Growing opium, killing children in Afghanistan

Posted on | maart 29, 2011 | No Comments

From September 2001 when George Bush declared war on Afghanistan in retaliation for the 9/11 attacks in the US until the current Obama administration that has escalated the war in that Asian nation, the victims of war have not been al-Qaeda and Taliban male fighters, but innocent civilians, especially children. A simple web search under the title ‘killing children in Afghanistan’ yields over 17 million results, 5 million fewer than the title ‘killing children under Nazi Germany’.

Given that the US and EU media as well as politicians have been toying with the idea of putting Gaddafi on trial for his reckless arrogance that led to the bloody Libyan civil war where a few hundred to a few thousand people have fallen victims, who should go on trial for the war crimes in Afghanistan – to say nothing about Iraq, where the victims have been mostly women and children by the thousands for the last ten years? Who decides the legitimacy of the case involving war crimes? The US and its allies decide legitimacy because they enjoy military hegemony, therefore, Gaddafi as an undesirable leader is a legitimate target while US and NATO leaders are above international law?

On 1 March 2011, the US military killed another nine children in Kunar province located in the northeast region where Defense Secretary claims NATO is making progress. The killing of these children, all under 14 years collecting firewood at the time they were gunned down, comes just a two weeks after another massacre of 65 civilians; these in a long series of massacres since 2001, followed by the obligatory apology by the US, followed by the pretext of collateral damage, followed by hollow political rhetoric that it is all in defense of the people from the enemy the Taliban, followed by promises of ‘internal investigation’ that invariably faults one or more individuals rather than the policy of militarism and those responsible for it. At Nuremberg, the US, France, and UK would not settle apportioning legal, moral, and political blame only to NAZI soldiers carrying out the acts of atrocity, insisting that it was an entire structure of command leading all the way to Hitler.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai (in reality the mayor of Kabul) was enraged that the killing of innocent civilians is now perceived as a US-NATO campaign of terror by the majority of the people who want an end to foreign military occupation. Anxious for a timetable for US-NATO withdrawal that is to start in July 2011 and continue until 2014, Karzai rejected an apology from General David Petraeus. The UN asked the US and NATO to reconsider use of air strikes, given that the targets are so often innocent civilians. UN had no choice but to ask US-NATO forces to stop killing children! After all, it is not just a war crime, it is also immoral!

Besides the massacre of children and innocent adult civilians, war crimes extend to the thorough and total destruction of Afghanistan after a decade of war and military occupation. In 2010, there were more than 100,000 Afghan refugees, over 300,000 displaced, another 200,000 affected by floods, land slides, and earth quakes, and an unknown number that have fled for countries throughout Asia, Africa, and Europe.

Those remaining live under the threat of terror from perpetual war, which as I have stated on many occasions, the US and NATO have lost and cannot achieve anything except to use the country as a military base to contain Iran, keep Pakistan under watch, and counter-balance China and Russia. Toward what end other than keeping a few defense related industries profitable for now, but at what cost to the US politically and economically long-term?

Under US military occupation, Afghanistan’s opium trade has thrived as never before – 92% of the world’s opium supply comes from this country yielding $4 billion dollars, of which a tiny amount goes to the farmers. Organized crime, business syndicates, and banks are the main beneficiaries of the opium trade. The UN has urged the US and NATO to stop the opium trade, and it seems some progress has been made.

Over 50% of Afghanistan’s GDP comes from opium. It is odd that the more the US is fighting the war against drugs in Afghanistan, the more drugs are produced. According to some reports, in the last two years there has been a small drop in people involved in poppy cultivation, which occupied just under ten percent of the population in 2008, and just under 7% in 2009. Overall, however, opium remains at the heart of Afghanstan’s economy.

Given the sharp rise in opium production under US military occupation, Afghanistan now has 8% of its population addicted to the narcotic, or twice the average in the world. It should be noted that opium production and use was almost totally eliminated under the Taliban, an otherwise tyrannical and dogmatic regime that at least wiped out opium production. After weapons sales, narcotics are the second most lucrative business in this war-torn nation that the US has reduced into one segment of rebel strongholds, and the other of the NATO-backed Karzai regime that will collapse as soon as the foreign troops leave.

The US and the West wants GADDAFI held accountable for the killings in Libya’s social uprising turned into civil war during the first months of 2011. Who in the West will be held accountable for killing children, and innocent civilians for a decade in Afghanistan (and Iraq)? Who will be held accountable for reducing Afghanistan into a war camp and an opium growing economy in the last decade? As the aggressor and occupier, does US-NATO have any moral authority to preach freedom and democracy to any country on this planet when it has a record of war crimes?

AUTHOR: Jon Kofas
E-MAIL: jonkofas [at]


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