the US for their poppy eradication efforts not too long before 911?

    1. A lot of the poppy growers are acting under contract (of sorts) for local warlords or corrupt officials (and sometimes Taliban). When the Taliban controlled Afghanistan, they weren’t that worried about external threats, since the Northern Alliance was bottled up in the Panjshir Valley, so they had no problem with telling the warlords (who they effectively controlled) to cut poppy production.

      Replace the Taliban with a weak central government that has limited authority outside of Kabul and even less respect, and the warlords figure why not go back to growing poppy? It’s the most profitable crop for that terrain and it doesn’t spoil, like food, so it’s a durable product that you don’t have to sell in a short timeframe.

      Basically, poppy is a crop that’s symptomatic of an unstable government and society. I suppose the answer would be to “fix” the Afghanistan government and eradicating poppy could follow, but since we’re little better at navigating Afghani politics than we were when we arrived, that’s not a realistic solution.

      1. “Basically, poppy is a crop that’s symptomatic of an unstable government and society.”

        I’d say government putting people in jail for acts that don’t harm others to be symptomatic of a country with a government out of control, that harms people where no one was harmed initially.

        As far as people harming themselves with opium/drugs/bad driving/no exercise/etc., freedom gives them the responsibility to accept the consequences of their actions. Thus, as they’ve harmed no one else, government shouldn’t be involved.

  8. There is absolutely no problem here. There is nothing wrong with Afghanistan becoming a narco-state as long as the Taliban or other Jihadist miscreants don’t control it. And I am pretty sure a big supply is a good way to keep any one group from controlling it.

    Interestingly, MJ legalization in CO and WA have pushed MJ prices in Mexico so low that they are now planting poppy in Mexico and Guatemala. Volumes are probably not that high, but I imagine it will increase and take a bite out of Afghanistan’s share. MJ legalization is so awesome it’s helping or going to help defund the Taliban.

  9. ” the United States has spent approximately $7.6 billion on counternarcotics efforts subsidizing corruption in Afghanistan.”


  10. How much of that $7.6B funds Damage, Inc.?

    1. Well if you’re not gonna do it.

  11. If the government didn’t do stuff like this, who would?

    Some corporation? Hah!

  12. Blogger, novelist, and Hit & Run reader extraordinaire Alan Vanneman

    For fuck’s sake Gillespie, don’t feed him.


  13. Hashtag Winning? I’m trying to figure out what this obscure Charlie Sheen reference has to do with the Fed’s failed war on drugs, and I’m drawing a blank.

  14. Nation building: giving some people power and money, whereby they use it to benefit themselves, and oppress the citizenry.

    Where did you think our politicians got the idea to build nations, and how to build them? And why shouldn’t they grow poppies if there’s money to be made in it?

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