Free Minds & Free Markets

Thomas Massie: War on Drugs in Afghanistan Has Been a Failure

Opium production up since the Taliban left, after billions spent on counternarcotics.

screencapscreencapAt a House hearing today on reconstruction spending in Afghanistsan, Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) pressed witnesses from the Department of Defense on what kind of metrics they use to gauge success in their counternarcotic efforts in that country.

"The war on drugs in Afghanistan," Massie concluded, "to the extent there is a war on drugs, has been a failure."

The United States has spent $113 billion in Afghanistan since 2002, on reconstruction efforts alone—that money has been spent on the Afghan National Security Forces (for whom U.S. troops remain in Afghanistan to support fifteen years later), promoting good governance and "engaging in counternarcotics," according to Gen. John Sopko, the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction.

According to Sopko's testimony, 8.4 billion of those dollars were spent on counternarcotics efforts specifically.

What did the U.S. have to show for it? Massie couldn't get an answer, despite 90 percent of non-pharmaceutical opiate production happening in Afghanistan and opium being one of the most successful cash crops for Afghanistan since the American invasion. Massie suggested the rise in opium production in Afghanistan could be related to the heroin "epidemic" in the U.S.

After the initial American invasion, the U.S. briefly flirted with supporting the cultivation of cotton in Afghanistan—which had the potential to undercut opium production—but bungled the effort, as Rajeev Chandrasekaran wrote in his 2012 book on the Afghanistan war, Little America.

Sopko said Afghan farmers were producing more opium "now then they did during the Taliban years." In fact, the U.S. spent $43 million in 2001 in support of the Taliban's poppy eradication efforts, just six months before 9/11 and seven months before the start of the U.S. war in Afghanistan that toppled the theocratic regime. "It has been a successful export for the last 15 years that we have been there," Sopko said.

Christine Abizaid, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for Afghanistan, noted that opium production had gone down in the last year, but that that was largely due to weather patterns. She insisted the DOD's counternarcotics spending was successful because the money largely went to support an Afghan aviation program, "the special mission wing," which was "one of the most successful programs in Afghanistan," even though she couldn't say "whether that's affected the overall levels of opiates and poppy cultivation" because she didn't have those numbers.

Top men. Top women.

Watch the exchange below:

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  • Aloysious||

    Obviously, the war on growing flowers is underfunded.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    But the war on Afghanistan in drugs has been a rousing success!

  • CZmacure||
    Even successful incineration had its drawbacks.
    "A couple of brown plants on the edges of some of those (forests) did catch on fire. But a section of soldiers that was downwind from that had some ill effects and decided that was probably not the right course of action," Hillier said dryly.

  • John C. Randolph||

    Sopko said Afghan farmers were producing more opium "now then they did during the Taliban years."

    As I recall, the taliban put some serious effort into suppression opium cultivation. Like, with head chopping and shit.


  • pan fried wylie||

    Guns and flashbangs now officially chopped liver.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    The Caliphate isn't really keen on alternative lifestyles.

  • Trigger Hippie||

    I remember hearing something about the Taliban being reliant on opium production to fund their government and terrorism aspirations as well as being used as a method to undermine western civilization.

    Of course, I first heard this in the early 00's, about the same time the US government was airing commercials basically saying if you consume any illegal substance you support terrorism so I can't reliably back that up.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    [insert expostulation of astonishment]

  • MWG||

    Wait a minute... so is Massie for or against the WOD in Afghanistan and in the US?

  • Migrant Log Chipper||

    And then there's stupid people like you that can't fucking read or comprehend.....fuck off, moron.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    "Do I look like someone who has something to do here on Earth?" - That's what I'd like to answer the busybodies who inquire into my activities."

  • Marty Feldman's Eyes||

    I'm in Bolivia at the moment. For all his faults, I truly admire that Morales told the DEA to fuck off and get out. Can't believe other countries haven't followed suit.

  • Hank Phillips||

    If the past is any indication, the NSA might bug their phones and emails, and leak their every move to opposition parties and tax collectors. It's like that scene in Atlas Shrugged where "One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws." Bolivia threw out one US "diplomat" for espionage. She transferred to Paraguay and the streets filled with protesters demanding the president's impeachment. She then went to the Caribbean as a narc and gunfire deaths increased 800%. After that she was transferred to Brazil and the streets promptly filled with protesters demanding the reelected president's impeachment. Bradley Manning and Snowden were trying to tip us off about some ugly goings-on.

  • Migrant Log Chipper||

    Idiot number 2. Need some coin to fashion your tinfoil hat

  • buybuydandavis||

    What would it cost for us to buy every opium poppy in Afghanistan? I can't imagine the farmers are making much money.

  • MSimon||

    It would cost more. And more. Because an unlimited demand would create an unlimited supply.

  • Sevo||

    Why would it be any different in Afghanistan than it is any place else?

  • SIV||

    There's a front-running presidential candidate with a 20+ year history of advocating legalization of the stuff.

  • Meow-shawn!||

    Massie would be a good president. Better than we deserve.

  • Migrant Log Chipper||

    Agreed...but it would never happen. Common sense and the beltway..pffffttttt., sadly.

  • SQRLSY One||

    Meanwhile, little boys and little girls in shit-hole third-world nations use whiskey or nothing for painkiller while having their teeth worked on, for lack of painkillers... Opiates would be dirt-cheap except for all the moralistic busy-bodies. WOD shit-heads deserve to rot in hell, MeThinks...

  • AlmightyJB||

    "billions spent"

    So exactly as planned

  • Hank Phillips||

    It's not as if any of those billions were money earned by politicians and confiscated...

  • AlmightyJB||

    Isn't being against the WOD grounds for a wiretap?

  • Hank Phillips||

    Brazil's president is not big on jailing people for no reason, which is enough to draw the boiling wrath of American prohibition jihadists. Just today some bungling prosecutor produced insignificant messages recorded from her phone calls with her predecessor. Not long ago Snowden's tips led to discovery of wiretaps on the German chancellor's phone. US exporting of torch-and-pitchfork prohibitionism and money-laundering treaties to protect the communist manifesto income tax has made it possible for the NSA to sabotage every government and political party in the world.

  • See.More||

    "The war on drugs ... has been a failure."


  • Hank Phillips||

    The war on (some) drugs thing seemed so like a SNL skit I was actually looking for Kristen Wiig under makeup and hair dye when the DOD gal admitted her ignorance. The last ticker-tape parade on any of these prohibition "wars" was FDR's third reelection after repeal of the Volstead act, which made him President-for-life. Also, the same product entered These States when military transports were ferrying back and forth in the sixties. Nobody wanted nauseating poisons in San Francisco if there was anything else to be had.

  • __Warren__||

    How was it a failure? The money was taken from taxpayers and given to others with stronger government connections.

    That's how it works.

  • Migrant Log Chipper||

    Fuck off, idiot.

  • MSimon||

    I'd like to take drugs seriously. Got any? Got a lot?

  • ThomasDodrill||

    The war on (a few) drugs thing appeared to be so like a SNL play I was really searching for Kristen Wig under cosmetics and hair color when the DOD lady conceded her obliviousness. The keep going ticker-tape parade on any of these denial "wars" was FDR's third reelection after nullification of the Volstead demonstration, which made him President-forever. Likewise, the same item entered These States when military transports were shipping forward and backward in the sixties. No one needed sickening toxins in San Francisco if there was whatever else to be had.
    professional resume writing service

  • ||

    I have recently come to the conclusion that the best way to damage Taliban would be global legalization of heroin. Once the black market premium falls off and the market bottoms out they wouldn't be able to do Taliban things with their Taliban friends.

  • Bob K||

    Problem is the Taliban was actively trying to get rid of opium as the article stated. It is our "allies" that are growing opium hence the increase in production. Plus the Taliban has never been a global terrorist group. They are just local shitburgs who are a bunch of assholes to their countrymen and are brutal cunts towards their women. But they didn't attack the USA and if we had given them time they may (may being the keyword) have helped us capture/kill Osama and Al Qaeda. The problem was our country was in no mood to be patient and were not going to listen to a bunch of excuse from these shitheels. So we made the decision to bomb them and use the Pashtuns as proxies to overthrow the Taliban.

  • ||

    No, I assure you, the Taliban has a vested interest in ensuring the poppies grow.They have an extensive infrastructure established to transport and process the harvests and funnel funds back in to operations. They do some sort of doctrinal gymnastics to resolve it with their Wahhabism (e.g. its okay if it only gets sold to Khafirs since they are hell-bound anyways). Plus the Taliban has always been mostly Pashtun, the Northern Alliance was largely a Tajik alliance out of Badakashan, Takar and Kunduz whereas the Taliban's base of power has traditionally been out of the south in Helmand and Kandahar. Your assessment of them as a regional threat is accurate, it don't think they even make the list as "international terrorist."

    My personal take is that a "punitive" campaign against the Taliban was at least somewhat justified our mistake was trying to nation build (again). If the Bush administration had just kicked them in the head and left them with a, "don't make me come back here again" and left them to figure out how to stop being assholes, it would have been better for everyone.

  • Rockabilly||

    How can this be? The progs says government works !

  • Uncle Jay||

    RE: Thomas Massie: War on Drugs in Afghanistan Has Been a Failure

    The war on drugs has been a failure?
    Who would've thought?


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