In January 18, 2010, Viktor Ivanov, Chairman of the State Anti-Drug Committee and Director of Russia’s Federal Drug Control Service (FSKN), along with European Parliament member Pino Arlacchi, held a press conference at the press center of the All-Russian Television and Radio Broadcasting Company. They talked about the fight against drug production. Where? Basically, in Afghanistan.
It seems that Europe, which is spiraling out of Anglo-Saxon control, does not just want to stop sending its soldiers to Afghanistan. Now, Europeans also want Afghanistan to stop “sending” them narcotics.
“In his speech, Viktor Ivanov said that his meeting with the leading world expert on organized crime and drug trafficking is a routine step in establishing a broad international anti-drug coalition.
“Pino Arlacchi is currently crafting a new Afghanistan strategy for the European Union on behalf of the European Parliament. After it is approved by the European Parliament, the Strategy will determine the European Union’s official policy toward Afghanistan.
“It seems, said Ivanov, that the experience gained in the late 1990s, when drug production in Afghanistan had been almost completely eliminated, is little used today: eight years after the beginning of Operation Enduring Freedom Afghanistan produces 92% of the world’s opium. Meanwhile, humanity does not understand or realize what has happened in Afghanistan over the last eight years. Heroin production during that time has increased 40-fold—double the entire world production 10 years ago. Viktor Ivanov stressed that when it comes to Afghan drug production we are dealing with a planetary phenomenon, a global problem.
“The director of the Federal Drug Control Service expressed disappointment that NATO has not solved the problems of drug eradication and, it seems, does not plan to eradicate them. NATO’s recommendations to transfer the authority to eradicate drug crops to the provincial level simply look cynical.
“…In repeated statements over the past year, special US envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke, in acknowledging the failure of the West’s opium poppy eradication policy, announced the abandonment of crop eradication and explained it by saying that eradication of opium poppy is not only wasteful and inefficient, but it is also counterproductive as it puts Afghan farmers out of work and drives them into the arms of the Taliban.”
Here, you have to admire the idyll of “peaceful coexistence” between narcotics and the soldiers of the US Army. Miracles do not happen. If a superpower wants to do something, it will do it. But what if it does not want to do something? Then it will do nothing. Or it will do the direct opposite.
Viktor Ivanov pointed out that in Afghanistan the highest concentration of NATO forces in the world outside the Euro-Atlantic region peacefully coexists with the vast opium poppy plantations. It not only calls into question NATO counterterrorist mission but also lets us talk about the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of the Coalition’s more than eight-year presence in Afghanistan. In speaking about the effectiveness of crop eradication, Ivanov emphasized that a comparison should be drawn with the way the problem has been dealt with in Latin America.
“Aerial spraying of special defoliants by the United States in Colombia has had a tremendous impact—in 2008 229,138 hectares of drug crops were eradicated—75% of all coca plantings in the country. By way of comparison, during a similar period in Afghanistan a little more than 3% of the opium plantings were destroyed, primarily using a mechanical method.”
European Parliament member Pino Arlacchi was more restrained in his assessments. Which is understandable. He stressed that “Europe and the United States underestimate the level of the Afghan drug threat.”
“Recent years have demonstrated the ineffectiveness of NATO’s methods; urgent reallocation of the funds that have been allocated is necessary. And the money must be directed not only to combat drug traffickers, but also to develop agriculture and create new jobs in Afghanistan. In legal businesses. ‘When we speak of the eradication of narcotics we also need to remember about other approaches—fighting corruption and creating jobs. The European Union alone spends one billion euros annually on Afghanistan, and it would be sufficient if only one third of these funds went to develop agriculture in the country.’”
Arlacchi also said, “Actually, the war being waged by the United States in Afghanistan can benefit only the United States itself, because the heroin is not going to the United States; on the other hand, the Americans have been able to feed their military industrial complex while justifying the war to their people as a fight against international terrorism.”
Nikolay Starikov is a Russian Internet historian and blogger.