The ridiculously hypocritical situation connecting the US occupation of Afganistan, the world's leader in opium production, and our failed drug war is old news, but we must keep talking about it. Unfortunately, as the drug war issue is discussed and debated more and more on TV and on the Internet, it is an issue that is hardly ever mentioned by our fellow soldiers and allies, though this information can be used to gain some powerful leverage against our opponents.
The whole issue breaks down like this:
- The US law enforcement system is waging a war against users and dealers of various illegal drugs including certain forms of opium such as heroine.
- One of the side effects of the drug war is that US citizens are being incarcerated at ridiculous rates, and poor minority youth are targeted at incredibly disproportionate rates by police that flood poorer neighborhoods while avoiding white middle-class and upper-class neighborhoods.
- Afganistan has been one of the world's leading opium suppliers, though the Taliban had instituted a ban on opium production in the area right before the US invasion of 2001. Opium production collapsed about 90% as a result of the ban.
- The US supported Northern Alliance ended the ban on opium production to win the hearts and minds of the local population, which has been heavily dependent upon the sale and production of opium in the past. The US government believes this is a necessary evil in order to keep the locals from hating and possibly attacking US soldiers.
- In 2007, 6 years after the start of the Afganistan war, the US Department of State determines that 93% of the world's illegal opium supply comes from Afganistan.
- The US government continues to incarcerate drug addicts alongside drug dealers, and our incarceration system is inadequate at curing addiction, a disease that often requires medical attention and supervision. In addition, jails and prisons serve as social centers for addicts and dealers, allowing the two groups to exchange phone numbers and email addresses in order to meet with each other once their sentences are up.
In the end, the US government is allowing opium production to flourish in Afganistan, and a large chunk of the opium that Afganistan produces will make its way to the US, allowing American heroine and opium addicts to feed their addictions while also punishing them for doing so. And all of this occurs at the cost of the American tax payer, and the whole system allows drug cartels and possibly terrorist organizations to fund their illegal and often violent operations with the money they make selling drugs to US citizens.