Britain’s top diplomat in Canada has dismissed a poll, commissioned by the international think-tank that is championing the legalization of Afghanistan’s contentious opium poppy crop, which shows that Canadians overwhelmingly support for the use of Afghan opium for medicinal purposes.
Cary was responding to the release of an Ipsos Reid survey of 1,000 Canadians, conducted on behalf of the Senlis Council, which found that nearly eight in 10 Canadians (79 per cent) want Prime Minister Stephen Harper to get behind an international pilot project that would help transform Afghanistan’s illicit opium cultivation into a legal source for codeine, morphine and other legitimate pain medications for the international market.
Oh so you could do it just that after six years you don't have the infrastructure.....right-o that's why Harper sent our troops into the Opium Fields. The effectiveness of the Provincial Reconstruction Teams can be measured in opium production.
Cary noted that while opium production has been licensed in such places as Thailand and Turkey, it took 15 years to achieve such a system. Afghanistan simply lacks the infrastructure and regulatory framework to cultivate opium legally and to keep it out of the hands of drug dealers, he said.
And for the British who created this problem in the 19th Century in order to expand their Empire to be telling us they oppose legalization, well that is a bit rich isn't it. They have a history of creating infrastructure and regulations for opium production.
It was not until the British Empire started organizing and commercializing opium production in the 19th century that the opium poppy became entrenched in the world economy. The opium produced in British India was the first drug to become integrated into the then emerging globalization.
Tea, which was then only grown in China, was bought by British merchants with silver extracted from South American mines.
This triangular trade went on at least until the British Empire, together with the East India Company it had set up, created a thriving opium market in China, first through illegal smuggling and then through forced imports.
The two so-called “opium wars” (1839-1842 and 1856-1860) waged by the British to impose their opium trade onto China resulted in “unfair treaties” that not only made Hong Kong a British colony but also provoked, in China, the biggest addiction ever to happen in world history.
Chickens, home, roost.
And after all this is a British problem, which they created back then and again today in Afghanistan.
Those into conspiracy theories might be forgiven for thinking this might also be a policy of the CIA to destabilize Iran by increasing the number of heroin addicts in that country.
Britain is stoned at home and sold out in Helmand
The vast increase in opium poppy farming in Afghanistan is indicative of an inability to grasp a basic law of economics
The British government for sure knows how to do one thing. It knows how to help farmers in need. Since it arrived in Afghanistan in 2001 and was put in charge of the staple poppy crop, ministers have spent hundreds of millions of pounds on promoting it. On Monday the United Nations announced the result. Poppy production in Afghanistan has soared since the invasion, this year alone by 34%. The harvest in the British-occupied protectorate of Helmand rose by 50% in 12 months. This is a dazzling triumph for agricultural intervention.
Ministers may deny this was their policy, but they cannot be that inept. They faced a heroin epidemic at home. Suddenly finding themselves charged with controlling almost all the world's opium production, they must have known what they were doing. By alienating farmers and forcing them into the arms of the Taliban, they would drive up illicit production and encourage oversupply. While that would increase heroin consumption in Britain in the short term, as it has done, oversupply would eventually cause prices to collapse. At that point, the British policy of "poppy substitution" with wheat and other crops would start to bite and supply would be stifled. What happened when that stifling drove prices back up again was someone else's concern.
I cannot think of any less daft explanation for a policy that otherwise defies every law of economics. Kim Howells, the Foreign Office minister responsible for flooding British streets with cheap heroin, may squabble with his American colleagues over whether poppy eradication is better than substitution, but one thing is certain. Since Nato arrived in Afghanistan, opium has become to the local economy what oil is to a Gulf state. It is roughly 60% of the domestic product and 90% of exports, with productivity per hectare rising by the year.
Despite US suspicions, Iran - which has one of the world's highest drug addiction rates - argues that it has legitimate interests in combating the influx of heroin and opiates from the poppy fields of Afghanistan. More than 3,000 Iranian police and security personnel have been killed in clashes with drug smugglers along the Afghan border since 1979.
Legalization would of course cure this problem by recognizing drug addiction as a medical problem, a curse of capitalism, rather than a crime.
The year 2009 will mark the centennial of the Shanghai Opium Conference, the first world-wide agreement on the reduction of opium use and production. China, then still an extremely poor feudal nation, was spending most of its foreign exchange on opium it imported through British traders. The British sold their cheap Indian Opium for pure silver to the Chinese, and had almost two centuries of opium fortune-making behind them. The fledgling United States of America tried to conquer a share of the profits in this lavish market, at a time when prohibitionist ideas about alcohol and opium control were expanding all over the globe. It was time for the American Disease to be born.
But don't expect support for that from Bush or Harper. They represent the traditional prohibitionist culture of social conservative Christians. The folks who oppose heroin legalization used to oppose the 'demon rum'.
In later analyses of the history of drug and alcohol controls other names for the American Disease have been coined. The most appropriate one, not tied to any nationality per se, is the 'Temperance Movement'. It was comprised of a collective of local movements prevalent in a group of nations. Later these nine nations would be identified as a special group, the nations where the temperance culture would endorse far reaching control policies in the attempt to regulate medical and recreational drugs. The global impact of these temperance cultures has varied from almost nothing to considerable.
Meanwhile it is telling that not only are Afhgani's the largest producers of opium they are also its victims.
Afghanistan is hooked on opium. The drugs trade has become the largest employer, its biggest export and the main source of income in a land devastated by decades of war. Opium is grown on 10 per cent of the farmland and employs 13 per cent of the population as labourers, guards and transport workers.Defending the rights of Afghani women and children, the mantra of the Harpocrites used to justify their warmongering. And their war efforts have resulted in increased addictions amongst women and children. That surely is a measure of success of this mission.
The ubiquity of the drug has now created the world's worst domestic drug problem, a crisis threatening to engulf any hope of economic revival. The first nationwide survey on drug use, by the Afghan Ministry of Counter-Narcotics and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, estimated that one million in this nation of 30 million were addicts, including 100,000 women and 60,000 children.
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