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Western hypocrisy on Afghanistan
"NINETY PERCENT of all heroin sold in Britain originates from Afghanistan. Stopping that trade is directly in our interests."
"The arms the Taliban are buying today are paid for with the lives of young British people buying their drugs on British streets. That is another part of their regime that we should seek to destroy." (Tony Blair, speaking at Labour Party conference October 2001 on the eve of the invasion of Afghanistan.)
Last year, Afghanistan exported 87% of the world's opium supply and accounted for 60% of the country's productive wealth, worth $2.8 billion. The only year with a bigger output was in 1999, before the Taliban regime banned its production.
So a war costing thousands of lives and billions of dollars to remove the Taliban and hence the scourge of opium, has actually increased its production!
The US has announced a new offensive against drug production in Afghanistan but this could prove unpopular amongst the country's rural population and difficult to achieve. The UN Afghanistan Opium Survey 2004 says drug production is "the main engine of economic growth and the strongest bond among previously quarrelsome peoples". Some 2.3 million people, 10% of the population, is involved in opium.
So, without economic alternatives and with the politically and militarily weak stooge presidency of Hamid Karzai, the US and British governments will struggle to eradicate the drug.
In recent weeks Tony Blair and George Bush have hailed the dubious presidential election in Afghanistan as proof of the onset of democracy and progress.
In reality, Afghanistan is a fractured country run by competing warlords, engaged in repression and criminality. A country so poor that only opium production can provide an income for many people. A state deemed by the United Nations as the 'second worst to live in'. That's the 'bright' future for Afghan people under capitalism.
In The Socialist 27 November 2004:
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