Poppy War without end 


I have breaking news from the front lines of the war.

No, not the new war in Iraq, which really is Iraq War III for us — our nation's third trip there in just 25 years. (Maybe the third try will be the charm, though I really don't think there's anything charming about it.)

Nor do I mean our wars in Syria, Pakistan, Yemen, or — oh, hell, who can keep up? Rather I mean our oldest ongoing war and the longest in American history, now going on 13 years: Afghanistan.

This life-destroying, money-sucking, soul-sapping wreck of a military escapade has not gone at all well for Team USA, having failed to crush the Taliban, plant the flower of democracy, or even slow the elite's culture of corruption.

And now I bring hard news about the most modest of American goals in Afghanistan, namely defeating the poppy flowers. Yes, even fields of flowers have gotten the best of us in that woeful land.

After Bush-Cheney invaded, one major priority was to stop the planting of poppies, the flower that produces opium and heroin. Afghanistan was No. 1 in world opium production — the sale of which financed the repressive Taliban forces we had come to defeat.

For a decade, our troops eradicated poppy fields, lectured farmers, paid officials and farmers to switch to alternative crops, and waged all-out war on the pretty flower that turns so ugly.

Having spent 10 years and $7.6 billion on the Afghan Poppy War, where are we? A new report by a U.S. Inspector General reveals that more land than ever was dedicated to growing the flowers last year, producing an all-time record harvest that generated some $3 billion in profits for the Taliban — a billion more than the year before.

Not only does Afghanistan remain No. 1 in the opium trade, but it provided 80 percent of the world opium supply last year.

Like they say, war is hell.

Jim Hightower is the best-selling author of Swim Against the Current: Even a Dead Fish Can Go With the Flow, on sale now from Wiley Publishing. For more information, visit jimhightower.com.


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