Afghanistan, Opium, and Other Signs of Failure in the War on Terror

Afghanistan has been the number one producer of opium in the world every year since the United States invaded in 2001. Despite a dip in production in 2005 Afghanistan once again set a record for opium production in 2006, as it did in 2004. Opium is used to produce heroin in addition to its own use as a narcotic around the world.

The Bush administration has made it a priority to eradicate opium production in in the country. As in Iraq, the Bush administration had a plan for a quick military takeover in Afghanistan but no logical plan for the aftermath of such an invasion.

The rising tide of the Taliban led insurgency here is one indicator of that. The soaring opium production here was linked directly to the increase of size and activity of the Taliban led opposition in the past year. They are using opium as a means to fund their fight and promising to protect the farmers who grow the plant. It is a winning deal for Afghan farmers, who can expect to earn far more growing this illegal produce than they would otherwise.

President Bush made many bold statement defending the invasion of Afghanistan it terms of liberating that nation’s women from the bonds of extremism. But an August 2006 report by the United Nations reveals that abuse of women remains widespread and in fact generally goes unpunished.

The overall state of Afghanistan remains unstable. The government cannot control areas of the country that are teetering on return to Taliban rule. Rural Afghani’s grow opium simply because it is the available alternative to hunger and poverty. The rule of law and reason over extremism is very much in question at this point.

In abandoning Afghanistan and invading Iraq under suspicious auspices the Bush administration followed the same policy that left Afghans in the hands of Islamic extremists to begin with. The U.S. has once again liberated the nation only to lose focus in the aftermath. Instead of focusing on rebuilding efforts we have wasted valuable resources invading, destroying, rebuilding, and becoming an unwanted fixture in Iraq.

Imagine all the schools, food, homes, job training, medicine and monetary aid we might have given to Afghanistan. The United States made a vow not to abandon efforts to rebuild a nation long shattered by war and fought over by various invading countries and ideologies. But it seems that that was not the plan after all, if there was ever a plan to begin with.

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