#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:
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.
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.