Could the government protect water supplies to grow other crops?
Could the government support markets for other crops?
How about cracking down on money laundering through the big banks?
Target the laboratories?
June 6, 2009:
BRUSSELS - NATO forces should target drug labs in Afghanistan, which would cut off a major source of funding for insurgents, said U.S. Army Gen. John Craddock, Supreme Allied Commander for Europe. "If we can destroy the processing facilities, then we can do a lot to stop the insurgency," Craddock said. "If we can take out the wherewithal to make bombs and bullets, isn't that a good thing?" He said his proposal was not about crop eradication and said that there was a "handful of NATO countries that have not listened to the argument."
Good idea. Must be time to retire then?
June 30, 2009:
STUTTGART, Germany — Adm. James G. Stavridis became the 15th U.S. European Command (USEUCOM) commander during a change of command ceremony at Patch Barracks here June 30. The Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen presided over the ceremony that transferred command to Stavridis from Army Gen. John Craddock, who served as the USEUCOM commander since December 2006.
October 23, 2010: (via There Are No Sunglasses)
WASHINGTON (AP) — Russia is complaining that the United States has not acted on information the top Russian anti-drug official provided about many narcotics laboratories in Afghanistan. Victor Ivanov, the head of Russia's federal drug control agency, says he provided U.S. officials in Kabul months ago the coordinates of 175 laboratories where heroin is processed. He says U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency officials in Kabul have told him they are awaiting U.S. military approval to take down the labs. "For some reason they are unable to carry out any operations to destroy these laboratories, because there is a delay from the military side," Ivanov told The Associated Press through an interpreter Thursday.
...Ivanov has said that Russia has 2 million opium and heroin addicts.
NATO has urged Moscow to contribute to the war effort in Afghanistan by training more counternarcotics agents and providing helicopters to the Afghan government's air force. Ivanov said he also has suggested going after the major landlords in Afghanistan's poppy growing region by submitting their names to the United Nations for sanctions. "It wouldn't be difficult to trace them," he said. Ivanov said he discussed the issue with U.S. special envoy Richard Holbrooke and other officials Thursday, then left frustrated that they provided no evidence that poppy eradication would strengthen the Taliban. "It sounded not like constructive discussion but a manifestation of stubbornness," he said. "I cannot say they are not listening. They are listening very carefully and attentively. But unfortunately, there are no results."
Russia Beyond the Headlines June 9, 2010: The silk route of the Afghan poppy, By Igor Yavlyansky, Izvestia
Moscow proposes the creation of an international coalition to fight the production of narcotics in Afghanistan
From this interview with Nikolai Tsvetkov, the deputy director of the Russian Federal Service to Control the Drug Trade (FSKN), head of the State Anti-Narcotics Committee, we learn:
1. Many of the regions where heroin is produced from opium are not regions where the war is going on.
2. Afghanistan needs economic development so that farmers can grow wheat, not poppies.
3. Narcotics production has grown by a factor of 40 since NATO entered Afghanistan in 2001.
4. Helmand province, bordering Pakistan, produces the most opium (59.2% of the Afghan harvest, 4,085 tons in 2009).
- Helmand province is sparsely populated, with 5% of the Afghan population.
- Helmand province experiences constant armed clashes.
- Helmand province is primarily under the control of UK forces.
5. Afghan narcotics take three main routes. The Northern route is aimed at Russia.
"Obviously, we no longer share a direct border with Afghanistan. There is the former Afghan-Soviet border. That line is controlled by Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. The longest section is the Tajiks. It is also the most complex in terms of the topography. The Uzbeks have a comparatively small section. And finally the Turkmens have a fairly long section. As far as we can judge, it too is fairly porous. That is, it wouldn’t cause smugglers much trouble. The narco-transit zone includes parts of Kyrgyzstan, also Kazakhstan, with which we share a land border of 7,500 km. (4,650 miles). Of course, the law-enforcement structures in these neighboring countries do what they are supposed to do. But the fact remains: the flow of narcotics from Afghanistan is now an avalanche. Therefore we are interested in even closer cooperation with our colleagues in Central Asia, Iran, and of course, Afghanistan itself."
6. The Northern route moves 25-30% of Afghan drug volume. These drugs flow into Russia. According to Tsvetkov, the drugs do not pass through Russia to Europe.
7. Synthetic drugs move from Europe into Russia.
8. According to Tsvetkov, Afghan drugs reach Europe through a second route, the Balkan route, which goes through Iran, Turkey and Kosovo. "The border between Iran and Afghanistan, by the way, is very strict and well fortified." Despite the risk, product still moves through the Iranian border using the Balkan route.
9. Drugs also cross the Iranian-Azerbaijani border on the way into Russia. Many drugs pass through Dagestan, which is known as the "golden gates" or "golden bridge."
10. Drugs may also cross the Caspian "from a port in northern Iran, for example, to Derbent, to Astrakhan, to Makhachkala, and also from Turkmenistan." These are all cities on the Caspian.
11. The Southern route goes through Pakistan and Balochistan, through the areas of heaviest fighting. The Northern route is safer. Or should we say, the Northern routes.
"Much of the ballooning supply of drugs shipped across Afghanistan's northern border, up to one-fifth of the country's output, has traveled to and through Tajikistan. The opium and heroin funded rampant corruption in Tajikistan and turned the country, still hobbled by five years of civil war in the 1990s, into what at times seems like one big drug-trafficking organization."
12. The Kyrgyzstan route is very busy. As we know, Manas Transit Center, operated by the US Air Force, is also in Kyrgyzstan.
"Conspiracy theories are not our line, but we know that know that various cities in southern Kyrgyzstan are drug hubs, primarily, Osh, Batken, Dzhalal-Abad and Kyzyl-Kiya. They are all on the ring surrounding the Fergana Valley. They belong mainly to Uzbekistan. One of the routes in this direction begins in the Tajik city of Khorog, on the Afghan border. Then it goes up into the mountains along the Khorog-Osh highway that was built in the Soviet era. In essence, it is the only serious route for crossing Pamir and coming out into the Fergana Valley. Osh is a large city with an international airport. The Osh drug mafia is an influential group. It’s fair to assume that it has political levers, and is trying to strengthen them. In general, narcotics and political extremism, just like narcotics and terrorism, are separate topics. It is clear that the narcotics, or rather the billions of narco-dollars are going to finance and arm criminals of all different “ideological” persuasions. States in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) feel the effects of this most of all.
13. Russia has been asking NATO to do something about this avalanche of drugs pouring out of Afghanistan. NATO refuses to eradicate the crops.
There are three arguments that have been made by Richard Holbrooke, U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, and by NATO Spokesman James Appathurai. 1) The first argument says that to destroy the crops would deprive Afghan peasants of a source of subsistence, and that unhappy peasants would then go over to the Taliban. 2) Secondly, if NATO soldiers become involved in this activity they will increase the risk of their own lives. 3) Thirdly, this costs money.
Richard Holbrooke, one of Obama's czars
So sorry. We have no money.
The silk route of the Afghan poppy concludes with these statistics:
According to the U.N. Commission on Drugs and Crime (in “Drug Addiction, Crime and Rebels”, a 2009 paper), Afghanistan annually exports some 900 tons of opium and 375 tons of heroin. Over 12,000 tons are in storage. Enough to satisfy the demand of heroin addicts worldwide for the next 100 years. Every year 100,000 people die from overdoses of Afghan heroin, including 30,000 Russians. The world opiates market totals $65 billion, of which the Russian share is $13 billion (20 percent).
Revenue from heroin traffic by the Northern route
Annual turnover: $18 billion.
Distribution of main royalties:
Transnational criminal and terrorist organizations: $15 billion
Small wholesale traders and retail: $1 billion
Narcotics labs in northern Afghanistan: $1 billion
Taliban: $30 billion
Proceeds to peasants in southern Afghanistan: $100 million
One big happy family.