Author Topic: Cain, help me with the plot, here.  (Read 974 times)

Doktor Howl

  • SHIT FIXER
  • One-Armed Jizz Moppers
  • Deserved It
  • **
  • Posts: 385753
    • View Profile
Cain, help me with the plot, here.
« on: September 08, 2015, 01:04:44 am »
Okay, so when the Afghanistan war stared, the Taliban were burning poppy fields, and we didn't give a fuck about those fields.

But sooner or later, that opium money becomes necessary to fund the larger battle.  Within a few months, everyone eats the menu, and the war is itself ABOUT the opium.  Just like every other Asian war in the last 500 years.

Is this accurate?

Cain

  • Alea iacta est
  • Chekha
  • Deserved It
  • ****
  • Posts: 104977
    • View Profile
Re: Cain, help me with the plot, here.
« Reply #1 on: September 08, 2015, 01:47:28 pm »
Well, the Taliban position towards opium is actually open to some debate. 

The theory according to Peter Dale Scott and others is that while Afghanistan claimed to be eraditicating the poppy farms, it was doing this to access certain UN and US funds, while in effect taking over production from independent farmers and stockpiling the product.  One of the key backers of the Taliban, way back in the early days, is a large scale heroin smuggler currently languishing in an American jail (Haji Bashar Noorzai....who was also an informant to American intelligence services post-9/11), convicted of smuggling $50 million dollars worth of the stuff into the country.

A UN contractor and journalist, Michael Griffin, who wrote a book on Afghanistan a few months before the attacks, said that the Taliban position on opium was deliberately ambiguous, that the Taliban position was that "The consumption of opiates is forbidden, as is the manufacture of heroin, but the production and trading in opium is not forbidden."

And according to DEA documents from 1996, the Taliban managed to take Kabul because they promised not to crack down on poppy famers (also cited in Griffin's book, which sadly I do not have in front of me).  Under Taliban rule, production of poppy nearly doubled in terms of metric tons, and almost all that production was in Taliban held territory.

Other observers have noted that the supposed Taliban eradication program actually allowed them to drive up market prices and reap a significant profit (a tenfold increase in cost is not to be sneezed at, especially when the Taliban allegedly take 20% of everything, on top of 10% for local mullahs).  The UNNCB estimated that the Taliban had stockpiled enough opium to supply all European markets for the next 4 years, buying the vast majority of it before they put their "ban" into effect.  By the time of 9/11, heroin prices had hit a global high of $746 per kilo.

After 9/11 according to Woodward and Risen, the British demanded the American government hit opium production factories in Afghanistan, due to the vast quantity of British heroin coming from that country but it was eventually overriden by Donald Rumsfeld because of his concern over civilian casualties(!) and collateral damage.

When the Taliban slipped over the border and restructured, the first people they turned to was their former smuggler allies for funding.  The Haqqani Network and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar (he of former CIA and ISI backing), both major drug traffickers, formed part of the "Quetta Shura" alongside the Taliban military commander, Mullah Dadullah.  Controlling the narcotics trade allowed them to control the profits and use funds as a form of command and control over the otherwise quite disparate groups who make up the Neo-Taliban resistance to NATO.

This is further complicated (as always) by the role of the ISI.  Pakistan is the major transit route for heroin onto the global market, and the ISI wanted in on that trade.  A certain Brigadier Imtiaz, reporting directly to at the time ISI director Hamid Gul, set up a cell in the late 80s tasked with helping to smuggle heroin to fund covert actions.  Gul, as you may recall, was the point man for Pakistan's strategy in Afghanistan in the 80s.  When Benazir Bhutto found out what they were up to, both of them were canned. However, the Brigadier appeared to have friends in high places, specifically Nawaz Sharif (who was allegedly funded by money from the good brigadier).  When he was PM, he reinstated Imtiaz, only for Bhutto to sack him again during her second term, and for Musharraf to instigate proceedings against him for his close links to Sharif.

But that's only a small part of the overall drug picture.  Pakistan is awash in drugs money, it infects almost every aspect of the informal economy over there, and especially political circles.  It intersects strongly with former allies of General Zia, as well as landowners, tribal leaders (especially on the Afghan/Iran borders) and businessmen...like Nawaz Sharif.  The actual protection of the source of this wealth...well, there are all these heavily armed mujahideen around, after all.

And on the flipside...well, the Northern Alliance was always into the drug trade, if to a far lesser extent than the Taliban (and it supplemented its income with the gems and precious metals trade, as to try and reduce the anger of its backers).  To flip warlords into backing the provisional government, it seems highly likely that the US military avoided attacking drug lab facilities.  I don't need to mention Hamid Karzai's brother...CIA asset and drug dealer (and how often do we see those two words together?).  The former vice-president, Ahmad Zia Massoud, was also involved in the trade.  Sher Mohammad Akhundzada, the former governor of Helmand Province, has also been seen as linked to the drug trade.

The way I see it, raising funds are a vital part of winning a war.  Part of the reason Britain triumped over France in its long running conflict (1666-1815 edition) was the ability of the British government to more effectively raise funds for its military campaigns.  Drugs are a shot in the arm for any conflict, giving instant overseas contacts, arms, lines of credit and backers.  But then you have to protect your investment.  You have to seize drug products to prevent the enemy from doing the same.  You need to protect your dealers and smugglers, control their turf effectively  And before you know it, you're a narco-insurgent.  You need the drugs to fight the war to get the drugs to fight for the drugs to fight the war, while everything spirals out of control.

Doktor Howl

  • SHIT FIXER
  • One-Armed Jizz Moppers
  • Deserved It
  • **
  • Posts: 385753
    • View Profile
Re: Cain, help me with the plot, here.
« Reply #2 on: September 08, 2015, 06:02:10 pm »
Thank you.

Cain

  • Alea iacta est
  • Chekha
  • Deserved It
  • ****
  • Posts: 104977
    • View Profile
Re: Cain, help me with the plot, here.
« Reply #3 on: September 08, 2015, 06:04:16 pm »
No problem

Doktor Howl

  • SHIT FIXER
  • One-Armed Jizz Moppers
  • Deserved It
  • **
  • Posts: 385753
    • View Profile
Re: Cain, help me with the plot, here.
« Reply #4 on: September 08, 2015, 06:13:28 pm »
No problem

I knew everyone was up to their hips in it, but not how everyone got there.

Cain

  • Alea iacta est
  • Chekha
  • Deserved It
  • ****
  • Posts: 104977
    • View Profile
Re: Cain, help me with the plot, here.
« Reply #5 on: September 08, 2015, 06:15:57 pm »
Pretty much since the Soviet occupation, it's been a go-to source of funding for anyone.  Some of the militants turned to it in order to increase their independence from Pakistani and Saudi money during the mujahideen glory days...and the ones who were favoured by them followed suit, in order to increase their power base and influence.  Then the Taliban came along...