Sunday, February 26, 2012


It was sad, but not surprising, to read an article in the "Voice," an area weekly newspaper, two days after I’d written last week about the surge of opium & heroin production in Afghanistan.  “Epidemic on the rise? --Heroin use a gateway to crime, poor health, even death.”  As it is in Afghanistan, so it is in Southeast Michigan.   The story quotes Macomb Co. District Court Judge Linda Davis—about 300 people under age 25 died in her county in 2011, due to heroin overdose.  And Sheriff Tim Donnellon of St. Clair County points to 11 similar deaths in our county in 2011.  Heroin-related death totals in our backyard are on the rise according to these sources, as heroin production/addiction in war-ravaged Afghanistan continues its upswing.  Blowback from thousands of miles away.
Heroin and opium addicts in the former Soviet Cultural Center in Kabul--Lynsey Addario for The New York Times

 Afghanistan soldier in poppies----Sanjaray in Zhari district early April 26, 2008---REUTERS-Goran Tomasevic

To sum up the situation here the story continues, “St. Clair County Sheriff’s Deputy Steve Campau [Public Information Officer] said even though a lot of users have to go out of their community to obtain the substance it is becoming even cheaper—averaging about $10 for a small package—and more accessible in part because of the increased poppy production in Afghanistan being sent to the west.”

 AFGHAN FORCES DESTROYING OPIUM POPPY FIELDS--Nangarhar---April 2007 Photograph Rahmat Gul
First Lt Terence Sawick patrolling in Helmand Province-- Afghanistan---photo-Joël van Houdt for NYT

We spend a million dollars a soldier per year to deploy to Afghanistan.  This is what we get here in return?  Increased heroin addiction.  Young people die, stateside and halfway around the world.  More death due to drugs here at home.  More morbidity in Afghanistan, with drone bomb, and opium addiction, and government corruption, damage to their people, and the ongoing IED roadside bomb and PTSD damage to our troops as they hopelessly try to stamp out opium and Taliban in that foreign land.  When will we ever learn—“nor does a bad tree bear good fruit.” Lk 6:43    Guns, drugs and dirty money are the inevitable the taproots of war’s bad tree.   The fruits are violence, death and destruction.

The Cursing of the Fig Tree---Mark 11:14 

Addendum information to last weeks look at Afghan opium production.

Quotes from articles Past

From Nov. 19, 2004 NYT—“Afghan Poppy Growing Reaches Record Level, U.N. Says”

Poppy cultivation in Afghanistan, the source of most of the opium and heroin on Europe's streets, was up sharply this year, reaching the highest levels [4,200 metric tons] in the country's history and in the world, the United Nations announced on Thursday.
…. most of the profits go to a very few traffickers, warlords and militia leaders, rather than the impoverished farmers, who are often heavily in debt to the drug lords, the United Nations report said.
There are signs, too, of a move toward a greater vertical integration of the business and the growing involvement of international organized crime, according to a recent report by Barnett Rubin of the Center on International Cooperation at New York University.
His[ Karzai’s]administration has included known drug lords, and many of his provincial governors, police and army chiefs are widely rumored to profit from the trade, diplomats and Afghan officials acknowledge. Commanders of the powerful Northern Alliance, which with American help overthrew the Taliban in 2001, continue to profit from the trade in northeastern Badakhshan Province.
Diplomats say there are even reports linking Mr. Karzai's brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, an influential figure in the southern city of Kandahar, to the trade.
The government is finally trying to get the word out that poppy cultivation is illegal and that farmers will be penalized. The council of senior clerics recently issued a religious edict forbidding poppy growing.
But international assistance has been inadequate and ill focused, Mr. Rubin says. "U.S. cooperation with warlords and militia leaders tied to trafficking has sent the wrong signal about the U.S. commitment to combating narcotics," he said.

And Present

A January [2012] report by the U.N. Office of Drugs and Crime said revenue from opium production in Afghanistan soared by 133 percent last year to about $1.4 billion, or about one-tenth of the country’s GDP, after the crop recovered from a 2010 blight and returned to previous levels.
“Illicit traffic in opiates, including heroin, is a growing problem,” says the document, adding that revenues it generates fuel “corruption, organized crime and in some cases ... terrorist activities and insurgency.”

 This was the plan---From 2-14-10 Huffington Post---Mushtarak  means “together” in Farsi and Pashtu languages
Only as recently as 2010 did coalition forces, bolstered by Obama’s troop surge, try to cauterize what Gen. Stanley McChrystal called the “bleeding ulcer” of Marja — a town just outside the provincial capital where the Taliban presided unmolested over a lucrative opium industry.
Successful as it is, the taking of Marja was accomplished with an immense commitment of men and resources that could not realistically be brought to bear elsewhere in the province. An analogy often invoked across Afghanistan is that of the water-filled bag: squeeze the bottom, the top distends.
Year after year, month after month, Helmand has ranked as the deadliest, most violent province in Afghanistan. Nowhere else comes close.

The words of the preacher hero of Black History month give hope and direction----

The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral,
begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy.
Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it.
Through violence you may murder the liar,
but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth.
Through violence you may murder the hater,
but you do not murder hate.
In fact, violence merely increases hate.
So it goes.
Returning violence for violence multiplies violence,
adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness:
only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


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