Cash Flows On Both Sides

by Ed Palazzolo

According to recent reports, the growth of opium poppy reached record highs in 2007 for production in Afghanistan.

- it said Afghanistan now produces 93 percent of the world’s opium poppy – comes hand in hand with the resurgence of Taliban militants despite U.S. anti-insurgent efforts.

The growth of drug production directly leads to the increase in cash flow for the Taliban. The article likens this organizational form to the traditional Mafia form.

The report describes an Afghan twist on the old organized-crime protection racket: Drug barons supply the Taliban with money and weapons, and the hard-line militants protect the growing regions and help get the drugs to market.

The article goes on to present the optimistic public commentary from NATO Secretary General Jaap De Hoop Scheffer.

“We are there to support President Karzai and the Afghan people,” Scheffer said during an Oval Office visit with President Bush. “But we’re also there because we’re fighting terrorism, and we cannot afford to lose. We will not lose. We are not losing; we are prevailing.”

The juxtaposition of increasing drug production –leading to increased cash and weapons for the Taliban– with the optimistic public face of NATO Secretary General and President Bush leaves the public to wonder what is really going on and are tax-payer dollars being spent wisely.