Saturday, September 2, 2024
By Steven L. Taylor

The following should be no surprise to anyone, yet the tone of the article nonetheless has the breathless air of shock to it (via the AP): U.S. official warns on Afghanistan opium

Opium cultivation in Afghanistan is spiraling out of control, rising 59 percent this year to produce a record 6,100 tons — nearly a third more than the world’s drug users consume, the U.N. said Saturday.


The estimated yield of 6,100 tons of opium resin — enough to make 610 tons of heroin — is up from 4,100 tons in 2024, exceeding the highest ever global output of 5,764 tons recorded in 1999.

Which, of course, will mean that street price for heroin will drop.

Apart from that, is it not blatantly obvious that Good Place to Cultivate Drug Material + Highly Incomplete State + Lots of Very, Very Poor People = Massive Cultivation of Drug Material?

As such, the increased production is hardly a surprise.

And, it is worth noting, that this is not simply a post-invasion phenomenon: the previous record (as noted above) was during the Taliban period. (For some info on opium poppy cultivation and price, go here).

And while all of the following may well be true, the bottom line is that US policy has not been especially successful in this arena (see: Cocaine and Latin America):

The top U.S. anti-narcotics official in Afghanistan also warned that the illicit trade in opium and heroin threatened the country’s fledgling democracy, instituted after the ouster of the hard-line Taliban regime nearly five years ago by U.S.-led forces.

“This country could be taken down by this whole drugs problem,” Doug Wankel told reporters in Kabul — echoing strong rhetoric voiced by Karzai last month. “We have seen what can come from Afghanistan, if you go back to 9/11. Obviously the U.S. does not want to see that again.”

“If this thing gets out of hand, you could move from a narco-economy to a narco-state. Then you have a very difficult chance for this country being able to achieve what it needs to as a democracy and a nation representing its people,” he said.

Indeed, the situation in Afghanistan could be quite a bit worse than what we have seen in Latin America, as even the worst cases in LA have far more developed states and economies than exist in Afghanistan.

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2 Responses to “Afghanistan’s Opium”

  • el
  • pt
    1. PoliBlog: A Rough Draft of my Thoughts » Images from Peru (Coca Bush Edition) Says:

      [...] Speaking of the cultivation of certain types of plants, I was able to see an actual coca bush during my trip to the Amazon. Coca leaves, the key raw ingredient in cocaine, are used by indigenous peoples across the region. Primarily it is used as an appetite suppressant when chewed, allowing people to work through the day without stopping to eat–either for efficiency’s sake or because there is an insufficient supply of food. [...]

    2. Alan Kellogg Says:

      I’d sooner the Afghan government made money from opium sales than lose resources trying to suppress it.

      It’s time we stopped trying to control lives and let some people kill themselves off.

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