Afghanistan

U.S. Ramps Up Drug War in Afghanistan

Using F-22 fighters for the first time

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DoD

Washington has spent more than $8 billion on counternarcotics efforts in Afghanistan since 2002, and it has a record-breaking poppy season in 2017 to show for it. Naturally, it plans to double down

The top American commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Nicholson, announced yesterday that U.S. airstrikes are now targeting drug labs in that country. This is the first time the U.S. has used F-22s, which cost $340 million apiece, in Afghanistan, and it's the first time U.S. forces have used their new power—granted by President Donald Trump in August—to order airstrikes against Taliban revenue streams. (Previously such strikes could be used only to defend U.S. or allied forces or positions.)

Seven drug labs were bombed in this week's campaign. The Drug Enforcement Administration estimates that there are as many as 500 opium labs across Afghanistan.

Nicholson stressed that the drug war in Afghanistan won't make much of a dent on heroin use here, since only about 4 percent of America's supply of the drug comes from there.

The U.S. has eradicated thousands of hectares of poppy fields over the years, only to see poppy production continue to grow. In this way, the U.S. war on drugs is like the war on drugs writ large: It wastes a lot of money while failing to stem the tide of drugs. A U.N. report this year on poppy production in Afghanistan warned that the rise in production and productivity would lead to lower prices and higher quality opium available on the world markets. A 2013 study saw the same results for anti-drug measures in the U.S., Europe, and Australia.

Targeting opium labs is unlikely to be any more effective than targeting opium fields has been. After all, given the profit margins in the opium trade, rebuilding labs should not be a problem. The U.N. says this year's record crop could lead to increased funding to the terrorist groups that are intimately involved in opium farming. Duh.

In more than 40 years, the U.S. has essentially no success stories in the war on drugs—not domestically and not overseas. It has failed to put a dent in drug use; it has failed to curb supply; it has frequently failed even to drive prices up. Instead, it has precipitated an explosion of new, dangerous drugs for which there would not be a need had other drugs not been prohibited. (The drug war is a major reason crystal meth exists in the first place.)

Meanwhile, policy makers are struggling to find a reason to remain in Afghanistan. On Monday, Nicholson bragged that the U.S. was no longer on a time-based mission (though it's hard to imagine that was ever really true, given the length of the war so far). "The new U.S. strategy on Afghanistan is conditions based not time bound, which means we will eliminate terrorists until the end," he said.

Like the war on drugs, that could go on forever.

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  1. Might as well just heap up my tax dollars and torch them all… At least, that way we could roast some marshmallows!

  2. There’s something unseemly about using weapons of war in another country simply to destroy production and inventory of something with no military application. I can’t put my finger on it, though.

    1. Well I mean as long as it’s a country you’ve declared war on, that’s something.

      1. What if it’s a country you are simultaneously both at war with and allied with and trying to rebuild?

        1. That’s called jump starting the economy.

    2. Weren’t we giving them tulip bulbs or something to plant instead? How did that work out?

    3. I was goijng to post myself that that’s pretty shocking. Did they ever before say they would deliberately attack something w no military appl’n & that might have living people in it?

      Of course there’d be no cause for war if all people did was attack military threats. Seems the whole reason to have war is to attack something non-military, but they pretend it’s the other way around. I’d never attack military targets if I could avoid it, only the people who are the real source of the threat or could put a stop to it, like women & children.

  3. Obviously, what’s needed is an increase in defense spending in congressional districts where F-22 parts are made!

    1. That’s like everywhere, man. Haven’t you read the classic “I, F-22”?

  4. Targeting opium labs is unlikely to be any more effective than targeting opium fields has been. After all, given the profit margins in the opium trade, rebuilding labs should not be a problem. The U.N. says this year’s record crop could lead to increased funding to the terrorist groups that are intimately involved in opium farming.

    I don’t know where the hell you learned about economics, but bombing the drug labs restricts the supply of opium and thereby decreases the profits in opium. I mean, this is the law of supply and demand, one of the most basic laws of economics. Decreasing the supply of something decreases the demand for it and lowers the price of it because nobody wants what nobody has. You don’t think the government is some bunch of idiots who would deliberately raise the profits in opium by destroying the opium supply, do you?

    1. You know, this is how Venezuela got to be the paradise it is. Do you know that in Venezuela toilet paper costs like a nickel at the grocery store? Venezuela is able to maintain this remarkably low price on toilet paper by the simple expedient of restricting supply to the point where there’s no toilet paper in the stores. If Venezuela eased up and actually had toilet paper in the stores, it would undoubtedly cost more than a nickel. That’s supply and demand at work! No supply, no demand, low, low prices.

  5. It’s nice to see that eliminating the Taliban government and attempting to capture Bin Laden in the wake of 9/11 morphed into a never-ending chase scene from The French Connection.

    1. More like a Justified-Rambo-crossover-themed Whac-a-Mole board.

      1. Super Mario Run, but instead of mushrooms it’s horse and instead of $10 it costs $1 trillion.

        1. And the koopas have Mitch McConnell’s face.

      2. “Yo! Those moles drew first blood, not me. I’ve shot rodents I like more for less.”

        That’s the best I can come up with. Rayland and Rambo are like oil and water.

  6. Is everyone reading some diferent story than the one on my computer?

    it’s the first time U.S. forces have used their new power?granted by President Donald Trump in August?to order airstrikes against Taliban revenue streams

    Nicholson stressed that the drug war in Afghanistan won’t make much of a dent on heroin use here, since only about 4 percent of America’s supply of the drug comes from there.

    There’s war, and there’s drugs but this isn’t what we usually think of as the “War on Drugs”

    1. The difference is that our monitors aren’t splattered with Trump-spooge and feathers.

      1. Trump-Spooge And Feathers is considered BABA MAGA’s experimental album. But it is SIV’s favorite.

  7. “Like the war on drugs, that could go on forever.”

    You wouldn’t want our “warriors” to have to get real jobs, would you?

  8. It would be much cheaper to pay the farmers of the raw material a little more than their customers who process it into drugs. That’s what Mike Mcconnell, 700WLW The Big One, Cincinnati, suggested many years ago. Seems like an idea worth trying to me.

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