A lot of intelligence - much of it unclassified and possible to discuss here - indicated that senior Afghan officials were deeply involved in the narcotics trade. Narco-traffickers were buying off hundreds of police chiefs, judges and other officials. Narco-corruption went to the top of the Afghan government. The attorney general, Abdul Jabbar Sabit, a fiery Pashtun who had begun a self-described "jihad against corruption," told me and other American officials that he had a list of more than 20 senior Afghan officials who were deeply corrupt - some tied to the narcotics trade. He added that President Karzai - also a Pashtun - had directed him, for political reasons, not to prosecute any of these people.MEGAN: Is there some reason it matters that they're both Pashtun? Also, in an barely-stable government, I can sort of see the reason if he thinks that the narco-corruption isn't one of the destabilizing forces. MOE: Well the news here is that no only has opium production grown — a UN report says 80% of poppies in the south were planted in the last two years — it is funding the insurgency and making farmers rich and Afghan officials all the way up to Karzai continue to say things like "it's tradition and poverty makes them do it and we don't want you to dust our crops aerially with pesticides because our poor farmers will think it is poison coming from the sky" when such things are demonstrably not true. MEGAN: Crop dusting didn't really make us — or the Colombian government — a ton of friends when we did it there either but we didn't exactly stop doing it. MOE: Well we haven't apparently started doing it in Afghanistan. The point is twofold, though. It's not so much that, according to this guy, how do you keep Afghanistan from becoming the Colombia of opiates, but whether you can use what you learned in Colombia to cut off the flow of funds to the insurgency, I think, I am not through yet though. I mean, I guess eventually, as in Colombia, everyone is in the business, on both sides, and then everything is just …really violent until someone like Uribe comes in and decides to grant wholescale amnesty to pretty much anyone who asks. MOE:
Karzai was playing us like a fiddle: the U.S. would spend billions of dollars on infrastructure improvement; the U.S. and its allies would fight the Taliban; Karzai's friends could get rich off the drug trade; he could blame the West for his problems; and in 2009 he would be elected to a new term.MEGAN: Awww, he's like a mini GWB, just with drugs instead of oil! MOE: Hahaha the chief of the anticorruption commission is a convicted heroin dealer. MOE: And here's our little microcosm of the whole damn thing:
At the same time, the 101st Airborne arrived in eastern Afghanistan. Its commanders promptly informed Ambassador Wood that they would only permit crop eradication if the State Department paid large cash stipends to the farmers for the value of their opium crop. Payment for eradication, however, is disastrous counternarcotics policy: If you pay cash for poppies, farmers keep the cash and grow poppies again next year for more cash. And farmers who grow less-lucrative crops start growing poppies so that they can get the money, too. Drug experts call this type of offer a "perverse incentive," and it has never worked anywhere in the world.Sort of like the drug war has never worked anywhere in the world? MEGAN:
MOE: Or Bush could blame the Middle East for his problems? MEGAN: Hell, that shit doesn't even work in U.S. farm policy. You pay subsidies for wheat, they grow more wheat. You pay subsidies to let marginal lands grow wild, people plant on marginal lands for a year or two to collect the subsidies. MOE: It would be a more direct counterpart. MOE: Okay here is something depressing (or heartening?) Check the fucking comments. Some of the stuff that has been "recommended" is basically illiterate. MOE: Such as
KarzaiBush was playing us like a fiddle: the U.S. would spend billions of dollars on infrastructure improvement; the U.S. and its allies would fight the Talibanin Iraq; Karzai'sBush's friends could get rich off the drugoil trade; he could blame the Westliberals for hisour problems; and in 20092004 he would be elected to a new term.
2008 8:35 am After I saw American Gangster, I knew that the increase in heroin production was no accident. I'm sure the DEA is involved in shipping the drugs back to American cities. It's no wonder we can't see the coffins unloaded at Andrews Airforce Base. - Jane, Royal Oak, MI Recommended by 7 ReadersMEGAN: You know, there's a growing debate about whether to allow comments on newspapers' websites for exactly that reason. Like, I know Gawker employs a person (hey, Kaila! your hair is probably lovely today!) whose job it is to weed out the crazies and I've looked in the bin and WHOO boy are there some crazy people out there who write some crazy ass shit. But I guess because newspapers have higher comment volumes, or higher crazy volumes or haven't been able to figure out how to monetize their websites, they can't manage that shit? MOE: Incidentally that other drug is in the news today too. MEGAN: OH, speaking of drug wars, I've seen so many freaking meth heads back here. Upstate NY was slow to come to the metholution because of the easy access to good Canadian weed, but I do believe we've finally made it into the 21st century! MOE: Yesterday I found this old story on Gabriel Garcia Marquez advocating "outlaw American chemists" develop a kind of synthetic cocaine to rival the real deal as a way to combat his own country's addiction to easy money. But um I sort of feel like, that's how we got meth, and meth did not do much good for Colombia. MEGAN: Or Afghanistan! Meth is for people that can't afford crack, let alone coke, or heroin shipping in for Afghanistan, and who don't mind the side effects like the black teeth and the faster progression to heroin chic and the complete wasted crazy look that horrifies me in a bar to the point where my friend has to remind me to stop staring at the meth head.