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Can Anyone Pacify the World's Number One Narco-State, The Opium Wars in Afghanistan
Today TomDispatch is especially proud to be posting a first, an unprecedented and dramatic history of the 30-year American war in Afghanistan as a drug war -- by an expert in the CIA and drug wars -- that takes you from 1979 to late tomorrow night: Alfred W. McCoy, "Can Anyone Pacify the World's Number One Narco-State, The Opium Wars in Afghanistan" (And don't miss the latest TomCast audio interview in which McCoy discusses just who is complicit in the Afghan opium trade.)
It's strange. Afghanistan produces more than 90% of the world's opium supply and is the number one narco-state on the planet. The Taliban is significantly supported by drug money -- and so is the government of Hamid Karzai. So, in fact, are the Afghan people. And yet drugs and the drug trade are largely dealt with as ancillary issues in the Afghan War.
Now, Alfred McCoy, historian and noted expert on the drug trade and the CIA -- the Agency actually tried unsuccessfully to suppress his classic Vietnam-era book The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade -- offers a remarkable account of the drug wars in Afghanistan. After a look at the recent U.S. military operation in Marja, the opium capital of the world, he backtracks to a moment in 1979 when Afghanistan produced next to no poppies and offers a remarkable history of how, with the help of the U.S., the Soviets, warlords, druglords, the Taliban, the Karzai government, and others it became the drug state extraordinaire on planet Earth.
He shows just how decades of war, as well as agricultural and environmental destruction, left Afghan farmers with little choice but to turn to the poppy, which proved ideally suited to the Afghan climate. More important, he shows just how and why no one will pacify or even help Afghanistan without taking true stock of the drug trade -- and why serious, long-term rural development, not massive military intervention, is the only answer to Afghanistan's problems.
There is no way to sum up this powerful, monumental piece. It will change the way you look at the Afghan war. Don't miss it. Read it now.