A few days ago, I wrote critically about continuing U.S. support for Afghanistan that was being endorsed by both presidential candidates. I was perhaps more tougher on Barack Obama who I reasoned was advocating getting out of one war and involving ourselves even more deeply in another, the drug captal of the world.
Now, I believe everyone's attention ought to be an article in the Sunday New York Times Magazine's article, "Is Afghanistan a Narco-State?" The author is Thomas Schweich, a former high-ranking official of the Bush administration's anti-narcotics campaign and now a visiting Professor of Law at Washington University in St. Louis. He explains that he met Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai, for the first time on March 1, 2006 at the dedication of the new U.S. Embassy in Kabul.
"I took to heart Karzai's strong statements against the Afghan drug trade," he wrote. "That was my first mistake." Before getting deep into the expose of what has all the appearances of another muddled approach to the Bush Administration's policy, Schweich says:
"Over the next two years, I would discover how deeply the Afghan government was involved in protecting the opium trade -- by shielding it from American-designed policies. While it is true that Karzai's Taliban enemies finance themselves from the drug trade, so do many of his supporters....The trouble is that the fighting is unlikely to end as long as the Taliban can finance themselves through drugs -- and as long as the Kabul government is dependent on opium to sustain its own hold on power."
According to Schweich, intelligence showed 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 was directed by Karzai "for political reasons not to prosecute any any of these people."
Attempting to eliminate the opium poppy fields, be it in Afghanistan, Colombia or even in Laos during the Vietnam War, was the most difficult and frustrating challenge facing American officials.
I remember accompanying CIA agents into the Laotian highlands in the 1960s when they tried to persuade Meo tribesmen to destroy their highly lucrative opium fields and turn to cultivating agricultural crops. It only prompted tribal leaders to scratch their heads and respond by asking, "what in hell are we going to do with sweet potatoes?"
See the Times' article that was based on unclassified sources and documents released to Schweich by the State Department. Ask yourselves after reading his chilling description, why should one more American's life be sacrificed to defend the phony premise that our major concern in Afghanistan is waging the war on terrorism?