WikiLeaks’ just-released Afghan War Diary paints a picture of failed drug interdiction in the most drug-addled region on the globe. United States soldiers stop a negligible fraction of the tonnage of Afghan opium and cannabis grown in the region. Meanwhile profits from Afghanistan’s drug trade fuels the Taliban and the associated war, which has claimed thousands of civilian lives. Amid the 91,000 plus documents of the Afhan War Diary are just six reports classified as drug crimes.Most notably, soldiers met with small arms fire from irate poppy farmers irritated about the U.S. crackdown on the country’s leading cash crops. Other times, the U.S. intercepted as much as 60 kilograms of heroin in one action. But the sum of drug crime reports indicate most of Afghanistan’s drug trade goes largely unchecked.
Released July 25, 2010 the WikiLeaks Afghan War Diary , compiles over 91,000 reports covering the war in Afghanistan from 2004 to 2010. The reports, while written by soldiers and intelligence officers, and mainly describing lethal military actions involving the United States military, also include intelligence information, reports of meetings with political figures, and related details. The reports cover most units from the US Army with the exception of most US Special Forces’ activities. The reports do not generally cover top secret operations or European and other ISAF Forces operations.
“Farmers opened fire on counternarcotics police involved in opium poppy eradication … wounding three policemen, a district governor said. Police returned fire, slightly wounding one of a crowd of about 200 farmers involved in the protest in one of the most important opium-growing districts in Nangarhar province, a provincial police spokesman added.”
Another report details the interdiction of 60 kilos of heroin going to Iran along the Farah Border in 2008. Six traffickers were apprehended.
Such paltry reports indicate relatively nothings is being done to stop the war’s main source of funding. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime “Drugs and bribes are the two largest income generators in Afghanistan: together they correspond to about half the country’s (licit) GDP,” said UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa in January 2010.
Afghanistan, the world’s biggest producer of opium, is also a major producer of cannabis, according to the UNODC. According to the Afghanistan Cannabis Survey , the first ever UNODC report on cannabis in Afghanistan, released March 2010, up to 60,000 acres of cannabis plant are grown in Afghanistan every year, yielding about 70 kilos of hash per acre, or a nationwide total of 1,500 to 3,500 tons a year. The net income of an acre of cannabis plant is $1,352. Afghans make so much money growing dope, America may have to pay them to grow something else.
As a consequence of their major domestic product and the near-constant state of trauma in the country, Afghanistan is also facing a major and growing problem with drug abuse. Around 1 million Afghans between the ages of 15 to 64 are addicted to drugs. That’s eight percent of the population, or twice the global average. Opium users increased 53 per cent and heroin users leaped 140 per cent since 2005.
“Three decades of war-related trauma, unlimited availability of cheap narcotics and limited access to treatment have created a major, and growing, addiction problem in Afghanistan,” said UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa.
Western Europe and Russia are the two largest export markets for Aghan opium. The United States gets its opium from Latin America.