Saturday, August 26, 2006

Exactly what values are we promoting in Afghanistan?

It's been almost five years since the initial attack on Afghanistan. In that time almost 15,000 Canadian troops have been involved in that campaign. And it's nowhere near over.

Instead of a full consolidation of Afghanistan after the defeat of the Taliban the Bush administration, obsessed with Iraq, stiffed Afghanistan and failed to provide a comprehensive reconstruction plan. And this is the result: (All emphasis mine)

Opium cultivation has hit a new high in Afghanistan, up more than 40 per cent from 2005, even though hundreds of millions have been spent to counter the narcotics trade, Western officials say.

The increase could have serious repercussions, with drug lords joining the Taliban-led fight against Afghan and international forces.
It gets worse.

Last year, the UN reported Afghanistan produced an estimated 4,100 tonnes of opium, enough to make 410 tonnes of heroin, nearly 90 per cent of world supply.

This year's preliminary findings indicate failed attempts to eradicate poppy cultivation and continuing corruption among provincial officials and police, problems acknowledged by President Hamid Karzai.

In a recent interview, Karzai told Fortune magazine "lots of people" in his administration profit from narcotics trade, adding he underestimated the difficulty of ending opium production.

The UN agency estimates opium accounted for 52 per cent of Afghanistan's gross domestic product in 2005.
In short, Afghanistan is the ultimate global narco-state and rather than the presence of a NATO force on the ground causing the cultivation of opium to shrink, it is expanding... rapidly.

And, where is the opium going to end up?

Afghanistan's bumper poppy crop will turn up on the streets of British cities in six to nine months in the form of cheap but high quality heroin, experts warn.
And some of it will end up in North America.

Other problems in Afghanistan abound. While Hamid Karzai is favoured by western leaders, he has done little to solve many of the government's problems.

Compounding the problem, corruption amongst government authorities presents a serious challenge for poppy eradication efforts in the landlocked nation of 31 million, where more than half of the population lives below the poverty line and unemployment remains rampant.
That has brought about other problems in Afghanistan. Despite the day of the purple fingers, Afghanis have lost faith in Karzai's ability to govern and that is giving the Taliban a renewed life.

After months of widespread frustration in Afghanistan over corruption, the economy and a lack of justice and security, doubts about President Hamid Karzai have led to a crisis of confidence in the country.

Interviews with ordinary Afghans, foreign diplomats and Afghan officials make clear that the expanding Taliban insurgency in the south represents the most serious challenge yet to Karzai's presidency.

The insurgency has precipitated an eruption of doubts about Karzai, widely viewed as having failed to attend to a range of problems that have left Afghans asking what the government is doing.

Corruption is so widespread, the government apparently so lethargic, and the divide between rich and poor so great, that Karzai is losing public support, warn officials like Ahmad Fahim Hakim, vice chairman of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission.
Canada has lost 27 troops and one diplomat in Afghanistan. George Bush's good buddy, Steve Harper tells us it is to promote "Canadian values".

Harper needs to explain how perpetuating and promoting a corrupt, inept government which sits by and allows the Taliban to expand and profit from opium poppy production is anything close to a Canadian value.

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